An Industrial IoT system is a complex architecture encompassing sensors, communications, big-data storage, edge computing and advanced analytics among its disciplines. In the communications segment, the ‘last hop’ for Industrial IoT is now wireless wherever possible, driving cost saving, increased flexibility and greater mobility than wired connections. When considering the last hop, a key question, which we will investigate in this paper, is which wireless technology to select: for large-scale Industrial IoT networks, the viable technologies are variants of the Wi-Fi used in enterprise networking today, and 4G from public or private cellular networks.The paper examines the underlying technical strengths and weaknesses of each technology in the network models used today, comparing Wi-Fi 5 (also known as 802.11ac) with public and private 4G architectures. It also covers the emerging Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) and 5G technologies which will become available to the Industrial IoT market in the near future.
Technology comparison is a very complex exercise, where assumptions and models exert a huge influence on the results. Network architects looking for evidence on which to base a decision would be well-advised to wait until equipment is available and to test for themselves. But in the interim, we outline in this paper the issues involved in such a comparison.