OptConnect ema™ vs. Socket Modems

Last year, we revealed the creation of OptConnect ema™ at IoT World in Santa Clara, CA. OptConnect ema™ is a fully certified LTE Category 4 modem with onboard intelligence, embedded firmware, and software paired with OptConnect’s industry-leading suite of managed services. 

As excitement and interest grew with ema, we continued to engage with interested parties who were looking for an easier way to launch their IoT project with reliable connectivity. One question we get over and over is from people wanting to know what is different about ema compared to other socket modems available in the market since they look so similar. 

A socket modem is a cellular modem that is a complete, ready-to-integrate communications device. There are some similarities between ema and a socket modem, including: 

  • End-device certification with regulatory bodies and carriers
  • Common hardware and software interfaces across a line of products by a modem provider
  • Built on a cellular module that aligns with wireless technologies (4G LTE (CAT1, CAT3, CAT4, etc.) or others CAT-M/NB-IoT

However, there are key differences between the two that make OptConnect ema™ much easier to integrate and operate. Put simply, a socket modem is all about the hardware design and integration into your host application, pre-certified, etc., but it does not address the automated software and tools required to manage the modem and the cellular connection once the IoT application is in the field. This functionality can be sourced, built, and integrated into a solution.  But, these additional steps can cause projects required additional resources, add time to the project, incur additional costs, and challenging to integrate, but ema removes all of these hurdles to get to market faster. 

OptConnect ema™ is ready to use.  It has a dedicated communication path for OptConnect to manage the connection for the customer along with all of the necessary security and troubleshooting a failing connection. Also included in ema is the ability to reboot remotely, automatic carrier-to-carrier failover, FOTA updates of the modem and module, and so much more. With ema, all of the low-level software to enable, monitor, and heal cellular connectivity is included.   Some of these unique features available are:

  • emaLink Management Interface: emaLink is a pre-built software package to manage the wireless connection. OptConnect ema™ modems have two UART interfaces; one for the modem and one for the OptConnect ema™ management Microcontroller Unit (MCU) 
  • Board ID: An emaLink cmd that can be used to specify the Board ID. This is a custom ID that can be used by the host for identification purposes. This ID appears in the Summit dashboard and is accessible through the Summit API.
  • Board Notify: A feature that allows any internet-connected device to send small chunks of data to ema using the Summit API secure channel. This allows the user’s host application to utilize ema to remain mostly idle. Without having to periodically send or poll data from the server the application reduces data usage and power consumption. 
  • Glimpse: A unique capability that gives you cellular connection statuses right from your equipment’s screen, minimizing your time on-site. 
  • Access to our monitoring portal, Summit: Our robust, cloud-based customer dashboard so you can manage your devices from anywhere. 

Ultimately, if you’re looking to get to market faster with less embedded hardware and software engineering required from your internal team, than ema is for you. For more information on ema, please visit www.optconnect.com/ema.

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