Connected Home IoT Technolgies and the EU TeamUp5G Project

by David Alejandro Urquiza Villalonga and Manuel José López Morales, researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Introduction:

The concept of the “connected home” has gained a lot of attention in the last decade as a means to improve various aspects of life.  Entertainment, security, energy and appliance control, and electronic health monitoring are just a few representative applications. Recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become increasingly important due to the COVID19 pandemic.  With most employees working from home, remote access tools are booming because they connect people with their machines and assets. They enable people to remotely communicate with machines and perform virtual inspections, remote diagnostics as well as remote support.  

Therefore, the development of a dynamic IoT environment that adapts to each individual’s needs is essential to provide an optimal productivity scenario.  In this article, we describe an intelligent platform which interconnects several sensors and actuators using an IoT approach to collect and process big volumes of data. The IoT system, combined with a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tool, learns the user’s behavior and offers improved new services according to their preferences [1] [2].

In this context, applications related to home security, remote health monitoring, climate control and lighting, entertainment, smart sleep, and intelligent shopping have been developed. 

Challenges in IoT development and deployment:

There are several challenges to support massive IoT deployments providing connectivity for both cellular and non-cellular devices. New technologies with higher energy and spectral efficiency are required to enable smart device-to-device (D2D) communications with reduced connectivity costs [3]. The technical requirements to fulfill include:

• The interconnection of several sensors in an intelligent management platform according to a massive machine-type-communications (mMTC) approach. In this sense, new spectrum access techniques and energy-efficient technologies to support the operation of a large number of devices are required.
• Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) communication to support video streaming for entertainment, remote working, and online teaching.
• Scalability: this will become an issue mainly in relations to generic consumers as the number of devices in operation rises.
• Dense and durable off-grid power sources: it would make a difference if power could be broadcasted wirelessly to smartphones and sensors from a distance.

Popular current smart home devices:

Some of the most popular smart home devices include the intelligent wireless speaker “Google Home” with a connected voice management system that interacts with the Google Assistant helping with music, calendar, news, traffic, etc. On the other hand, Amazon has developed its own intelligent devices, namely “Amazon Echo” (with Alexa) and “Amazon Echo Plus,” which includes a smart home Zigbee hub for easy setup and control of compatible smart home devices.

Far-field speech recognition is included in the  “Amazon Echo Spot,” which is designed with a smart alarm clock that can make video calls with a tiny 2.5-inch screen, or become a nursery camera. LifeSmart provides smart home solutions focusing on security, energy-saving, and bringing convenience to life with a complex network of automatic intercommunication devices that simplifies daily routines [4].

Renesas offers a wide variety of IoT solutions for security, comfiness, health, connectivity and others, for different sectors such as automotive, healthcare, industrial, and home appliances [5].

Supporting technologies for massive IoT deployment:

Nevertheless, many products offered by companies still provide IoT solutions that can be thought as of being in an infancy state. The underlying communication technologies have to increase their capabilities in order to overcome the challenging needs and provide an improvement to IoT solutions.

Therefore, new wireless communication technologies [including 5G (IMT 2020), WiFi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax), Bluetooth 5, etc.] will be combined with classical short range wireless technologies [such as ZigBee, NFC and others] and installed in homes and small business offices.  Low Power Wide Area Network  (LPWAN) technologies from cellular carriers are LTE-Cat M1 , narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) and LoRa/LoRaWAN.

Several studies reveal that higher frequencies are expected to be able to operate as complementary bands for the deployment of 5G networks with higher capacity. It is expected that millimeter wave (mmWave) ultra-dense small-cells supported by massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) will be able to offer the capabilities to interconnect multiple devices and to provide high-speed services even in indoor scenarios. These small-cells may be interconnected with each other and with the core network by means of a fiber optic connection or with a mmWave backhaul.

Editor’s Note:  Some wireless communications professionals believe that a 5G fixed wireless network, using massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) systems at millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies, will be able to offer high throughput and low latency to support many WiFi connected home devices.  Verizon’s 5G Home Internet is an example of this.

On the other hand, network densification is a promising technology to overcome many issues in mmWave systems such as blockage and short-range coverage that can significantly increase the capacity of the network. Therefore, Ultra-dense networks (UDN) compound by small cells (SCs) is also considered to have an important role in IoT connectivity.

In addition, a fundamental feature needed to support massive IoT is scalability on the device and the infrastructure sides which can be provided by 5G cellular networks. 5G systems will be able to offer connectivity to an extremely large number of low-cost, low-power, low-complexity devices, based on an evolution of the current LTE narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) [3].

New radio access technologies will also be required.  For example, cognitive radio (CR) to allocate bandwidth dynamically and to handle high interference levels. In addition, the big data processing capabilities for the AI learning and prediction process is supported only by 5G networks.

TeamUp5G Project:

TeamUp5G [6] is a European Training Network (ETN) in the frame of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSCA ITN) of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 frameworkTeamUp5G’s EU funding adds up to 3.72 million Euros between 2019 and 2022.

TeamUp5G is currently working on the use cases, technical challenges, and solutions to facilitate the technical feasibility of ultra-dense small cell networks.

The research objectives of TeamUp5G are focused on solving three problems: (1) Interference Management, waveforms, and mMIMO, (2) Dynamic Spectrum Management and Optimisation, and (3) Energy Consumption Reduction. Among others, it can provide the technical solutions to make massive IoT Smart Home connectivity feasible. Some of their research results include [7] and [8].

Where in Europe is TeamUp5G:

What Is the TeamUp5G Project:

Image Credit:  TeamUp5G Project

In reference [7], the authors study a cognitive radio system with energy harvesting capabilities (CR-EH) to improve the spectral and energy efficiency according to the green communication paradigm. A novel optimal sensing policy to maximize detection performance of available spectrum and to protect primary users from interference is developed. The proposed scheme is based on the efficient use of harvested energy to implement spectrum sensing operations. Offline and online scheduling policies are derived with an optimal formulation based on convex optimization theory and Dynamic Programming (DP) algorithm, respectively. In addition, two heuristic solutions with low complexity are also proposed to dynamically manage the use of spectrum with high levels of energy efficiency which is essential for IoT deployment.

In reference [8], the authors demonstrated how scenarios with stringent conditions such as high mobility, high frequency selective, low SNR and short-packet communications can benefit from the use of non-coherent mMIMO. Non-coherent mMIMO avoids the need of channel state information (CSI) to extract the benefits of mMIMO. This avoids the waste of resources due to the overhead created by the orthogonal signals, which is more severe in scenarios with stringent conditions. These types of scenarios are very common in Home IoT, since low battery powered devices will be the most common, such as a variety of domestic sensors and actuators. Furthermore, in short-packet communications, the use of CSI is proportionally greater due to shorter useful data as also happens in Home IoT, in which many devices send short bursts of data from time to time, thus benefiting from the use of non-coherent communications.

Thus, it has been shown that new interference management techniques, energy harvesting, and non-coherent communications can overcome some of the technical challenges inherent in IoT networks for Smart Home applications.

Conclusions:

In this article, we have covered some aspects considered in IoT Smart Home 5G. We have first made an introduction with the basics of the use of IoT in homes, aided by 5G technology and AI. Secondly, we have presented some already existing solutions from companies such as Google, Amazon, LifeSmart, and Renesas, which work over legacy networks and thus do not extract all the potential benefits of 5G IoT Smart Home. We have continued stating the main technical challenges in IoT deployment. We have defined some technologies that will support the use of IoT at homes, including massive multiple-input multiple-output, millimeter waves, ultra dense networks, small cells, and cognitive radio. We have talked about the TeamUp5G project which partly focuses on the research of new solutions that can make the massive deployment of IoT Smart Home feasible.

From the perspective of the authors, the following decade will see an increase in the appearance of products based on the referenced  technologies, which will bring the concept of IoT Smart Home based on 5G closer to reality.

References:
[1] K. E. Skouby y P. Lynggaard, «Smart home and smart city solutions enabled by 5G, IoT, AAI and CoT services», en 2014 International Conference on Contemporary Computing and Informatics (IC3I), nov. 2014, pp. 874-878, doi: 10.1109/IC3I.2014.7019822.
[2] H. Uddin et al., «IoT for 5G/B5G Applications in Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Wearables and Connected Cars», en 2019 IEEE 24th International Workshop on Computer Aided Modeling and Design of Communication Links and Networks (CAMAD), sep. 2019, pp. 1-5, doi: 10.1109/CAMAD.2019.8858455.
[3] S. Ahmadi, 5G NR: Architecture, Technology, Implementation, and Operation of 3GPP New Radio Standards. Academic Press, 2019.
[4] https://iot.ilifesmart.com/
[5] https://www.renesas.com/us/en/solutions.html
[6] https://teamup5g.webs.tsc.uc3m.es/
[7] D. A. Urquiza-Villalonga, J. Torres-Gómez, y M. J. Fernández-Getino-García, «Optimal Sensing Policy for Energy Harvesting Cognitive Radio Systems», IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 19, n.o 6, pp. 3826-3838, jun. 2020, doi: 10.1109/TWC.2020.2978818.
[8] M. J. Lopez-Morales, K. Chen-Hu and A. Garcia-Armada, “Differential Data-Aided Channel Estimation for Up-Link Massive SIMO-OFDM,” in IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society, vol. 1, pp. 976-989, 2020, doi: 10.1109/OJCOMS.2020.3008634.

Empowering Low-Power Wide-Area Networks to Meet the IoT Challenge

by Swarun Kumar, PhD, Assistant Professor – Electrical and Computer Engineering,  Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Introduction:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly expanding to connect everyday objects in homes, office buildings, retail stores and factories, impacting sectors as diverse as manufacturing, agriculture and public governance.

While conversations around “5-G and beyond” traditionally focus on faster wireless networks, it is inevitable that the majority of devices connected to future cellular networks will be IoT endpoint.  This is primarily due to their sheer scale of deployment. Indeed, massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) that seeks to connect billions of low-power IoT devices to the cellular network is a pivotal thrust of the 5G vision.  It is one of three 5G use cases for IMT 2020, the soon to be completed ITU st of standards for 5G radio (ITU-R) and non radio aspects (ITU-T).

Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LP-WANs) are a leading approach to achieve this objective [1]. LP-WANs allow extremely low power devices connected by 10-year AA batteries to transmit at low speeds (few kbps) to cellular base stations as far as 10 kilometers away. 3GPP’s Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) is a leading LP-WAN technology being rapidly deployed for cellular networks.  It has been accepted by ITU-R WP5D as part of the IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT submissions from 3GPP, China, Korea, and TSDSI (India).  Other other LP-WAN technologies in the unlicensed bands such as LoRa and SIGFOX have also attained strong market traction.

WiTech Lab Project: Pushing the Limits of LP-WANS. Photo credit: Carnegie Mellon University

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LP-WAN Performance Analysis:

In reality, there remains a large gap between the promised performance of LP-WANs in theory and their performance on the field, particularly in city environments. At Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), we have built a wide-area LP-WAN testbed in our campus and surrounding neighborhoods, spanning much of the City of Pittsburgh [2].

Our findings show that the range of LP-WANs is significantly impacted by large buildings and obstructions, to often less than a kilometer, providing performance significantly below the 10 kilometer performance advertised in more suburban and rural spaces. More problematic is that LP-WAN performance is further degraded by severe collisions between radios deployed at large scale as they are too energy-starved to coordinate prior to transmission. Further, even minor changes to configuration such as choice of transmit frequency can severely degrade device battery-life if not carefully explored and chosen.  That in and of itself is a battery-intensive task.

Across all these diverse challenges a common thread emerges – devices in LP-WANs are too simple and energy-starved to make complex Physical layer decisions that impact their performance, scalability and battery life.  That includes capabilities that have been taken for granted in the traditional mobile phone context.

Our work at the Emerging Wireless Technologies Lab (WiTech) lab at CMU has sought to build next-generation LP-WANs that obtain substantial improvements in range, scale and battery life. Our strategy has been to push complex Physical layer functionalities from the end-user devices to the base station infrastructure and the cloud.

We maintain that redirection of Physical layer functions benefits LP-WANs in three pivotal ways:

  • First, it frees low-power clients from the burden of signal processing, simplifying their design and reaping associated battery benefits.
  • Second, it allows advanced signal processing and machine learning to be implemented at the much more capable cloud in ways previously never possible at the clients, directly improving end-to-end system performance metrics such as range, scale and battery life.
  • Third, it creates the opportunity for programmability – allowing for new optimizations and new services such as location-tracking, sensing, data analytics and beyond to be implemented as software updates in the cloud rather than requiring the deployment of new hardware.

Our results on a 10 square kilometer testbed in the City of Pittsburgh [2] have demonstrated several benefits of our methodology over the years to tackle diverse and fundamental problems in LP-WANs, which have greatly improving scale (by 6x [4]), range (by 3x [1]) and battery life (by 3x [5]) when compared to the state-of-the-art.

Our research work has resulted in several publications [2,3,4,5] at top research venues, including two best paper award winners [2,3].

Expanding the Range Limits of LP-WANs:

Our approach is best understood by focussing our attention on a specific problem – how do we expand the range of LP-WANs particularly in urban settings where their range is extremely limited by buildings that heavily attenuate wireless signals?

The fundamental problem is that the LP-WAN signals from clients deep inside buildings are too weak to decode at any base station, even if within close proximity. Our solution relies on the multiplicity of LP-WAN gateways, specifically with the rapid deployment of femtocells in the cellular context, on street lamps and traffic lights and beyond.

We seek to transfer received signals across base stations to the cloud.  Those signals may be individually weak, yet can collectively be coherently combined at the cloud to result in a much stronger signal that can be decoded.

This principle closely mirrors the CloudRAN model which seeks to offload computation at the base stations to the cloud. Yet, a key problem remains in the low-power IoT context – how do base stations know which signals to ship to the cloud if an LP-WAN signal is too weak and noisy to be detected at any base station?

Simply transmitting all received signals to the cloud will be expensive in terms of backhaul bandwidth and immensely wasteful. Our scheme is to build a mechanism to make more intelligent predictions about the presence of weak LP-WAN signals buried underneath the noise at the base stations. We do this by looking for unique and telltale patterns in the noise that correspond to the signal structure of LP-WAN packets. Different from prior work that only looks for these patterns in the preamble (i.e. the beginning) of LP-WAN transmissions, our solution scans the entire packet resulting in greater accuracy.

We further improve our methodology by letting base stations collaboratively share news about packet detection. For instance, if a weak signal from a transmitter is detected by the base station, it alerts its neighbors to transmit signals received at about the same time to the cloud.

Our experiments revealed significant improvements in the range of LP-WANs by a factor of 3x through a wide-area demonstration at Pittsburgh. [That work received the best paper award at ACM/IEEE IPSN 2018 [2] – a major international conference.]

Scaling LP-WAN Deployments:

Beyond physical range, LP-WANs also need to perform at massive scale.  ITU has set lofty goals for mMTM communications of as many as a million devices per square kilometer. At these massive scales, LP-WAN devices are likely to interfere with each other rampantly, causing massive data loss.

In part, this is because inexpensive and battery-hungry devices traditionally do not take the classic “listen before you transmit” approach to take turns and therefore lack a mechanism to realize that they are producing interference.

Our solution to address this challenge of rampant interference in LP-WANs at scale turns the low cost of LP-WAN hardware to our advantage. Specifically, we observe that the transmissions from cheap LP-WAN devices often have unique imperfections, such as shifts in frequency or time, depending on hardware manufacturing defects. These defects can then be used as filters to separate signals from multiple devices that interfere with each other.

Given the traditionally narrow bandwidth of LP-WANs, this approach allows us to massively scale up the number of devices that can concurrently transmit. Our paper in SIGCOMM 2017 reports an overall 6-fold improvement in the scale of LP-WAN networks compared to the state-of-the-art.

Maximizing the Battery Life of LP-WAN Devices:

Perhaps the most important requirement of LP-WANs is the need to maximize battery-life. A key selling point of LP-WAN is the ten-year battery life that allows for most consumers of IoT devices to simply not worry about maintenance or recharging of batteries through the lifetime of the device.

Our research has shown that this battery-life cannot be taken for granted, even if the devices are installed statically at a fixed location for the duration of its life. For instance, our work in NSDI 2020 [5] has shown that carefully selecting the frequency of operation of a device can substantially improve the battery life of a device, by 230%, rather than choosing a default frequency.

We presented a method and mechanism to intelligently configure LP-WAN devices using intelligence at the cloud, without requiring any advanced computation at the devices themselves, barring the occasional transmission of a beacon packet. Our award-winning paper at IPSN 2020 [3] also showed how teams of individually wimpy LP-WAN devices can collectively convey useful information without draining the battery of each device significantly.

More importantly, such information can be conveyed very quickly within the duration of one LP-WAN packet to then be processed by machine learning algorithms running on cloud resident compute servers. We showed how such a system could have wide-ranging applications from diagnosis of faults in sensor networks to rapid and large-scale spatial tracking of wildfires.

The Future of IoT is in the services it enables:

While much of our research to date has focussed on delivering the energy consumption and communication performance that LP-WANs promise, we believe that LP-WANs can play a pivotal role in shaping the applications that IoT will enable in the future.

Imagine, a postage-stamp sized device that can be used to track the physical location of packages deployed anywhere in the world. Consider how swarms of IoT devices deployed in the city can collectively measure and model vibrations from earthquakes.

Future Work of CMU WiTech lab:

Funded by the prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, we at the CMU WiTech lab are currently working on intelligently processing LP-WAN signals in the cloud to take a step toward these applications and beyond. We are further devising mechanisms to improve the security and privacy of user data in a world where IoT devices are everywhere around you.

More broadly, we believe that next-generation cellular networks, beyond serving as communication pipes, have the potential to actively shape the applications of the future in the emerging IoT era.

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References:

[1] LPWAN to Application standardization within the IETF, Alan J Weissberger, 2019,
https://techblog.comsoc.org/category/lpwans/
[2] Charm: Exploiting Geographical Diversity Through Coherent Combining in Low-Power
Wide-Area Networks , Adwait Dongare, Revathy Narayanan, Akshay Gadre, Artur Balanuta,
Anh Luong, Swarun Kumar, Bob Iannucci, Anthony Rowe, IPSN 2018 (Best Paper Award)
[3] Quick (and Dirty) Aggregate Queries on Low-Power WANs, Akshay Gadre, Fan Yi, Anthony
Rowe, Bob Iannucci and Swarun Kumar, IPSN 2020 (Best Paper Award)
[4] Empowering Low-Power Wide Area Networks in Urban Settings , Rashad Eletreby, Diana
Zhang, Swarun Kumar, and Osman Yagan, SIGCOMM 2017
[5] Frequency Configuration for Low-Power Wide-Area Networks in a Heartbeat, Akshay Gadre,
Revathy Narayanan, Anh Luong, Swarun Kumar, Anthony Rowe and Bob Iannucci, NSDI 2020

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About Swarun Kumar:

Swarun Kumar, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s ECE department.  His research builds next-generation wireless network protocols and services. Swarun leads the Emerging Wireless Technologies (WiTech) lab at CMU.  He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER and Google Faculty Research awards.

Dr. Kumar received the George Sprowls Award for best Ph.D thesis in Computer Science at MIT and the President of India gold medal at IIT Madras.

Photo of Swarun Kumar, PhD and Assistant Professor at CMU

 

LPWAN to Application standardization within the IETF

By Juan Carlos Zuniga, Sigfox, IETF Internet Area Co-Chair, (edited by Alan J Weissberger)

Introduction:

Amongst the plethora of different Internet of Things (IoT) technologies [see Addendum], Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) [1] offer mature and well-established solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Note 1.  A LPWAN is a type of wireless telecommunication wide area network designed to allow long range communications with low power consumption, low cost interface and a relatively low bit rate for the IIoT.  There are many types of LPWANs.  Some like LTE-M and NB-IoT use licensed spectrum, while others such as Sigfox and LoRaWAN use unlicensed spectrum.

LPWANs enables IoT systems to be designed for use cases that require devices to send small amounts of data periodically over often-remote networks that span many miles and use battery-powered devices that need to last many years.

LPWANs achieve those attributes by having the IoT devices (“things”) send only small packets of information periodically or even infrequently—status updates, reports, etc.—upon waking from an external trigger or at a preprogrammed time interval.

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In order to enable these IIoT connectivity solutions, a common standard is needed to allow the various types of LPWANs to communicate with applications using a common language.  For this to occur, each network must have the ability to connect to the Internet.  However, due to the severely restrictive nature of LPWANs, the abilities of Internet Protocols, specifically IPv6, cannot sufficiently meet the needs of these networks.

To overcome these issues, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) chartered the LPWAN working group (WG) in 2016 to identify common functionality needs across LPWANs and to standardize the protocols that could enable these functionalities across the various networks.

The goal of the IETF LPWAN WG is to converge the diverse LPWAN radio technologies toward a common hourglass model that will provide users with a standard management strategy across networks and enable common Internet-based services to the applications.

To achieve this goal, the IETF LPWAN WG has produced the Static Context Header Compression and Fragmentation (SCHC) [2] specification, an ultralightweight adaptation layer uniquely designed to support the extremely restricted communication resources of LPWAN technologies.

Note 2.  SCHC is expected to become a recognized acronym like several  other IETF protocols (e.g. HTTP, TCP, DHCP, DNS, IP, etc.).  Please see illustration below of SCHC Architecture.

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SCHC will soon be published as a new IETF RFC.  Again, it’s objective is to achieve interoperability across the leading LPWANs, including Sigfox, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT and IEEE 802.15.4w(LPWA) [3].

Note 3.  IEEE 802.15.4w or LPWA

Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) extension to the IEEE Std 802.15.4 LECIM PHY layer to cover network cell radii of typically 10-15km in rural areas and deep in-building penetration in urban areas. It uses the LECIM FSK (Frequency Shift Keying) PHY modulation schemes with extensions to lower bit-rates (e.g. payload bit-rate typically < 30 kb/s). Additionally, it extends the frequency bands to additional sub-GHz unlicensed and licensed frequency bands to cover the market demand. For improved robustness in channels with high levels of interference, it defines mechanisms for the fragmented transmission of Forward Error Correction (FEC) code-words, as well as time and frequency patterns for the transmission of the fragments. Furthermore, it defines lower code rates of the FEC in addition to the K=7 R=1/2 convolutional code. Modifications to the Medium Access Control (MAC) layer, needed to support this PHY extension, are defined.

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Why do LPWANs need their own interoperability standard?

The common characteristics of LPWANs include a power-optimized radio network, a simple star network topology, frame sizes in the order of tens of bytes transmitted a few times per day at ultra-low speeds, and a mostly upstream transmission pattern that allows devices to spend most of their time in sleep mode. These characteristics lead to ultra-long-range networks that allow for connected devices to have an extremely long battery life and be sold at a very low cost, enabling simple and scalable deployments.

LPWANs are especially well-suited for deployments in environments where battery recharging or swapping is not an option and where only a very low rate of data reporting is required. Also, LPWAN networks are fundamentally different than other networks, as they have been designed to handle infrequent message exchanges of payloads as small as approximately 10 bytes.

To manage these very specific constraints, the IETF has developed the SCHC adaptation layer, which is located between the network layer (e.g. IPv6) and the underlying LPWAN radio technology. SCHC comprises two independent sublayers – header compression and fragmentation – which are critical to meeting the specific characteristics of LPWANs.

The SCHC header compression sublayer has been tailored specifically for LPWAN technologies, and it is capable of compressing protocols such as IPv6, UDP and CoAP. It relies on the infrequent variability of LPWAN applications to define static contexts that are known a priori to both protocol end points.

The SCHC fragmentation sublayer, on the other hand, offers a generic approach to provide both data reliability and the capability of transmitting larger payload sizes over the extremely constrained LPWAN packet sizes and the extremely severe message rate limitations. Even though the fragmentation sublayer mechanisms have been designed to transport long IPv6 packets, they can equally be applied to non-IP data messages and payloads, as the functionality can be implemented independent of the header compression.

In order to be fully operational across LPWAN technologies, SCHC has been developed by the IETF under a generic and flexible approach that aims to address the common and unique requirements of these networks. The SCHC specification offers enough flexibility to optimize the parameter settings that need to be used over each LPWAN technology.

The IETF LPWAN WG is now working on the development of different SCHC profiles optimized for each individual LPWAN technology, including Sigfox, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT and IEEE 802.15.4w. Future work also includes definition of data models to represent the static contexts, as well as operation, administration and management (OAM) tools for LPWANs.

Here’s an illustration of the Sigfox SCHC:

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From the early stage IETF Sigfox SCHC profile spec:

The Static Context Header Compression (SCHC) specification describes a header compression scheme and a fragmentation functionality for Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies.
SCHC offers a great level of flexibility that can be tailored for different LPWAN technologies. 
The present (early stage) document provides the optimal parameters and modes of operation when SCHC is implemented over a Sigfox LPWAN.

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Addendum –by Alan J Weissberger

IEEE definition of IoT:

“An IoT system is a network of networks where, typically, a massive number of objects, things, sensors or devices are connected through communications and information infrastructure to provide value-added services via intelligent intelligent data processing processing and management management for different different applications (e.g. smart cities, smart health, smart grid, smart home, smart transportation, and smart shopping).”
— IEEE Internet of Things Journal

IoT communications over LPWANs should be:
 Low cost,
 Low power,
 Long battery life duration,
 High number of connections,
 Low bitrate,
 Long range,
 Low processing capacity,
 Low storage capacity,
 Small size devices,
 Simple network architecture and protocols

Also see IETF draft RFC 8376  LPWAN Overview

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Sigfox Network Characteristics:

 First LPWAN Technology
 The physical layer based on an Ultra-Narrow band wireless modulation
 Proprietary system
 Low throughput ( ~100 bps)
 Low power
 Extended range (up to 50 km)
 140 messages/day/device
 Subscription-based model
 Cloud platform with Sigfox –defined API for server access
 Roaming capability

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References:

https://www.ackl.io/blog/ietf-standardization-working-group-enabling-ip-connectivity-over-lpwan

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2017/10/25/lora-wan-and-sigfox-lead-lpwans-interoperability-via-compression/

https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-lpwan-schc-over-sigfox-00

 

2019 IoT World: Market Research from Ovum & Heavy Reading; LPWAN Market to be >$65 billion by 2025

I.  IoT World May 14, 2019 presentation by Alexandra Rehak, Practice Leader IoT, Ovum and Steve Bell,  Sr. Analyst, Heavy Reading.

Edited by Alan J Weissberger

Ovum Forecasts:

  • IoT devices will grow to 21.5bn by 2023, while revenue will nearly double to $860bn.
  • Key trends driving IoT evolution in 2019: enabling technologies, new business models, (industry) verticalization, big data & analytics, new tools, e.g. AI/ML.
  • Drivers for IoT deployment still focus on efficiency and customer
    experience, but many enterprises are looking for new revenue.  Top 4 IoT drivers are to improve: operation efficiency, customer engagement & experience, strategic decision making based on actionable insights, new revenue streams from value added products/services.
  • The biggest enterprise IoT challenge is data – how to secure it, how
    to derive analytics value from it, how to integrate it.  Top 3 barriers to enterprise IoT deployment: data security & privacy (has been top concern for last 10+ years), data analytics skills/data scientists, difficult to integrate with existing IT (and likely OT too), complexity of technical implementation (and systems integration).

Enabling Technologies:

 1.  LPWAN will be a key enabler for cheaper, massive scale IoT
connectivity – and 2019 will be the year it finally takes off (Alan has heard that for several years now!  However, NB-IoT and LoRa are growing very quickly in 2019.)

• <$1 per month connectivity

• <$10 modules

• Low bandwidth, long battery life, extended coverage characteristics

• Use cases: smart cities, consumer IoT, asset monitoring, environmental monitoring

•  NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRa, Sigfox are the big four LP WANs

2.  5G enables enhanced IoT digital capabilities:

▪ High bandwidth services – eg UHD video
▪ Critical applications, which require low latency – e.g., autonomous driving, industrial applications (3GPP Release 16 and IMT 2020 approved standard)
▪ High bandwidth, low latency services – e.g., augmented reality
▪ Information intensive routines, which require low latency performance– eg smart advertising, True AI (is what we have today fake AI?)
▪ Services that can – but don’t readily – work over 4G, e.g., mobile video conferencing

3.  Edge and the IoT opportunity:

Virtualized services (including gateways and vCPE), FOG nodes, life cycle management, linking silos (systems and data), many different applications, data analytics, AI/ML/DL, threat intelligence, device management services, security credential management.

4. Blockchain is still early-stage as an IoT enabler, but promising use
cases are emerging

  • Authentication of devices joining IoT network
  • Supply chain management and verification
  • Smart grid microcontracts
  • Autonomous vehicles

Blockchain will not suit all IoT security and contract requirements.  That’s because it’s: Complex, heavy processing load, not yet fully commercialized, private blockchain space is fragmented, need for supporting regulatory/legal frameworks Autonomous vehicles.

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Industrial IoT (IIoT):

It’s becoming a core focus for the market – and an important testbed for 5G. Requires ultra reliable and very low latency.

IIoT is moving beyond efficiency gains:
• IIoT will grow in importance in 2019
• Drivers: efficiency and margins, competitive positioning, ‘job lots of one’
• Challenges: IT/OT integration, security, traditional business models
• Applications: simple asset tracking/monitoring to complex propositions (predictive maintenance, digital twin, robotics, autonomy)
• IoT, 5G, and AI form virtuous circle for industrial sector and factory
campuses
Private LTE as another enabler (Steve Bell of Heavy Reading was very optimistic on this during the Thursday morning, May 17th round table discussion on 5G and LTE for IoT).  So is this author!

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IoT value chain: evolution from ‘platform providers’ to ‘end-to-end
solution providers,’ simplifying the buying process.  An end-to-end solution requires: sensors/devices/hardware, connectivity, platform (connectivity and device control/management), applications, analytics, integration.

Value chain evolution is also driving IoT business model innovation, for both enterprises and providers.  For connectivity, this includes: flat rate IoT connectivity pricing (e.g. $5 per year), bundled IoT device connectivity, alternative IoT connectivity providers (e.g. Sigfox, Zigbee mesh, BT mesh, etc), private LTE (licensed frequencies so not contention for bandwidth as with WiFi).

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Summary and Recommendations:

  • Enabling IoT technologies: 5G, LPWAN, edge, blockchain – developing
    quickly – but shouldn’t be seen in isolation.
  • IoT data usage & security: Focus of customer concern – stronger support,
    simpler tools needed to deliver value through analytics, eventually AI.
  • Vertical strategies: Industries face significant disruption – understand
    how IoT will help your customer to transform and address these shifts.
  • New IoT business models: increasingly sophisticated – end customers
    very interested, but need help to understand them, manage risk.

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II.  LPWAN Market Forecast from Global Market Insights, Inc.

The LPWAN market is set to grow from its current market value of more than $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion) to over $65 billion (€58.2 billion) by 2025, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc.

Low power wide area network market growth is driven by the growing deployment of LPWA technologies, including LoRa, NB-IoT, and LTE-M, offering a wide range of connectivity options to enterprises. These technologies provide broader network coverage and better battery life to connect various devices. LPWAN networks are becoming very popular among enterprises to support various IoT use cases for verticals including healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, and utilities.

For instance, the rising penetration of Industrial IoT (IIoT) in the manufacturing industry has increased the demand for LPWA technologies, particularly NB-IoT and LTE-M, to enable reliable machine-to-machine communication. Industrial IoT connections are expected to increase nearly five times between 2016 and 2025, from 2.4 billion to around 14 billion connections.

By deploying LPWAN connections, manufacturing companies can increase their operational efficiencies to drive high productivity. Another factor fuelling the LPWAN market growth is increasing investments by companies in LPWAN technologies. For instance, in June 2017, Cisco contributed to a US$ 75 million Series D funding round for Actility, a LPWAN startup. Cisco’s investments in Actility enabled it to accelerate the development of IoT solutions.

The LPWAN platforms held a major market share of over 70% in 2018 owing to the deployment of various platforms, including NB-IoT, LoRaWAN, Sigfox, and LTE-M. Massive IoT deployments in various industry verticals, including utilities, manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare, has increased the demand for LPWAN platforms to support connected devices requiring low power consumption, long range, and low costs. Among all the platforms, LoRaWAN platforms held the highest market share of over 50% in 2018 as they use unlicensed spectrum and are best suited for applications that generate low traffic and require low-cost sensors.

In the services segment, the managed services segment is expected to hold low power wide area network market share of around over 30% in 2025. Managed services enable organisations to accelerate the deployment of LPWAN and reduce the time & expenses spent on training the IT staff. The on-premise deployment model is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 50% over the projected timeline. The demand for this deployment model will increase as it enables organisations to build & manage their own LPWAN for IoT-based applications.

 

References:

Ovum’s latest video on IoT with Alexandra Rehak: https://ovum.informa.com/products-and-services/research-services/internet-of-things

https://ovum.informa.com/resources/product-content/lpwan-tracker-update-lorawan-leads-live-network-deployments-iot002-000005

http://images.intelligence.informa.com/Web/InformaUKLimited/%7B1307c76d-8210-41e4-bec3-ff2db28b0403%7D_Research_Agenda_2019_-IoT.pdf

https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/low-power-wide-area-network-lpwan-market

https://www.iot-now.com/2019/05/22/96056-low-power-wide-area-network-market-valued-us65bn-2025-gmi-report-says/

 

GSA: 102 Network Operators in 52 Countries have Deployed NB-IoT and LTE-M LPWANs for IoT

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reported on March 27th that 102 operators in 52 countries have now either deployed or launched at least one of the NB-IoT or LTE-M technologies.  Of these, 20 operators in 19 countries had deployed or launched both NB-IoT and LTE-M,

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M are low power wide area network (LPWAN) radio technology specifications developed by the 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services, in particular IoT and machine-to-machine applications.  As of the end of March 2019, GSA had identified:

  • 149 operators in 69 countries investing in one or both of the NB-IoT and LTE-M network technologies
  • 22 countries are now home to deployed/launched NB-IoT and LTE-M networks
  • 28 countries are home to deployed/launched NB-IoT networks only, and two countries are home to deployed/launched LTE-M networks only
  • 140 operators in 69 countries investing in NB-IoT networks; of which 88 operators in 50 countries had deployed/launched their networks
  • 60 operators in 35 countries investing in LTE-M networks; of which 34 operators in 24 countries had deployed/launched their network

“The global momentum behind LPWAN deployments is testament to the revenue opportunities which operators are racing to win and monetise in a diverse range of new IoT applications. Significantly, it can also be seen as a precursor to operators replacing legacy M2M services such as GPRS-based trackers and preparing the ground for the eventual switch-off of their 2G networks,” commented Joe Barrett, President, GSA.

The latest data on NB-IoT and LTE-M devices, is fully available to all employees of GSA Executive, Ordinary Member companies and GSA Associates who subscribe to GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices (GAMBoD) service. The report can be found at https://gsacom.com/paper/global-narrowband-iot-lte-m-networks-march-2019/

GAMBoD is a unique search and analysis tool that has been developed by GSA to enable searches of mobile broadband devices and global data on Mobile Broadband Networks, Technologies and Spectrum (NTS). The LTE and 5G Devices database can be searched by supplier, form factor, features, peak downlink and uplink speeds, and operating frequency. Results are presented as a list or in charts. Charts may be inserted into documents or presentations, subject to accreditation of GSA as the source. 

About GSA:

GSA is the voice of the mobile vendor ecosystem representing companies engaged in the supply of infrastructure, semiconductors, test equipment, devices, applications and mobile support services. GSA actively promotes the 3GPP technology road-map – 3G, 4G, 5G – and is a single source of information resource for industry reports and market intelligence. The GSA Executive board comprises of Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung with representation for other members including Viavi Solutions and ZTE.

GSA Membership is open to all companies participating in the mobile ecosystem and operators, companies and government bodies can get access to GAMBoD by subscribing as an Associate.  More details can be found at https://gsacom.com/gsa-membership

Rogers Communications to launch national LTE-M network for IoT in Canada

Rogers plan to launch an LTE Cat M1 network (LTE-M) to help businesses connect and track their assets in real time – using solutions such as logistics tracking, alarm monitoring, and smart metering. LTE-M will connect fixed and mobile low-power IoT devices to carry critical information over long distances, with longer battery life and better network coverage in hard to reach areas. This investment in LTE-M will make IoT solutions more accessible for Canadian businesses, to help them innovate and save money and time.   Network speeds and pricing weren’t announced.

LTE-M is used for fixed and mobile low-power IoT devices sending/receiving data over long distances, particularly for devices needing longer battery life and better network coverage in hard to reach areas.  Telecommunications companies have a long list of potential IoT uses including monitoring pipelines, tracking tools, pallets and factory equipment, home smart meters, monitoring waste bins, street lighting sensors and building infrastructure (HVAC).

“As leaders in IoT, we are committed to supporting our customers as they explore the capabilities and benefits available through Rogers rapidly growing IoT ecosystem,” said Dean Prevost, President, Enterprise, Rogers Communications. “With the launch of LTE-M, we are empowering the adoption of reliable, low cost, and secure IoT solutions that support a variety of use cases such as asset tracking, smart cities, utilities, transportation, and supply chain management.”

The national rollout of LTE-M will start with an initial launch in Ontario by the end of 2018, followed by additional provinces throughout 2019, and a full national rollout completed by 2020. This investment is a stepping stone in Rogers multi-year technology plan to bring 5G to Canadians with its network partner, Ericsson.

“Rogers has a strong history of innovation in IoT. LTE-M continues that leadership and is a key part of our plan towards building a 5G-ready network,” said Jorge Fernandes, Chief Technology Officer, Rogers Communications. “LTE-M will bring Massive IoT to life – a market with tremendous scale for connected devices – and will fundamentally improve how Canadian businesses and cities operate.”

LTE-M is also a great alternative option for all machine-to-machine connections that are still using the 2G network. As LTE-M is rolled out, Rogers will provide its customers with clear and simple options to enhance their service experience when they choose to migrate and upgrade their 2G IoT devices and benefit from all the new capabilities provided by LTE-M. In addition, LTE-M will also enable future consumer IoT applications such as wearables, monitoring and tracking solutions.

“IoT is now a mainstream tool of Canadian businesses, with 81% of medium and large-sized Canadian organizations using IoT solutions today, up from 70% last year[1],” said Nigel Wallis, Vice President, Internet of Things and Industry Research, IDC Canada. “The development of industry-specific IoT solutions addresses unique business needs, like smart utilities and smart asset tracking. Low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) enable businesses to re-think traditional operations practices, and to innovate in ways they would not have attempted before.”

Rogers’ LTE-M website notes that while an IoT device can be installed in an underground parking garage, thick concrete walls can impact coverage, An LTE-based network will help.

The site says LTE-M will offer enhanced wireless coverage; low device cost, because devices for that network are less expensive than current devices; less power drain and extended battery life. LTE-M also can handoff from a Wi-Fi to a cellular network, making it practical for mobile asset tracking needs such as monitoring shipping containers, fleet vehicles or people (for example, patient monitoring). LTE-M supports voice recognition, which is important for alarms and security applications.

Rogers is expanding its portfolio of IoT solutions to meet the needs of Canadian businesses and municipalities. IoT solution providers who are interested in working with Rogers, or participating in LTE-M field trials are invited to submit an application here.

To learn more about LTE-M, visit the Rogers Business Forum.

About Rogers:
Rogers is a leading diversified Canadian communications and media company. We are Canada’s largest provider of wireless communications services and one of Canada’s leading providers of cable television, high-speed Internet, information technology, and telephony services to consumers and businesses. Through Rogers Media, we are engaged in radio and television broadcasting, sports, televised and online shopping, magazines, and digital media. Our shares are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RCI).

1 State of IoT Adoption in Canada: 2018, IDC Canada

SOURCE Rogers Communications Canada Inc

CONTACT: media@rci.rogers.com, 647-747-5118

IoT for Smart Cities: LoRa with Semtech Silicon as a leading LPWAN

Various wireless LANs and WANs are necessary to linking all the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that will give rise to smart cities.  Some of those wireless networks include: Bluetooth Low Energy, ZigBee, Wi‑Fi and cellular technologies are all established, but low power wide area (LPWA) networking technologies, such as Sigfox, LoRa, LTE-M and NB-IoT are emerging as IoT disruptors.

According to analyst ON World, there could be as many as 2.6 billion connected, wireless IoT devices for smart cities, with LPWA networks suitable for 60% of those connections.

 

 

LPWA networks are increasingly used outdoors in parking, utilities, pollution monitoring and other applications that require wireless communication via always-on nodes in a network.

“Different wireless protocols have different benefits, but where the use case is moving sensor data or small amounts of data, LoRa is designed specifically for that,” says Dave Armour, strategic marketing manager for wireless products at Semtech. The company licenses the proprietary LoRa technology and is a founder member of the LoRa Alliance.

LoRa is based on a transceiver design and uses an unlicensed spectrum, allowing users the option to deploy their own gateways or have their own devices communicate with third party networks, explains Samir Hennaoui, product manager, LPWA at Murata Europe. “Some cities have deployed networks based on LoRa that are free to access and service providers have appeared that rent access to their gateways,” he says.

A spread-spectrum modulation scheme supports data rates from 300bit/s to 50kbit/s to overcome the problem of interference in the shared RF band.

Sigfox, a low-cost, wide area M2M technology developed in 2010 by a French company of the same name, probably has the largest market share for LPWA networks today.  Data rates for this technology are 10bit/s to 1kbit/s.

The main differences between the two are range – Sigfox uses narrowband transmission to achieve up to 50km and LoRa has a range of up to 30km – and that LoRa is bi-directional, whereas Sigfox is not.

“Range depends on a number of things,” concedes Armour. With gateways on top of buildings, the range is more than with a gateway inside the building. “In big open areas we are getting tens of kilometres range typically,” he says, “for sending messages from the sensor back to the gateway in the cloud and also getting updates from the cloud back down to the sensor.

“Most technology allows you to send messages back to the network, but LoRa also enables you to receive messages from the network,” says Armour. This, he adds, is a key characteristic, as LoRa will be deployed in devices that are expected to be in long term use, for example parking sensors or occupancy sensors that can be updated over the air (OTA) rather than needing to be physically removed for updates.

The same OTA functionality can be used for security, which Armour describes as a moving target. A multi‑level AES encryption is the default in the protocol. “Encrypted data is sent from the sensor and goes on to the network encrypted. It is only when its gets to the end-user, who has registered the device, that they can unlock the data and decrypt it,” he explains.

“LoRa is designed specifically for moving sensor data, or small amounts of data,” says Armour. “It can do that over a very long range and at exceptionally low power. The consumption depends on the use case, but some of the sensors can run on coin cell batteries for over 10 years,” he says. “The great thing with sensors is that we can install a large number on a gateway in a building and all the data goes easily back into the cloud where you can start to make use of it,” says Armour.

Sensors can be used to adjust heating and lighting according to the number of tenants in a building, or to adjust the billing in multi-occupancy buildings. LoRa is also used for location services, to track goods, using the two-way communications capability.

“LoRa allows you to locate devices reasonably accurately at low power. If your data starts coming from a location that makes no sense to you, that may be because someone is spoofing, or the device has been stolen or moved,” Armour added.

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LoRa Silicon and IP from Semtech (licensed to other companies, e.g. Microchip):

Semtech, the only supplier of LoRa silicon intellectual property, has announced its next generation of LoRa chipsets, with reduced receiver current and high power option to extend the sensors’ battery life.  The SX1262 (the +22dBm option), the SX1261 (+15dBm) and the SX1268 (+22dBm, China frequency bands) are claimed to extend the battery life of LoRa-based sensors by up to 30%.

The chipsets have a footprint of 4x4mm, which is 45% less than the earlier device and they can be configured to meet application requirements using the LoRaWAN open standard.  Frequency coverage is 150MHz to 960MHz and a spreading factor of SF5 supports dense networks. The chipsets also support FSK modulation, making them compatible with legacy protocols.

https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/iot-smart-cities-the-long-range-forecast-for-wireless-connectivity-2018-08/

 

 

 

AT&T acquires AlienVault; says its customers demanded NB-IoT

1. AT&T buys AlienVault:

AT&T has announced plans to acquire cybersecurity company AlienVault. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2007, AlienVault offers a number of tools for detecting and responding to security threats through its Unified Security Management (USM) platform, while its Open Threat Exchange (OTX) platform serves as an online community where security professionals and researchers can share their latest findings and threat data.

2.  AT&T to offer NB-IoT:

AT& already offers cellular LPWAN services (LTE Category 1 and LTE Category M1) for its IoT customers who want to connect devices, assets and equipment to the cloud.  Now, AT&T says NB-IoT opens up new use cases for IoT.  However, the company did not reveal pricing for its NB-IoT data plan(s).

“We already are using LTE-M, and based on a lot of customer feedback we felt that we needed complementary services for other use cases, such as in a fixed asset tracking environment with very low bandwidth uses,” said Shiraz Hasan, VP, IoT solutions at AT&T. “The motivation is cost savings primarily, and the other thing is the ability to utilize the tech a little better because it penetrates even better than LTE-M.”

Shiraz said AT&T has a lot of customers in the security and alarm industries, and that many of these companies are evaluating IoT technology and learning that NB-IoT may serve their needs best. Alarms and locks are often located deep within buildings, so using cellular connectivity to monitor equipment health requires radio transmissions that can penetrate thick walls.

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/at-t-says-customer-demand-prompted-nb-iot-launch

 

AT&T building NB-IoT network in US, Mexico; LPWAN deployments disappoint

AT&T says it will launch a narrowband internet of things network across the US and Mexico in 2019. “Adding NB-IoT to our portfolio will expand our LPWA capabilities, help drive investment in our evolution to 5G, and support our customers as they deploy IoT solutions across the US and Mexico,” said Chris Penrose, AT&T’s president of IoT Solutions.

“Adding NB-IoT to our portfolio will expand our LPWA capabilities, help drive investment in our evolution to 5G, and support our customers as they deploy IoT solutions across the US and Mexico.”

“It really spans every industry out there, connected cars is one of our biggest verticals where we’re adding over a million cars every quarter; we’ve got tons going on in healthcare, agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and asset tracking,” Penrose told ZDNet.

“You name it, we’ve got different solutions out there, and I think we’ve really established ourselves as a true global player; that’s one of the things we also like to say, we can make it happen for you anywhere in the world.”

According to Penrose, AT&T sees smart cities as being a big area, with traction happening in four to five areas: Energy, such as smart lighting; water, including leak detection, smart irrigation, and water quality maintenance; transportation, for instance parking and optimising traffic flow; and smart infrastructure, including roads and bridges.

“We’ve got solutions in all of those different areas, where we’re able to bring to the cities these kind of solutions that they can deploy into their cities to be able to address those particular areas,” he said.

As a result, AT&T created a series of spotlight cities across Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Portland,, Montgomery County, Mexico City, and various college campus environments wherein it allowed the cities themselves to choose what they wanted to solve, and then worked with them to meet those needs.

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Author’s Rebuttal:
We strongly disagree with Global Data (Ms Weldon)’s belief that “5G” will overtake LPWANs.  Most importantly, only about 8 to 12% of IoT applications will need the low latency that 5G will deliver.  The overwhelming majority of IoT applications are low speed, low power, low duty cycle and low cost.  They need solid reliability and strong security much more than (5G) low latency or high bandwidth.
Next is the misconception that “5G is coming sooner than expected.”  That may be true of wireless carrier’s PROPRIETARY deployments, but not IMT 2020 based 5G which will be the only true 5G standard.
It’s curious why so many pundits think anything coming out of 3GPP is a standard when that (honest) organization says their specs have no official status.  3GPP’s first IMT 2020 submission will be a combination of Release 16 (in development) and 15 (completed) at the July 2019 ITU-R WP 5D meeting.
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Reference:

GSMA: NB-IoT and LTE-M deployments gaining market traction; Sequans combo module & NB-IoT silicon

NB-IoT and LTE-M Deployments:

A total of 48 commercial narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-category M (LTE-M) have been launched worldwide as of the end of April, according to the GSMA.  Statistics from GSMA show that 13 mobile operators have deployed mobile IoT solutions, including all of China’s big three wireless network operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.

South Korea’s KTLG Uplus, Singapore’s M1, Australia’s Telstra, Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata and Mobitel, Taiwan’s Far EasTone and Chunghwa Telecom, Japan’s KDDI, Thailand’s True Corp and Vodafone Group have also adopted the technology.

NB-IoT deployments are currently a lot more common than LTE-M, although some operators including Singtel and Australia’s Telstra have deployed both technologies.  AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have all announced LTE-M.  T-Mobile has only announced support for NB-IoT.

Note that both NB-IoT and LTE-M operate over licensed spectrum, which is much more reliable than unlicensed spectrum used in Sigfox and LoRa.  Those latter two LPWANs are much more widely deployed then NB-IoT and LTE-M combined.

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Sequans Combo Module:

During an IoT World panel session on Tuesday May 15th, France chip design house Sequans Communications announced that both Verizon and AT&T would be selling their combined NB-IoT/LTE-M module for $7.50.  Verizon has certified Sequans” Monarch SiP (system-in-package) LTE-M/NB-IoT connectivity solution.  This module integrates Sequans’ Monarch LTE baseband platform with an RF front-end module in the world’s smallest form factor. Monarch SiP was introduced in late February and is now listed on Verizon’s Open Development website as an approved module.  Complete details are available here.

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NB-IoT Silicon:

In a recent blog post, Nick Hunn claimed there are 13 companies (now 17) that have announced NB-IoT chips.

If you count up real NB-IoT deployments, it’s still early days. There are probably fewer than 10 million chips deployed. That’s the figure from Huawei, who is certainly leading the field. How many of those are actually connected and sending data back is questionable – the last year has largely been an exercise in getting things to work and spinning the PR. Nevertheless, Huawei is predicting that by the end of 2018 the number of chip shipments will reach 150 million, which, given the focus on NB-IoT within China, may well happen. The big question is what will happen in the rest of the world. To understand that, it’s interesting to look at the different companies which will be producing silicon.

The thirteen companies I’m aware of (please let me know if you know of any others) are HiSilicon (part of Huawei), Sanechips (a division of ZTE), RDA, Mediatek, Altair (owned by Sony), Sequans, Nordic Semiconductor, Goodix, Riot Micro, Qualcomm and Nesslab, along with ARM and ASTRI/CEVA. ARM and the ASTRI / CEVA partnership are IP vendors, but appear to be at a state where they are already behind some of the offerings, so are worth including, as if anyone plans to ship in volume, they’re an obvious destination. ARM is further differentiating itself by offering a wider-ranging IoT service including device management and aspects of provisioning. I need to apologise for missing GCT, which brings it up to fourteen. And since writing this I’ve been made aware of a further three – Pinecone Electronics (who have Xiaomi as an investor and appear to be building on ASTRI’s IP), Extra Dimensions Technology – a Beijing startup and Eigencomm – a Shanghai startup. That further highlights the China centric concentration and reflects the amount of Government support being put in to make China the leader in IoT. So we have a sweet seventeen, with probably more to come.

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Mobile IoT for the 5G Future

Image courtesy of GSMA

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GSMA says the technologies will coexist with other 5G components.  Also, that 3GPP is working to allow LTE-M and NB-IoT to be placed directly in a 5G new radio frequency band, and is investigating options for the 5G core network to support LTE-M and NB-IoT radio access networks.