Internet of Things represents an exciting opportunity for device manufacturers, service providers and consumers alike. The ability to connect billions of ‘things’ to the internet is set to profoundly change the way we all interact and make use of countless ‘dumb’ devices that we encounter in our daily lives.
There is of course nothing specifically new about this vision, machine-to-machine services (M2M) have been in existence for decades now and is well established in terms of service and application. M2M service providers have long been using existing cellular networks to enable these services delivering applications such as logistics and asset tracking as well as some more recent examples such as in vehicle telematics. However, the challenge for cellular operators moving forward is how to continue the investment in this space in order to enable the so called IoT revolution – ultimately the success of the cellular industry in M2M depends mainly on addressing challenges affecting cost, power saving and coverage.
M2M over GSM networks will present a dilemma for mobile operators who will need to re-farm frequencies to gain greater spectrum efficiency and consolidate other access technologies. 2G mobile network services in the US have already started to be decommissioned already with existing customers being ported over to LTE. Other wireless operators without access to 2G spectrum allocation will increasingly see LTE as the future-proof option for M2M.
To help operators wishing to make this transmission, standards body, 3GPP, has been working on defining a new profile of LTE in the forthcoming Release 13 specification. The profile is termed ‘Category 0’ (Cat-0) and promises to address the major challenges facing operators and open LTE for IoT.