Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Alexis Argent
4Gon speak to EMS i-MO about the i-MO 310 and i-MO 540 4G Bonding Routers, plus plans for 2014
Craig Herrett, 4Gon Solutions: Broadcasting from various countries around the world using wireless technology, this is 4G Uncovered, a 4Gon Solutions UK podcast. I’m Craig Herrett and joining us today is Andrew Lambert, Managing Director of EMS Ltd. Thank you for joining us today Andrew!
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: Well thank you for inviting me!
4Gon: So, we’re here today to talk about your product, the i-MO. Could you please tell the 4Gon listeners a bit about i-MO and the service that you provide?
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: Electronic Media Services has been trading for 18 years and we have been manufacturing and marketing bonding routers for 7 years. Our early products were developed for the new 3G networks and were designed to provide a reliable secure data connection at remote and temporary locations. We were the originators of bonding cellular routers here in the UK. The initial customers for i-MO have been in construction and local government. In the construction sector, it takes on average 12 weeks to get a telephone line and broadband service at a construction site. That’s obviously an average, they’re in city centres where a line can be provisioned in a few days but more remote or difficult sites it can take many months. With i-MO we are able to supply a fast reliable data connection in just a few days. We have won several industry awards for our product, especially in the construction sector where we’ve enabled “rapid site setup” which was a big problem for them. For local government, we provide data connectivity for mobile libraries and various mobile outreach services. We’ve got a range of added value professional service solutions, for example network design and device configuration. This helps reduce the length of the sales cycle and offers extra margin for dealers and our resellers. To maximise the performance and ease of deployment of i-MO, we run some hosted aggregation services here in the UK and we’ve got some global locations (Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and the US). All of our products are designed and manufactured in the UK.
4Gon: i-MO sounds like a fantastic appliance. It really is the office in a box.
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: It is yes, and that’s what i-MO stands for; Intelligent Mobile Office.
4Gon: The i-MO 310 and i-MO 540 feature a technology called OptiBond. Tell us a bit more about this.
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: OptiBond is the name we’ve given to the software element of our new range of multichannel routers. It builds on our 7 years of experience of multichannel bonding. Unlike many other products in the market, OptiBond offers true bandwidth aggregation. We can aggregate ADSL lines, WAN links and 3/4G data links to provide high performance links and improve resilience. We can seamlessly failover from one class of connection to another. For example in Singapore where high speed WAN links are readily available we have customers who aggregate multiple WAN links to give them additional speed but also resilience. Some of these customers have business critical applications, so they equip their i-MO’s with 4G modems and they are able to failover to a 4G connection in the event their WAN links fail completely. The latest i-MO appliances support up to 6 SIMs and 3 4G cellular modules. The OptiBond software will intelligently select the best 3 SIMs to use. We can do this based on the type of the networks that are available and the speed of these networks or it can be by the data allowance on the SIM. For example you can install two SIMs from one network, it will use the first SIM until the data allowance on that SIM is exhausted, and then it will switch over to the second SIM. Obviously, managing SIMs at remote locations where you have a lot of data usage can be quite a big problem and that’s why we’ve added this ability to have up to 6 SIMs.
4Gon: This feels like a real turning point for bonded routers.
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: Yes, there are no other products that allow you to switch the SIMs like this on the market at the moment.
4Gon: So you’ve highlighted some of the key features of the i-MO. What are some other key features and applications of the i-MO product?
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: The i-MO 310 appliance was designed for mobile or small remote offices. The unit can be powered either from an automotive supply or from a regular 120/240 volt AC supply. Based upon the available published information, our competitor analysis shows that the cost of our latest generation of products is typically 30% less than our competitors for a similar configuration. We also have an number of value added options and features that make i-MO perfect for use at remote offices. The i-MO 310 has 6 Gigabit Ethernet ports which can individually be configured as WAN or LAN ports. The system includes a stateful firewall and supports QoS, so you can prioritise one class of traffic over another, so you can prioritise your VoIP traffic or interactive remote desktop traffic over general web browsing. The 310 can it fitted with up to 3 4G cellular modems and up to 6 SIMs, we have already covered how the OptiBond software will intelligently manage the SIMs available. The 310 also has an integrated VoIP switch and can mange up to 20 IP handsets. It provides all the features normally found in a VoIP exchange: call routing, conference calls, hunt groups, voice mail, etc. The 310 can be upgraded with up to 128GB of flash storage which can be used as a file share or local storage at the remote site.
4Gon: Wow so 30% less price, fantastic bandwidth and secure. Sounds fantastic. What benefits does the i-MO 540 have over the 310?
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: The i-MO 540 appliance shares all the great features of the 310 but it is a ruggedized appliance and is better suited to use in temporary applications where it will be frequently moved. It is supplied with a “flight” case that takes the i-MO appliance plus all the accessories, (e.g. antennas and power cord). Once securely packed in the flight case and i-MO can be safely shipped anywhere in the world. The i-MO 540 appliance can also take 2 internal hard drives and these can be configured in a striped or mirrored RAID array and can give you up to a terrabyte of local storage. Both the 310 and 540 can “replicate” files and data save in the local storage to a central server for backup and disaster recovery.
4Gon: Both of these products sound absolutely fantastic, so you’ve really got every option you could possibly want. So could you let our listeners know the difference between the i-MO range and conventional 3G and 4G routers like the Netcomm 4G100W, Dovado Pro and the Teltonika RUT500?
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: Unlike many other products on the market OptiBond offers true bandwidth aggregation. You can build resilient, high-speed links using ADSL, WAN and 3G/4G data links. It is also an enterprise grade router appliance. While the OptiBond software is intelligent and it does a lot to manage the links and bond them together, there are lots of other parameters that can be “tuned” for special deployments. For example the network characteristics and business requirements for a mobile application, where the vehicle is moving and may occasional lose signal, are different from a retail application where rapid failover is important to maintain the best customer experience.
4Gon: OK. What does 2014 hold for I-Mo? Any future plans or products in the pipeline?
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: We are adding a number of management tools that will make it easier to monitor SIM usage and manage appliances remotely. We have an ongoing R&D activity and will release a number of enhancements to OptiBond and additional value added products, so we have a CCTV module which we will have available in 2014. We’re also doing some more intelligent data compression. When we started developing i-MO 7 years ago, 3G was a new technology that gave a step change increase to 384 Kbps over the much slower data rates available with GPRS and with a dual modem system we were able to give our customers speed a 700Kbps which was better than many ADSL lines at that time. Several years ago HSDP was introduced that this an initially gave speed up to 1 Mbps, the technology has repeatedly been improved and dual cell HSPA systems that are now offered by some networks offer speed up to 40 Mbps. Our customers have found new ways to use this extra bandwidth and they have business processes which depend on this higher speed. So we are excited about the deployment of 4G and believe this will drive many new applications and ever increasing data usage, especially in areas like the Internet of Things and smart cities where having a high performance always on data connection opens up a wealth of new applications and innovative developments. As a successful UK company we have been invited to be part of the British Pavilion at CeBIT 2014. If you are attending CeBIT next March then I hope you will come to our stand and say hello.
4Gon: Of course I will, Andrew. It really sounds like i-MO will be going places. It’s been fantastic talking to you today, Andrew. Thank you very much for your time and I’ll definitely come and see you at CeBIT!
Andrew Lambert, EMS Ltd: Thanks very much and it was a great pleasure to talk to you, Craig.
4Gon: This has been a 4G Uncovered podcast, brought to you by 4Gon Solutions. For more information, please visit www.4gon.co.uk
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