Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWAN) for M2M/IoT have been recognized by industry experts to be a huge and growing market opportunity. The ability to interconnect all variety of widely dispersed machines and cars (soon to be autonomous), has the potential for generating vast economic value. This potential, however, depends upon the availability of new low cost, low power, modem solutions that can be used in high capacity networks. Three different approaches are being developed to address this opportunity:
- Upgrade of existing cellular networks which utilize licensed spectrum
- Development of new WWAN industry standards, such as IEEE 802.11ah (called HaLow) that use unlicensed spectrum
- Invention of new proprietary WWAN systems called LPWA (low power wide area), such as LoRa (Semtech), RPMA (Ingenu), and UNB (Sigfox), all of which use unlicensed spectrum
Existing cellular networks already support M2M capabilities using older 2G technologies. However, many operators are turning off these older networks and re-farming their spectrum to use with newer technology. Advanced chipsets meeting latest cellular standards are designed for higher-cost, higher data-rate smart phones, which make them a poor fit for M2M. Recognizing this, the cellular industry has been hard at work developing new technical standards which are named: LTE Cat-1, LTE-M, NB-IoT, and EC-GSM-IoT. These standards have been mostly finalized and chip vendors are in-process of designing new advanced chipsets, while network infrastructure is being upgraded for the new standards also. Significant testing will still be required, along with application development, in order to monetize this huge new market opportunity.
The IEEE 802.11ah standard using low-frequency unlicensed spectrum (see graphic below), is considered a longer-range Wi-Fi standard. It is an excellent choice for private M2M networks to interconnect machines within about 1km distance both in-building and outdoors.
Global ISM Frequency Bands (sub-1GHz)
Low Power Wide Area:
LPWA proprietary systems have been launched and are endeavoring to attain critical coverage goals to attract subscribers. These systems use unlicensed spectrum, and they require lower signaling overhead (since they don’t require compatibility with an existing cellular system). This enables them to potentially achieve the lowest per-device cost and power consumption of any of these systems. Their level of success will depend on attracting enough customers to reach economies-of-scale.
Aviacomm provides RFIC transceivers for existing M2M standards and we are developing new devices that are optimized for low power consumption, cost, and size to support next generation M2M communication standards. Please see our product page for our solutions.