IoT Blog

Laptops vs. Routers for Mission-Critical Vehicle Connectivity

Connectivity, AirLink, Routers

David Manuel

David Manuel

Senior Product Manager, AirLink Networking Solutions

4G/5G enabled laptops and dedicated in-vehicle routers can be used by first responders, utilities, transit authorities and other mission-critical organizations to keep their field teams connected. This connectivity helps improve operational efficiency, organizational transparency and safety for workers and the public.

Connected laptops offer increased flexibility compared to a router as they can be used outside of a vehicle environment. However, purpose-built, in-vehicle routers can deliver increased performance, ease-of-use and cost savings compared to a laptop in rugged, complex mobile environments. More organizations are adopting commercial in-vehicle routers whose market is projected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 16.6% from 2021 to 2030. 1

Is an in-vehicle router the right solution for your organization? Below are ten points to consider.

Top Ten Advantages of Using Dedicated In-vehicle Routers for Your Business or Mission-critical Applications

  1. Increased Reliability. A properly designed in-vehicle router is purpose-built and tested for use in harsh automotive environments. Good routers come with aluminum cases, heat sinks and robust electrical systems that can handle transients and low voltage operation. Both routers and antennas are designed to be vehicle mounted and survive temperature, shock and vibration extremes. While many “toughened” laptops are designed for this environment, most consumer laptops are not.
  2. Plug and Play. In-vehicle routers turn on when the vehicle starts. There is nothing to log into, no apps to open, no VPN to enable, no cables to connect and no internal battery life concerns.
  3. Always-On Connectivity. Many routers are equipped with dual cellular radios, multiple SIM slots and advanced software to ensure always-on connectivity while travelling. Many commercial routers will connect to first responder networks such as FirstNet®.
  4. Improved Connectivity. In-vehicle routers can deliver improved connectivity performance vs. a connected laptop or tablet. Much of the improvement comes from multi-element rooftop antenna arrays designed to maximize cellular and Wi-Fi transmission using MU-MIMO (multiple user, multiple input, multiple output) technology in addition to beamforming and other advancements.
  5. Connecting All Vehicle Components. In-vehicle routers enable field teams to connect laptops, phones, body and dash cams, automated license plate readers for law enforcement, fare systems for transit operators, EKG monitors for ambulances and more. A well designed in-vehicle router connects individual devices via high data-rate ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity.
  6. Data Plan Cost Savings. Using a single in-vehicle router connects all vehicle devices using a single data plan which reduces operational expenses. This cost savings alone can justify the ROI (return on investment) of installing an in-vehicle router.
  7. LMR Enhancement. First responders and field teams often use LMRs (land mobile radios) to communicate. Some routers enable LMRs to communicate via cellular when they are out of range of the LMR network. Cellular routers can also be used to update LMR radios without tying up a voice channel.
  8. Device Management and Support. Enterprises can monitor the health of every router in the field and provide operational and security updates as required. Companies that sell in-vehicle routers offer installation and operational support, which is essential for reliable field team communications.
  9. Fleet Management and Support. In-vehicle routers have their own GPS/GNSS systems that enable dispatchers to log the location, vehicle track and driver behaviors for their entire fleet. Router management software can connect to advanced fleet tracking software for enhanced trip data.
  10. Protect Business and Mission Critical Data. In-vehicle routers are designed to deliver end-to-end security. VPNs are automatically enabled, and security patches are delivered when available. Built in routers are more difficult to steal than laptops which helps protect critical agency data and public information.
For more than 25 years, Sierra Wireless has been delivering secure, manageable, high-performance cellular networking for mission-critical applications. To learn more about our Vehicle Networking Solutions visit
  • More than 75% of high-performance EMS Systems trust Sierra Wireless routers to support paramedics in the field.
  • 70% of the Top 10 State Police Agencies use Sierra Wireless purpose-built routers in their vehicles.
  • More than 50% of the Top 100 Police Departments rely on Sierra Wireless routers in cruisers and incident response vehicles.
  • More than 80% of the Top 20 US Utilities use Sierra Wireless routers for smart grid deployments and vehicle fleets.
  • All of the Top 10 Oil & Gas producers rely on Sierra Wireless to keep their infrastructure running smoothly.
  • More than 25% of the Top 50 US Transit Agencies depend on Sierra Wireless to improve passenger services and operations.
Call us at 1-877-687-7795 or email for more information.   References
  1. Allied Market Research. Portable Automotive Wi-Fi Router Market 2021-2030. Sept 2021.

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