A Choice of Future m2m Access Technologies for Mobile Network Operators

  • Saur S.

It has been predicted that by the early years of the next decade over 20 billion devices will be wirelessly connected in the Internet of Things. Many of these are set to be connected using short-range wireless systems such as Bluetooth LE, WiFi or Zigbee, but, if so, all of these will depend on some private infrastructure being in place, being accessible and operating reliably. A ubiquitous public cellular network that is associated with ease to use, allows deep penetration into almost all locations, and provides the possibility for truly low-cost/low-energy devices capable of operating for years on a small battery, would be of enormous benefit. It would serve many existing machine-to-machine (m2m) applications such as metering, remote sensing, and telemetry but more importantly would further fuel the rapid development of the mass Internet of Things (IoT) market by providing reliable and accessible connectivity for even the most low-cost/low-energy device: a platform for substantial revenue growth for mobile network operators globally. Today, cellular GSM/GPRS comes closest to serving this market, but there is a view, at least among some players, that current GSM/GPRS does not offer sufficiently cost efficient solutions to support a massive deployment of diverse machine communication. At the same time, LTE, the latest cellular radio access technology, has been designed from the ground up to provide efficient mobile broadband data communications. However, both LTE and UMTS/HSPA in their current forms (Rel-11 and earlier) are associated with a relatively high device cost compared to what is anticipated to be needed for a massive deployment of m2m devices. Also, the battery life capability is currently not sufficient. Finally, there is a view that the existing cellular technologies do not provide sufficiently deep coverage for some m2m applications. As a contribution to addressing these concerns, this White Paper discusses two alternative approaches: evolve available access technologies or develop a dedicated m2m radio access technology which combines the following characteristics: • Use of licensed spectrum to allow controlled quality of service and provide global coverage, ideally over existing cellular bands using existing sites, transceivers and antennas • Supporting deep coverage of low-rate services into highly-shadowed locations including basements, meter closets, manholes and even underground • Supporting low-cost devices that can even be regarded as disposable. • A transparent low-cost IPR licensing regime • Supporting very low device energy consumption allowing devices to operate for a decade or more on small primary batteries without recharging • Optimized for small payloads, as needed for remote monitoring and control applications. One part of this is the need for low signalling and control overhead. • Can be deployed as extensions in GSM/GPRS, UMTS/HSPA or LTE networks. The purpose of this paper is therefore to share across the industry a vision of how a low-cost m2m solution could be developed, either as an integrated part or a complement to the evolution of current cellular technology. This would allow operators to provide connectivity for all sorts of devices in the future in the mass IoT market

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