To borrow from Edgar Allen Poe, Quoth the raven, “nevermore”
Sierra Wireless has made it official this week that the AirLink Raven X line is going end-of-life (EOL) sooner than their past manufacturing roadmaps indicated. For Raven X the date for the last order placement has been pegged at June 30th 2013. For Raven XT (Verizon Wireless) the date is May 31st. For Raven XE the date is August 31st.
The Sierra Wireless AirLink Raven X, XT, and XT has long been the standard for M2M cell modems in use for Smart Grid applications in the U.S.A.. Sierra Wireless has released the Sierra Wireless AirLink LS300 (1101489, 1101490, 1101491) cell modem as a replacement for this line and many of utility industry clients are currently testing it. Feedback has been good so far, but change is never easy, especially for utility and energy companies where long test-cycles are a part of the best practices.
Is Sierra Wireless going to be firm with their scheduled sunset of the ultra-profitable Raven X line? My inclination is no, however, prudence dictates that the alternative LS300, GX400, and GX440 be tested immediately in order to move them through the standards department and into production.
For those who are interested in keeping informed about the latest wireless connectivity options available for electric utility distribution automation and transmission automation, there are many exciting developments at DistribuTECH 2013. Today at DistribuTech in San Diego, Sierra Wireless announced the immediate availability of their new, ultra-compact, intelligent modem, the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300. With external dimensions of about 3′ by 3.5″ this wireless gateway is a smaller footprint than the Raven X or the GX400/440, which means it fits well into environmental enclosures and NEMA cabinets. Although the Sierra Wireless LS300 is small in size, it is very rich in features. It has an Ethernet port, a serial port (on the side) and also contains a GPS reciever. The price of this device is less than the Raven X and the GX400 platforms even though it exceeds or matches the feature set of both of these cellular network devices. Clearly, the intent of Sierra Wireless with the Airlink LS300 is that this device will replace the Airlink Raven X going forward. Key clients have already been seeded with test/demo units of the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300. For those evaluating M2M communication device, the LS300 is worth considering when researching cellular Ethernet/serial gateways. It is worth noting that the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300 is available only for the Verizon Wireless and AT&T 3G cellular networks, not their LTE networks. Clients that want LTE will have to opt for the Sierra Wireless Airlink GX440.
After getting sporadic reports of issues from our clients using Verizon Wireless 4G LTE devices, we have worked with our manufacturer partners and VZW to connect the dots. Here are the facts. There is an issue with the Qualcomm chipset used on the Sierra Wireless AirPrime MC7750 LTE radio module. The chipset issue does not manifest in all geographical regions, but when it does the following problem can be experienced:
4G WWAN devices have trouble staying connected to the Verizon Wireless network. Apparently, if the device drops out of 4G coverage into 3G coverage, it then has a problem reconnecting. We have seen clients experience this scenario using devices as diverse as a Panasonic Toughbook H2 with embedded VZW LTE, the Sierra Wireless AirLink GX440 1101414, 1101413, 1101531, 1101530 and the CradlePoint IBR600-LE.
Currently, we have been informed by contacts Panasonic and Sierra Wireless that a firmware fix will be available for this issue at the end of November. VZW confirms that these devices are in their labs and that a November date is accurate for VZW to finish necessary testing.
After the new firmware is available, detailed instructions will be posted here to explain how the fix can be applied. It is strange that initial carrier certification testing did not expose this potential issue…
Recently, a client had a question about whether GPS data could be transmitted to a laptop wirelessly using the wireless LAN access point built into the the GX400 or GX440. The answer is “yes, you do not need to use the an Ethernet cable to pass this data.” More info on how to set this up can be seen at USAT’s Common Questions page.
Please remember that NOT ALL of the Sierra Wireless AirLink GX400 and GX440 line contain WiFi access point functionality. This feature is limited to the following Sierra Wireless GX400/GX440 part numbers:
The MP597W and the MP890 can be set up in much the same way.
Sierra Wireless released the GX440 4G LTE device for the AT&T network today, doubling the GX-line’s options for operating on LTE. The part numbers and manufacturer suggested pricing follows. See more details here.
GX440 LTE/HSPA+ AT&T (incl. AC power cable and 5 year warranty)
GX440 LTE/HSPA+ AT&T (incl. DC power cable and 5 year warranty)
GX 440 WiFi
GX440 WiFi LTE/HSPA+ AT&T (incl. AC power cable and 5 year warranty)
GX440 WiFi LTE/HSPA+ AT&T (incl. DC power cable and 5 year warranty)
Since the release of the GX series, we knew a big EOL announcement would be coming, and now it is officially here. The Sierra Wireless AirLink PinPoint X / XT and the MP lines, and all products that fall under these lines are officially end-of-life. The last procurement date will be August 1st, 2012. The first cellular wireless device that USAT sold was a CDPD MP with a booster, so this EOL is bitter-sweet. The GX is in many ways a better product than the MP, so we look forward to helping to transition the many, many faithful users of the MP over to the GX. The GX line represents a cost savings for the former MP user, so this is a silver lining. A complete list of the MP EOL products is copied below:
A member of the USAT team recently traveled to Las Vegas to view a stunning example of how M2M communications can make our nation’s highways safer. USAT was the connectivity partner for Las Vegas Electric, and supported this company’s efforts to design a solution that monitered the wind levels on the highway spanning a Nevada dam. If wind levels, which are monitored real-time using a cellular modem, exceed what is pre-determined to be a safe level, the authorities can act to close the highway. USAT supplied the connectivity device and a turn-key solar power and battery assembly that provided power for the modem (V4228) and the wind speed sensor. The masts used to mount the wind sensors and the photovoltaic panels are mounted right on the side of the dam. As you can tell from the photograph included here, the Las Vegas Electric team was extremely brave to undertake this installation project.
Companies who have been considering deploying the Sierra Wireless GX400 or GX440 intelligent gateways in their applications but have been holding off for WiFi capability can start the procurement process.
Sierra announced the release with the following description;
Utilizing the expansion slot standard in all AirLink GX400 and GX440 intelligent gateways, the Wi-Fi Expansion Card (Wi-Fi X-Card) dramatically increases the capability of the device by providing 802.11b/g/n Access Point (hotspot) or Client Mode functionality. This enables applications for mobile office, temporary office locations, mission critical environments and more.
The Wi-Fi X-Card is a standards-based wireless local-area network (WLAN) card, enabling communication with any other WLAN equipped device, including laptops, smartphones, printers, fingerprint readers and much more. The Wi-Fi X-Card can also operate in client mode giving you the ability to connect to your own Access Point and give the flexibility of using your Wi-Fi network instead of the cellular network when available. All Wi-Fi parameter settings (such as security encryption) are available through point-and-click menu-driven web pages. Key Features: 802.11 b/g/n access point and client support; easily installed; same rugged environmental specifications of the GX devices; security protocols
The card seamlessly integrates with the GX device and user configuration is easily performed through the web-based graphical interface and ALEOS embedded intelligence.
The card itself will be offered for $100 through authorized sellers, while the GX400 will retail for $699 and the GX440 for $899. Sierra Wireless expects to start shipping in late April.