United States —
5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, today announced the publication of LTE and 5G Technologies Enabling the Internet of Things, a report focused on the key radio technologies specified by the 3GPP global standards body that aim to create a strong ecosystem for the Internet of Things (IoT), much like the very successful global mobile broadband market built with LTE.
The term Internet of Things (or Everything) has been coined to describe the vision of an interconnected network of physical objects that interact with people, other physical objects and systems in an effort to benefit society in unprecedented ways. There are two key categories for IoT use cases that are well-addressed by LTE and future 5G technologies — Massive and Critical IoT. There exist, however, many use cases between the two extremes, which are already operating today on 2G, 3G or 4G mobile wireless connectivity.
“An industry transformation is underway, fueled by a myriad of global developments including the continuous expansion of internet connectivity, a high adoption of mobile devices and an exploding array of innovation initiatives,” stated Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas. “Such a transformation is a natural development in the process to materialize the vision that ‘anything that can benefit from an internet connection will have one’ and IoT can be at the forefront of this transformation.”
The paper details 3GPP developments such as Enhanced Machine-Type Communication (eMTC) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), which are expected to offer an excellent platform for a wide variety of IoT use cases. Constructing the foundation for IoT on LTE technology enhancements such as enhanced Machine-Type Communications (eMTC), Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and power management mechanisms specified by 3GPP takes advantage of the well-established global ecosystem and economies of scale of LTE. In light of the fact that GSM is the most deployed cellular technology and that 2G Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections account for the majority of M2M mobile connections worldwide, the paper also outlines the IoT innovation by 3GPP for GSM networks, namely Enhanced Coverage-GSM-IoT (EC-GSM-IoT).
Key objectives of IoT will be achieved with cellular connectivity, namely, reduction in device complexity and cost, extended coverage in support of deep-indoor and remote applications, deployment flexibility, high capacity, and long battery life. Included as key considerations for future IoT are the following:
- Security – Similar to present LTE networks, enhanced Machine-Type-Communication (eMTC) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) support state-of-the-art 3GPP security, with authentication, signaling protection, and data encryption
- Scalability – Cellular networks are built to handle massive volumes of mobile broadband traffic; the traffic from most IoT applications will be relatively small and easily absorbed. Operators are able to offer connectivity for IoT applications from the start-up phase and grow this business with low TCO and only limited additional investment and effort. Operation in licensed spectrum also provides predictable and controlled interference, which enables efficient use of the spectrum to support massive volumes of devices.
- Diversity – Cellular connectivity offers the diversity to serve a wide range of applications with varying requirements within one single network. Cellular networks can address everything from Massive to Critical IoT use cases.
- Connectivity Requirements – To meet the new connectivity requirements of the emerging Massive IoT segment, 3GPP has taken evolutionary steps on both the network side and the device side. The key improvement areas addressed in 3GPP up to Release 13 are: device cost, battery life, coverage and support for massive numbers of IoT connections.
- Licensed Spectrum – Operation in licensed spectrum also provides predictable and controlled interference, which enables efficient use of the spectrum to support massive volumes of devices.
- Mature Ecosystem – The cellular mobile industry represents a huge and mature ecosystem, incorporating chipset, device and network equipment vendors, operators, application providers and many others as well as the 3GPP standardization forum, which guarantees broad industry support for future development.
Featured in the paper is a comparison between two unlicensed IoT technologies and the specified 3GPP technologies for IoT with GSM and LTE as well as the future path to 5G.
Andreea Timberlake, Vice President, Business Development, Radio Access Networks at Ericsson and co-leader of the white paper noted on the conclusion of the working group that, “3GPP wireless technologies offer compelling technological advantages that will continue to boost the ability of LTE infrastructure to address the massive IoT market well into the future, with 5G joining the IoT landscape before too long.”
In 3GPP Releases 14, 15 and beyond, standards aim at resolving any business bottlenecks to enable the vision of 5G and the massive IoT market — the explosion into billions of devices and sensors that represent a digital representations of our real world — driven by low cost devices, long battery life, coverage everywhere and innovative business applications. The promise of 5G is that it will be possible to realize critical IoT applications, which require real-time control and automation of dynamic processes in various fields such as vehicle to vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), high speed motion and process control. Critical parameters to enable the performance required are network latency below milliseconds and ultra-high reliability. Both are intrinsic components of the 3GPP work to define the new radio interface for 5G, NR. The 5G network architecture is being designed to cater to both IoT scenarios.
Vicki Livingston, Head of Communications at 5G Americas added, “Overall, 3GPP standards aim at bringing innovations into the existing 4G networks and designing 5G from the start such that a growing span of IoT services can come to the market in the short term without extensive network builds.”