IoT: LTE MTC standards, Rel.13

IoT Hype Cycle

IoT Hype Cycle

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for the Internet of Things, 2014 , estimates that that IoT will reach the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ in 5 years to 10 years. Before we get there we have to head through the Trough of Disillusionment, which we believe will leave a number of companies going out of business or being absorbed.

Examples of aquisition over the last year:

  • Axeda: Bought by PTC for $170M
  • ThingWorx: Bought by PTC for $130M
  • Neul: Bought by Huawei for $25M
  • Xively: Bought by LogMeIn for £5M
  • SmartThings: Bought by Samsung for $200M
  • Nest: Bought by Google for $3.2Bn
  • Revolv: Bought by Google and shutdown
  • Dropcam: Bought by Google for $555M
  • 2Lemetry: Amazon acquired them. (raised $9 million)

There is big money spent in the chase for the IoT-enabled home with the focus on domestic consumers. And yet at the same time there is also concern over the size of that market and how the business case stacks up – indeed both Philips and Samsung are getting out of the Smart LED business. The irony is that the home market is really the Intranet of Things. Outside of the home, the IoT message is yet to gain traction and, if Gartner is correct then we believe traction will become harder to get.

Rio de Janeiro was possibly the last monolithic smart city plan where IBM delivered a traditional end to end solution. Whilst the results were very impressive, other cities are not following this pattern. London, which has a world leading integrated transport infrastructure has a distributed plan, where different suppliers provide different parts of the solution, but the city itself stays in control and the value of each part is managed.



LTE MTC is the communication that occurs between machines, applications, servers, and devices. The technology utilizes LTE to transfer the data over the network, bypassing the need for human intervention. LTE MTC standardization is governed by 3GPP standards body which delivers service requirements in the form of releases related to 3G and 4G network technologies. LTE MTC can be applicable to various use cases including smart metering, automotive applications, eHealth, security and surveillance, and inventory management. LTE MTC related use cases will also continue to develop over time as LTE networks and the M2M ecosystem matures. ABI Research forecasts LTE M2M connections to grow to 109 million connections in 2019. The forecast model also looked at total LTE cellular M2M module shipments and revenues from 2012 to 2019.

LTE MTC, sometimes called LTE Category 0, is still being defined by the 3GPP. Pieces of it are baked into the LTE Release 12 expected to be implemented in products this year. A full implementation that delivers power and cost savings beyond today’s 2G networks must wait for Release 13, likely appearing in products starting to ship in late 2016.

The spec aims to define a smaller, simpler LTE module that could sell for as little as $5, down from $25 today. To get there, the spec is expected to lower max data rates to 2 Mbits/second and implement a basket of power saving techniques.

A power saving mode already in LTE Release 12 lets a node ask the network to hold its messages while it shuts off. That eliminates the kind of check smartphones execute with the cellular paging network every 2.5 milliseconds.

The spec also aims to increase coverage 20 dB. It targets indoor applications such as gas and water meters often buried in basements. Meanwhile chip makers such as Qualcomm are working on integrated power amps and filters.

M2M Services - Qualcomm

M2M Services – Qualcomm

3GPP specs for MTC are enumerated below: ( – RP-141865)

The general objective is to specify a new UE for MTC operation in LTE that also allows for enhanced coverage compared to existing LTE networks and low power consumption, with the following detailed objectives:

  • Reduced UE bandwidth of 1.4 MHz in downlink and uplink.
    • Bandwidth reduced UEs should be able to operate within any system bandwidth.
    • Frequency multiplexing of bandwidth reduced UEs and non-MTC UEs should be supported.
    • The UE only needs to support 1.4 MHz RF bandwidth in downlink and uplink.
    • The allowed re-tuning time supported by specification (e.g. ~0 ms, 1 ms) should be determined by RAN4.
  • Reduced maximum transmit power.
  • Reduced support for downlink transmission modes.
  • The following further UE processing relaxations can also be considered within this work item:
  • Reduced maximum transport block size for unicast and/or broadcast signaling.
  • Reduced support for simultaneous reception of multiple transmissions.
  • Relaxed transmit and/or receive EVM requirement including restricted modulation scheme. Reduced physical control channel processing (e.g. reduced number of blind decoding attempts).
  • Reduced physical data channel processing (e.g. relaxed downlink HARQ time line or reduced number of HARQ processes).
  • Reduced support for CQI/CSI reporting modes.
  • Target a relative LTE coverage improvement – corresponding to 15 dB for FDD – for the UE category/type defined above and other UEs operating delay tolerant MTC applications with respect to their respective nominal coverage.
  • Subframe bundling techniques with HARQ for physical data channels (PDSCH, PUSCH)
  • Elimination of use of control channels (e.g. PCFICH, PDCCH)
  • Repetition techniques for control channels (e.g. PBCH, PRACH, (E)PDCCH)
  • Either elimination or repetition techniques (e.g. PBCH, PHICH, PUCCH)
  • Uplink PSD boosting with smaller granularity than 1 PRB
  • Resource allocation using EPDCCH with cross-subframe scheduling and repetition (EPDCCH-less operation can also be considered)
  • New physical channel formats with repetition for SIB/RAR/Paging
  • A new SIB for bandwidth reduced and/or coverage enhanced UEs
  • Increased reference symbol density and frequency hopping techniques
  • Relaxed “probability of missed detection” for PRACH and initial UE system acquisition time for PSS/SSS/PBCH/SIBs can be considered as long as the UE power consumption impact can be kept on a reasonable level.
  • The amount of coverage enhancement should be configurable per cell and/or per UE and/or per channel and/or group of channels. Relevant UE measurements and reporting to support this functionality should be defined.
  • Provide power consumption reduction for the UE category/type defined above, both in normal coverage and enhanced coverage, to target ultra-long battery life:
    • Modification, including redesign, addition or removal, of signals/channels can be considered if this can achieve significant power consumption reduction.
    • Reduction of measurement time, measurement reporting, feedback signaling, system information acquisition, and synchronization acquisition time etc., can be considered if this can achieve significant power consumption reduction.

Sources: Qualcomm, 3GPP, Gartner