Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) has launched the ICT industry’s first complete cellular low-power wide-area (LPWA) offering, with backing from leading operator AT&T.
Ericsson Networks Software 17A for Massive IoT addresses a comprehensive range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications by supporting millions of IoT device connections per cell site. The new network software introduces narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) to existing LTE network infrastructure, enabling fast rollout of reliable, secure mobile connectivity with low total cost of ownership. Additionally, the network software introduces power-saving functionality for NB-IoT and LTE-M, allowing for more than 10-year device battery lifetime.
NB-IoT, LTE Machine-type Communication (LTE-M) and the previously launched Extended Coverage GSM (EC-GSM) are complementary and address the diversity of LPWA IoT use case requirements and deployment scenarios while making best use of existing networks.
Cellular IoT has a compelling evolution path, flexible enough to handle the diverse range of use cases that support both consumer and industrial applications
Ericsson is driving the enhancement and standardization of new cellular IoT technologies in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the industry body covering cellular telecommunications network technologies. Ericsson was a key contributor to NB-IoT technology and works proactively with ecosystem partners and operators to accelerate the pace of commercialization of advanced cellular IoT solutions.
According to the latest Ericsson Mobility report, 75 percent of the world’s population will be covered by LTE networks by 2021. LTE is already especially well-suited to supporting very high-capacity, low-latency applications. Requirements for lower power, cost and complexity supported by NB-IoT and LTE-M will scale cellular technologies to connect a much wider variation of use cases.
EC-GSM serves IoT applications for all GSM markets. LTE-M supports a broad range of rich IoT applications such as wearables, location-based child-tracker services, and eHealth health care apps like continuous blood pressure monitoring. And the newly defined category NB-IoT covers ultra-low-end IoT applications such as metering and sensor monitoring with greater cost and coverage advantages than LTE-M.
NB-IoT scales LTE to connect a much wider variety of use cases and has flexible deployment options, using a dedicated carrier (200 kHz) that can be deployed in-band of LTE, in a guard band or stand alone. Each NB-IoT carrier can support up to 200,000 connections, which can be easily scaled up by adding more carriers as capacity requires, for millions of IoT connections per cell site.
These new additions continue to cut device cost even further while improving on over 10 years of battery life and extending coverage, with NB-IoT delivering a 20 dB advantage over existing solutions.
LTE provides efficient and flexible options for IoT, scaling both up and down to serve a broad range of uses
A globe-spanning network for the IoT is already in place and standardization will enable the scale needed for billions more connections. Using the same underlying radio solution reduces operational and fault management effort and complexity.
Cellular technologies are uniquely positioned in the IoT market to leverage on the advantages of global reach, Quality of Service, security, scalability and total cost of ownership.
With LTE-M and NB-IoT, cellular IoT is continuing to evolve, with new ultra-low complexity, low-cost device categories like NB-IoT, battery-saving features like Extended Long DRX and the Extended Coverage feature for NB-IoT, also new to Network Software 17A, which will be commercially available during Q4 2016:
- Extended Coverage for NB-IoT delivers up to seven times better coverage to reach remote and deep indoor areas for applications such as vehicle tracking in underground parking lots or smart metering in basements. This comes from an up-to 20 dB coverage improvement with NB-IoT devices.
- Extended Long DRX enables 10-plus years of battery life for LTE-M and NB-IoT while maintaining the downlink reachability required by use cases such as machinery industrial process monitoring and control or home automation.
Operator trials of cellular LPWA solutions will continue in 2016, focused on live network testing of IoT use case scenarios. Ericsson will also feature Cellular IoT demonstrations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event, held January 6 to January 9, 2016 in Las Vegas, US. Use cases include connected scooters/bikes, smart metering and grid management, water quality monitoring, smart agriculture and wearables.
Ericsson Network Software 17A extends LTE to support Massive IoT and diversity in requirements
Chris Penrose, Senior Vice President, IoT Solutions, AT&T Mobility
“Once again the cellular ecosystem proves its ability to adapt to changing market requirements and ensure that investments already made in networks can be reused for new market opportunities. Unlocking the power to wirelessly enable enterprise processes is one of the largest opportunities facing the business world today. IoT is a great opportunity because it's being implemented in every industry vertical and it touches every product that people use daily. And we’ve started to see a trend toward cellular LPWA-first in our IoT business given its advantage of security, reliability and ubiquitous coverage."
Jamie Moss, Principal Analyst, IoT, Ovum
“Nobody wants to see a fragmented IoT industry – maybe now while upstarts are jockeying for position it appears this way, but in the longer run they too are hoping it’s their solution that gains traction. When it comes to the sensor and tracking end of IoT, development wouldn’t be feasible without the scale that standardization brings with it. And in terms of scale, proprietary solutions won’t ever be able to offer the variety of options found with LTE, even after they’ve had the decade LTE has taken to mature. Unlicensed low-power solutions often can’t scale up – but cellular LPWA will scale down.”
Aicha Evans, Corporate Vice President, Platform Engineering Group, Intel
“IoT will enable entirely new categories of devices and services optimized for low power, secure, machine-to-machine communications. By building upon the efficiencies of existing networks, the industry can bring these new capabilities to market more quickly Intel is developing solutions for NB-IoT, EC-GSM and LTE-M, and we are working with a broad partner ecosystem toward making IoT a reality.”
Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Radio, Ericsson
“A few months ago Ericsson announced innovations to accelerate uptake of the IoT, including our EC-GSM offering; now we are expanding on our promise to remove barriers to the IoT with the industry’s first complete cellular LPWA offering, enabling operators to address the full diversity of IoT use cases across their networks. With support for massive numbers of connections, 2016 will be the year of the IoT.”
The IoT promises to change the way we live and work by using connectivity to bring new levels of intelligence that link us with the world around us in ways never before possible. This will require a massive number of connections – orders of magnitude higher than those used by current systems – and solutions that work together and scale to meet diverse requirements.
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