Wi-Fi and Cellular Industrial Router

April 11, 2013
Designed for machine-to-machine connectivity, the Spectre 3G cellular router from B&B Electronics also features 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

When it comes to discussions of industrial wireless networks, most of the attention tends to be given to the better-known industrial protocols such as WirelessHART and ISA100. But over the past year or so, an increasing amount of attention is being paid to he use of cellular and Wi-Fi in the industrial space.

A new router from B&B Electronics combines both cellular and Wi-Fi into one device. The Spectre 3G-W cellular router was developed to provide local machine-to-machine (M2M) network connectivity via multiple options: a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, Ethernet 10/100 and I/O ports, and to the Internet via CDMA and HSPA+ cellular telephone networks. B&B says the Spectre 3G-W can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot as well as scan for and tie into existing short-distance wireless networks.

Industrial uses for the Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities include locating the router in either hazardous or hard-to-reach places so that technicians can connect to it via Wi-Fi rather than physically connecting to the Ethernet port. The router is reportedly able to connect to any Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as sensors, and can provide long-range Ethernet connections to any device within range of the cellular network.

For more information about Wi-Fi as an industrial networking option, watch the video interview I conducted recently with Mike Fahrion of B&B.

B&B claims the router is well-suited for M2M connectivity in harsh or remote environments because of its rugged metal casing, DIN-rail mounts and operating range of -30 to +60 degrees C.

Use of Firmware-Over-The-Air (FOTA) technology in the Spectre 3G-W allows users to set the router to automatically update its configuration and firmware from the operator’s central server. According to B&B, this allows for simultaneous mass reconfiguration of every router on the network. 

Built on the wireless and cellular technologies leveraged through B&B’s acquisitions of Quatech and Conel, the Spectre 3G-W is available in two versions: The RT3G-300-W includes one 10/100 Ethernet port, one USB host port, one binary input/output (I/O) port, Wi-Fi and dual SIM card holders (the second SIM card holder provides network redundancy, as the router can automatically switch between GSM service providers or plans, if one connection fails); and the RT3G-310-W, which includes an additional Ethernet port.

The Spectre 3G-W supports 802.11b/g/n standards, 64/128 WEP, TKIP, and AES authentication, as well as WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK and shared security. The router also supports VPN protocols including IPSec, OpenVPN and GRE tunneling. It also supports DHCP, NAT, NAT-T, SMTP, DynDNS, NTP, VRRP, HTTPS, SSH, OSPF, RIP, BGP control by SMS and more.

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