In the last post, we covered that M2M modules and LTE networks must be prepared for IoT deployment. This blog post details the requirements needed, including some of the specifications/features outlined by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Program), a collaboration of telecoms associations.
Requirements are separated into three broad functional categories: device, network and common requirements.
Faster Data Transfer
IoT services currently require low data transfer rates between device and application server, and can run well with GPRS connectivity. However, data-intensive applications like video surveillance, emergency health services and automotive devices will function only with transfer rates available on 3G or LTE networks.
Since LTE provides better spectral efficiency, competitive cost, and flexible usage of bandwidth, LTE is a better candidate for M2M modules.
Ultra-Low Power Consumption
IoT devices usually have to run on extremely low power – much lower than typical LTE handhelds. Remote locations may require that a device run for up to 10 years on a few AA batteries. It’s critical these devices can remain idle for prolonged periods. They should also be able to accept greater latency and longer gaps between transmissions. The following 3GPP features would help reduce power consumption in M2M devices:
Cost and Size
LTE modules are generally larger and more expensive than GPRS solutions. 3GPP Releases 12 and 13 already include LTE features for Machine-Type Communications (MTC) that reduce cost and size:
The LTE module can be further optimized by using 10-14 nanometer silicon technology, low speed memory (SDRAM) and slower processors.
Ease of Development and Integration
IoT devices must go through proper testing and approval to enable more efficient network integration and faster service deployment. Requirements should include:
- Hardware/software compliance modules for OEMs
- Certifications from regulators and standards bodies
- Approvals of carriers or network providers
- Country-specific requirements
Handling Overload and Congestion
Serious network congestion issues can arise when a large number of IoT devices try to connect to a network simultaneously. There can even be a domino effect if one network fails and devices start attempting to connect to other available options. 3GPP Releases 10 and 11 have several features intended to prevent overloading by conducting checks before devices connect to networks.
Experience suggests that these features be configured according to device types, to help control mobility-level congestions.
There can be situations where an IoT device’s abnormal behavior leads to network overload. While a solution for this type of situation is beyond the scope of 3GPP features, it’s crucial that one is established to maintain an efficient IoT ecosystem. This can be achieved by continuously monitoring device behavior, diagnosing any problems at the network level, and disabling any faulty devices.
Scalability and Ease of Deployment
It’s clear that there are challenges around deploying non-3GPP standard technologies and scaling them up to support all potential IoT/M2M services. Hence, cellular IoT will be the natural connectivity solution in the M2M landscape. Most of the enhancements required to support IoT on existing networks are software based. This makes it much easier to expand the infrastructure when required.
Mobility Support between 3GPP and Non-3GPP Technologies
A key requirement of IoT is efficient interworking between LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. This is especially true for ensuring continuous connectivity for applications that require mobility, like ambulance services. It also helps reduce load on the LTE networks and improves device power consumption.
Such interworking features have been supported since Release 8, but have become much more sophisticated in Releases 10 through 12.
All of these features require enhancements across edged M2M devices, Wi-Fi networks and LTE networks. Releases 8, 10 and 12 have helped enhance interworking with Wi-Fi:
Reliability and Accessibility
Although cellular networks have become ubiquitous, outages can be a major problem, particularly in remote areas and in space. It’s important to understand that to maintain contact with minimum manual intervention, network coverage should be increased, and devices should be able to work in very low signal areas.
Many devices, many players
Aligning M2M and LTE for IoT, would require cooperation across technologies and businesses. All stakeholders – device manufacturers, network operators, service providers, government agencies and regulators – need to agree on a broad set of requirements around the technologies involved.
While daunting, the incentives are astounding. LTE-enabled IoT offers a wealth of possibilities as all kinds of devices are connected to the internet, increasing potentials for businesses, as well as efficiency and ease in every area of our lives.