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Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

(OP)
I am going to be manufacturing a new product that will need to be able to communicate via the cell tower network as a secondary function.  I am trying to determine what the cost would be to install the components necessary to send data only.  I have talked to some people who suggested that the most simple design would cost $60 per unit simply for the ability to do this.  Am I missing something?  I imgined that the hardware for this would be much cheaper as I can buy a cheap cell-phone for $20.  Any thoughts or ideas?

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

Your cost is going to be heavily dependent on the quantity, both for the hardware and how the NRE gets amortized.

Peter

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

Sure, you can buy one for $20 that has NO data linking capability.  How is that relevant?  

Are you going to buy millions of the phone that does what YOU want?

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

Companies such as Sierra Wireless or Novatel (for example) offer mobile data cards that are intended to be embedded. If you're looking for chips, then the name Qualcomm seems to pop up everywhere. The huge advantage of a card is that it would already be approved by all of the many and varied agencies.


On the subject of $60 vice $20, how come I can buy a chair (made in China) for $40, but if I want to send the chair back to China it would cost me at least $200 in shipping fees?  winky smile

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

1) Data-only device modules are made by companies like Telit, Siemens, Wavecom, etc. To use one of these, you have to do hardware design as these modules are intended to be a "component" of a larger design. These cost between $60 and $100 depending on feature and volumes.

2) More complete units are made. These usually have a serial interface, and an antenna connector, and come provided with an antenna. Give it AT commands, and it sends data. Costs are between $200 and $500. Device in this group are made by Multi-Tech, Airdesk, etc, etc.

Cell phone costs are pushed-down by the cellular companies. Their business is based on selling the cellular services and options - even if they sell the hardware at a loss. Whereas, the data-only business of 1) and 2) above must make their profit on the hardware.

Another big issue on the hardware is the approvals on a cellular device. There is currently some lawsuits and congressional pressure on the cellular carriers and phone manufacturers. To 'control' the market, you have to meet their standards to have a phone on their network. There is some question as to whether they use this control as a method of restricting the market. Even a biggie like Apple with their IPhone had to run the gauntlet to get carrier approvals which delayed the introduction of the IPhone by several months. Cellular devices can be approved for an individual carrier by meeting their testing. GSM Cellular devices must meet PTCRB standards. CDMA device must pay Qualcomm several dollars royalty per phone to use IP.

Even if you use a pre-tested/certified module of 1), you must still repeat the certification testing for your application, costing from $20,000 to $45,000, or half this to get approval for a single carrier. Devices of 2) come with the certification, but if you so much as even use a different antenna, you are required to re-certify! Now, if you want to buy the cellular chips, and roll-your-own, expect costs of $200,000 to $500,000 for development and certification.

I've only talked about the hardware. Similar issues arise to arrange for a carrier to recognize your device, carry your data, and collect their money.

Welcome to the Cellular Data World!

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

It costs Microsoft a lot more than the $400 selling price to manufacture their basic XBox 360.  Cell companies do the same thing, sell the hardware at a loss and make up for it 5 million times over with the service fees.

Just because you can buy at a low price doesn't mean you're seeing the whole picture.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

There really are some very cheap unsubsidized cell phones out there. They're not $20, but start at just over $30.

This summer my family and a friend visited the Philippines. Rather than incur huge roaming charges, we simply purchased local cell phones (Nokia 1110i, PP1700 = ~$40). The thing is, you could buy the phone cash-and-carry. You could then choose any pay-as-you-go carrier you wanted. There was no connection or tied-selling back to any particular carrier. There was no subsidy on the hardware. The low end phones really did retail for about PP1300 (= ~$30) and up.

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

(OP)
VE1BLL, thank you for your support - I suppose my question is that isthis company can produce a phone for that price point, shouldn't it be possible to produce an even simpler (no key pad, display etc) device for less?  Anyone know how this is  possible?  I've already heard from those who say it isn't...

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

Of course, it can be done; the point is do you have sufficient volume to get the supplier to do it?

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Best way to build a device capable of using cell network

(OP)
If I can get to a low enough price point I will be able to purchase a minimum of 100K.  Of course the price point will be a key part of establishing value.  

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