Why IoT Projects Require Certified Hardware

19.07.2023 by Ümit Günes

Automatic short-range sensor that scans motor housings on an assembly line


There can be serious consequences if enterprises fail to run their IoT solutions on certified hardware. Why certification matters and the benefits it brings.

By 2032 households and commercial enterprises throughout Germany will have to use smart meters. In May the Bundesrat finally approved legislation requiring conventional electricity meters to be replaced by smart digital devices in the years to come.

In conurbations several hundred thousand devices connected via the Internet of Things (IoT) will then quickly mount up. Smart meters, for example, relay their meter readings via the NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) mobile network standard, which ensures reliable reception especially in basements and cellars. Devices must also be reliable, of course, as faulty firmware might in theory lead to all smart meters in the system transmitting data simultaneously and thereby overloading the cellular network.

If Signal Storms Overload the Network

Mobile networks are regularly subjected to so-called signal storms that are triggered by malware or badly programmed applications. They can overload the capacity of mobile radio cells, backends, core networks or cloud servers – or exhaust the battery performance of mobile devices. And it is not just a matter of smartphones. With the growing number of IoT devices in Industry 4.0, the Smart City and the Smart Home the number of potential vulnerability points is on the increase too. In addition, for a smartphone the operating system specifies which of the device’s interfaces an app can use. For IoT devices, however, there is no such widespread operating system as Android or iOS in sight as yet to protect the device from the application to the same extent.

According to the network equipment supplier Ericsson 500 wrongly configured devices are all that is needed to trigger a signal storm that knocks out a local network, affecting other network users. And if a company uses uncertified hardware the network operator is more or less blind. It has no access to the devices, is unable to assess the hard- or software errors and thereby unable to rectify them. Malfunctioning field components are not easy to identify and the customer is left to fend for himself.

That is Why Certification of IoT Hardware Matters

Businesses must be able to rely on the digital hardware they have chosen for their IoT project to be network-compliant, and network operators can ensure that they can. At Deutsche Telekom, for example, customers can choose from a constantly growing catalog of certified hardware. Telekom experts probe the entire value chain of sensors and actuators or gateways and routers, not to mention components such as chipsets and modules. Every step in the life cycle of IoT hardware – from product development via launch and operation to maintenance and service – is checked.

Technicians check whether an IoT device and its technology support all features of Telekom’s mobile network. It must, for example, be compatible with the energy-saving functions or special data transmission features. Above all, there is a strict “no harm to network” policy. Connected hardware must pose no threat to the network, and that is important because IoT devices, unlike laptops and smartphones, must function independently of the user. They switch themselves on independently and transmit data without a user having any direct control over them, so the device must function safely and securely ex works.

Which Certified IoT Hardware Components Does Telekom Offer?

  • Gateways: link a large number of connected devices with Telekom cloud platforms and ensure correct implementation of different supported protocols.
  • Routers: collect data from connected sensors or devices and relay it safely to Telekom cloud platforms.
  • Trackers: locate devices, vehicle and goods around the world by means of positioning technologies such as GPS, GLONASS (GNSS) or Cell ID.
  • Developer Kits: developer boards integrated into the Telekom IoT cloud for rapid prototyping purposes.
  • Cellular Modules: with the certified modules of our market-leading global industry partners vehicles or machinery are always on the Internet of Things – via 5G, LTE, NB-IoT or LTE-M.
  • Chipsets: enable shorter times to market, greater flexibility in product development and lower product validation costs.

Telekom’s IoT Hardware & Services Department also tests routers and gateways or trackers and other modules against the different Telekom IoT platforms such as the Cloud of Things. All devices must be able to communicate securely and automatically via the interfaces. IoT standards and protocols such as Lightweight M2M (LwM2M) are taken into account, with experts checking performance parameters such as electricity consumption, data throughput or latency. Field use components such as trackers or sensors and actuators are checked for their robustness against moisture, dust, shocks or vibration. Only when a device has passed all of these tests can service level agreements (SLAs) be maintained.

Radio Policy Manager

If manufacturers want Telekom to certify a module or a chipset they will for example need to implement and activate a Radio Policy Manager (RPM). This feature is part of a GSMA guideline. The GSMA is the global association of mobile network operators and it aims to monitor the behavior of IoT devices in the cellular network. That helps to protect the network from signal overload due to incorrectly programmed IoT applications and badly configured hardware. RPM is currently the only industry solution in global use to control IoT device communication. That is why Telekom collaborates closely with chipset providers to integrate this function in their protocols for, say, NB-IoT and LTE-M devices.

The Benefits of Certified Hardware for Enterprises

Certified hardware offers companies indispensable advantages for their IoT projects:

  • Every device in the portfolio is certified both technically and in respect of regulatory requirements.
  • All hardware, be it sensors, gateways or tracking modules, runs smoothly on network, cloud and platforms and has sufficient computing and storage capacity.
  • Firmware or feature updates can be installed without problems on all connected devices.
  • Companies do not need to develop firmware or applications of their own. All devices are plug & play. There are no problems with provision and implementation either.
  • The time saved leads to faster times to market.
  • Companies that are active internationally in, say, transportation casn rely on their IoT trackers to transmit reliably across borders thanks to roaming.
  • Customers receive in Telekom’s one-stop shop everything they need for their IoT project from a single supplier: from connectivity and hardware to the platform and cloud service.
  • The network operator thereby has a 360-degree view of the entire IoT project and can react immediately or even intervene proactively to irregularities.

The list of available IoT hardware for customers is constantly growing longer and Telekom now has the world’s most comprehensive catalog of NB-IoT devices. Customers must be able to choose from the safest and most reliable hardware, especially for important IoT applications in areas such as track & trace, logistics, retail or building automation. Telekom is constantly on the lookout for new partners that want their products to be certified for use in the Telekom network.

Become a Certified Telekom Partner!

In order always to offer our customers the best hardware we are constantly on the lookout for new and competent partners and innovative products. Certify your devices yourself at minimum expense to be included in our portfolio.

Become a partner now


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Ümit Günes
Ümit Günes

Marketing Manager IoT

Having been with Telekom since 2008, Ümit possesses a comprehensive understanding of various facets of the Internet of Things. He has a keen interest in the digital transformation of the business world. On this blog, he shares insights into the latest developments and trends in the IoT sector that provide genuine value to customers.