I am a long-time embedded system designer, but a newbie to embedded cellular connectivity and I need help. I have a client who wants me to develop a product for him to be sold in moderate volumes. The system is an industrial controller and falls under FCC Class A.
- global coverage (North America, the EU, China, some in Africa);
- a protocol that offers some longevity into the future;
- the system to be fully encapsulated except for some application-specific connectors;
- moderately low cost;
- highly reliable (it will be operational 24/7)
I think that items 3, 4 and 5 mean that it will be a custom-designed bare-metal system (no off-the-shelf operating system except perhaps a certified real-time operating system). Items 1 and 2 mean that I should be exploring MVNOs (which is why I am on this site). Items 1 and 2 also make me lean toward LTE Cat M but I am open to any and all advice.
I also need help with the certification process for this system. My understanding is that by using a module that has an FCC modular grant, I reduce the cost and time for certification substantially, but having never done this, I don’t know.
So my questions:
Does a bare-metal system make sense for this? Reliability and robustness are key, and I have experience successfully designing many such systems bare-metal systems and creating reliable software for them. I don’t foresee a problem in that regard.
What are the issues that I face in both hardware and software for integrating a suitable module into my system? I have experience integrating XBee modules, peripheral devices for which a protocol is required, using SPI, I2C, UARTs and similar protocols, etc.
What are my certification requirements to be able to deploy the product world wide?
How can I reduce the certification requirements as much as possible?
I would welcome any help that anyone can offer me.