For at least the last 10 years the world has been in connectivity mode. While currently there are around 28 million IoT related devices connected, it’s a small beginning to the huge growth journey that we really only just started to take. With 27 Billion things connected to the internet by 2025, meaning that every human on the planet will have at least 4 IoT devices, the question comes how can the GSM mobile infrastructures we have today cope with what’s to come and the diversity of needs that are evolving.
The answer seems to be coming in a new evolving technology. Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networks are wireless networks optimized for machine communication and IoT.
What are the benefits you may ask? Well it's simply that LPWA brings with it enhanced coverage, the kind of coverage which is deep and in-building, with the possibility to reach devices behind thick walls or deep in a basement. LPWA also brings an extended life to the devices it supports, with devices being able to ‘sleep’ and batteries lasting vastly longer than many current devices’ battery life. It is also, unlike GSM services, supported at a much lower cost. The answer then is LPWA and it will be called by a familiar name to most people. Simply LTE-M.
LTE-M is a licensed LPWA network with features such as lower cost hardware, power optimization, and wide coverage area. Practically speaking LTE-M is a solution, which will help IoT evolve. An LTE-M network with this coverage enhancement, power saving, and lower cost modules solve obstacles that metering companies had in using cellular for connectivity.
Its application will be like that for regular M2M or IoT with some well known and core verticals taking advantage of the new solution:
- Smart City: Utilities
- Asset Trackers
- Security Alarm Panels
- Healthcare patient monitors
- Wearables such as fit bands, watches etc.
LTE-M is special and distinctive; this means that LTE-M specific devices will not automatically work when roaming. They require that both HPMN (Home Public Mobile Network) and VPMN (Visited Public Mobile Network) implement software upgrades to CORE & RAN to support LTE-M roaming. Should an LTE-M based device try to roam outbound to an MNOs partner that does not have the required LTE-M supported core and RAN software, the device would not work. The same bands and system are naturally required.
Just like LTE itself, if a Roaming Partner wants to support LTE–M they will need to update their network with the software upgrades but also share coverage information, test the solutions and agree what the charges will be for the devices in their network. From a roaming perspective then there is some work to be done. But with all the advantages that LTE-M is about to bring, we’ve no doubt that the whole industry will emerge quickly to support it.
Meet us in Marrakesh this September at WAS#6 where LTE-M and a whole host of related topics will be discussed by MNOs. As the leading growth company in Finland, UROS is ready for the next step on the huge connectivity growth journey that the world is taking.