WiFi vs Cellular

When talking about a connected AED solution, the question arises regarding what technology is best used for the connectivity. Cellular comes to mind immediately, as it is widely available, but carries additional costs. WiFi sounds convenient as well, isn’t it free anyway? Here is what we have experienced:

Yes, WiFi is typically free. Apart from some places that still charge you for a WiFi voucher (a certain trade show in Dusseldorf comes to mind). When looking specifically at AEDs, it is important to look at the total cost of ownership. AEDs typically have a lifespan of eight years, some devices go way longer. A full TCO breakdown needs to include the installation of the AED and the complexity thereof. Furthermore, the time and travel needed for the installation, registering to WiFi networks compared to recurring costs for the cellular service as well as maintenance needs, power consumption, etc. must also to be taken into account. Not every corporate customer is keen to open their WiFi network to you.

On the other hand, there are changing technologies and for example cellular isn’t always cellular: When we first started CardiLink in 2016, we decided on a 2G standard as that had the most coverage in European countries at that time, whereas the more advanced 4G was not reliably available especially in the countryside. Throw another G in play at the time, 3G, which was already being phased out in some places. Today 5G is all the buzz. And that is not even mentioning the numerous narrowband IoT-standards, which we are going to feature in another post

So, as our first best practice and lessons learned we strongly advise making an 8-10 year forecast when designing and implementing a connected AED solution. It needs to connect today and it needs to connect for a minimum of eight years ahead. Which still leaves the question: WiFi or cellular, which one is the more cost-effective and reliable solution over the lifetime of and AED? And which one has CardiLink chosen for their solution?

That depends. In our experience, cellular is far easier to handle when it comes to installation and maintenance of the AED as it is basically plug-and-play. No network configurations, no logins or passwords needed. Place the AED anywhere and if your smartphone has a connection in that place, then the AED will also connect. Which comes at a cost advantage when compared to WiFi, depending of course on the cost of labour. Keep in mind, that WiFi infrastructure may change over time as well. For example, a WiFi router might be replaced and as a result a re-configuration of the connected AED is required. On the other hand, there are recurring cellular charges, which need to be factored in to the total cost of ownership.

In CardiLink, we have chosen cellular for its reliability, ease of use and especially for it’s coverage. For us, AED location tracking is not limited to the range of the WiFi router.

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