Jun 19, 2014

LTE to spur IoT?

A few years ago, it was standard practice to associate M2M with low data rate characteristics that could be served using 2G networks. In fact, there was quite an uproar when some operators started to announce 2G network shut-down plans. Ignoring the economics of operating cellular networks, some industry commentators also talked of retaining a portion of 2G spectrum for M2M devices.

Recently, a representative[1] from Google reiterated the special characteristics (low bandwidth and inexpensive) of IoT applications and the need for a brand new network. Over the past few years, several initiatives have been launched to address the potentially massive, low data and low power requirement segment of the M2M/IoT market; Neul and SigFox are two examples that spring to mind.

It was therefore interesting to hear of a development that has been working its way through the 3GPP standards process. LTE, traditionally associated with high data-rate mobile services, is now being engineered to address M2M/IoT applications. This is not a case of data-intensive video surveillance or digital display applications but the use of LTE in moderate data rate, low cost and long battery life scenarios.