M2M IN AN LTE WORLD. Keys to meeting connectivity needs with evolving cellular networks and capabilities

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1 M2M IN AN LTE WORLD Keys to meeting connectivity needs with evolving cellular networks and capabilities

2 M2M in an LTE World Within the industry/market space we call the Internet of Things (IoT), there is an increasingly significant universe of devices that communicate with one another without any human intervention. These devices are called machine-to-machine (M2M) devices. When M2M devices connect to the Internet, they use machine-type communications (MTC). This type of communication is generally data-only and does not typically include the kinds of communications humans prefer, such as plain text, voice, audio, and video. Although some M2M devices crossover and include some human-machine interface (HMI) features and functions, this paper focuses on MTC as it applies to M2M devices in the rapidly emerging LTE world. This paper will dig into what LTE is, where it is going, and how M2M devices can make the best use of it. IoT Human to Human (VOLTE) Human to Machine Machine to Machine LTE Category M Is LTE a Good Fit for M2M? Not all M2M devices connect to and through the Internet. However, those that do will typically connect through the cellular network to reach the Internet before connecting to various Internet-connected devices and services. For a device to connect to the Internet though a cellular network, the M2M device must have a cellular modem to establish a radio connection to cellular towers. The cellular modem and antenna(s) must support the various radio frequencies, modulation schemes, and protocols to connect and communicate as designed by the cellular carrier. In the larger IoT space, the trend across 2G, G, and 4G/LTE has been for cellular carriers to increase their voice and data bandwidth and coverage for human users. Clearly, the rapid evolution of cellular technology has been most strongly influenced by mobile computing, which includes smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Digi s 2014 white paper, Cellular State of the Union - Considerations for 2G, G, 4G LTE Wireless Design, explains why cellular technology has rapidly been incorporated into new products that must connect wirelessly to the Internet and cloud services. This paper also explains the legacy and future evolution of cellular technology and the things to consider when deciding which cellular technology is best for new-product designs. In the M2M space, there are device applications that run the gamut from low- to high-bandwidth requirements. There are many M2M applications that are bandwidth intensive, and many of these are already using LTE. For these high-end M2M devices, LTE has quickly become a great fit and a long-term solution. Basically, what s good for human users also serves high-end M2M markets very well. M2M in an LTE World PAGE 1

3 There is also a rapidly growing segment of the M2M market which includes devices designed to monitor and control just about anything imaginable. Typically, the data requirements for these devices are small - consistent with requirements for low power consumption, small footprint, and low cost. The goal is to minimize device size and communication costs so that the addition of the monitoring device is a marketable proposition. There are measureable benefits to remote wireless monitoring and control of existing machinery, and as cellular technology evolves, M2M opportunities have increased significantly. Of course, there are M2M applications all along the continuum between the bandwidth extremes, and LTE is evolving to eventually serve all of these markets. Current and future features of LTE will provide flexibility and performance to meet the M2M needs and provide network longevity to help future-proof M2M device designs....although 2G and G are currently sufficient, the advent of LTE means older cellular technologies will eventually be retired. It is important to acknowledge that many M2M applications, especially those near the low-end of the performance range, are already fairly well-served by 2G and G cellular technologies. However, although 2G and G are currently sufficient, the advent of LTE means older cellular technologies will eventually be retired. Listed here is a summary of the projected end dates for various cellular technologies across North America and Europe: Verizon CDMA 2G (1xRTT): 202 Verizon CDMA G (EVDO): 2021 CDMA in Canada: (2015/2016) AT&T 2G GSM: Complete by January 1, 2017 AT&T G UMTS: 202 possible, although no public plans have yet been disclosed according to business.att.com 2G & G in Europe: No end in sight yet, but the implementation of VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE) will reduce the need for 2G and G for voice fallback. Overview of the Cellular Evolution The balance of this paper will provide background about LTE and some insights about how it can be utilized by M2M devices now and in the future. LTE (Long Term Evolution) is currently at the level labeled 4G. It merges the best features of past cellular technologies and provides a unified roadmap into the cellular/wireless future. In response to the rapid rise of M2M applications and devices, LTE has been planned (and has begun) to accommodate the special needs of M2M devices in the future. For marketing to the general public, various generations of cellular technology are identified by their G suffix, such as 2G, G, and 4G. However, to really understand LTE, one must become familiar with GPP: M2M in an LTE World PAGE 2

4 The rd Generation Partnership Project (GPP) unites [seven] telecommunications standard development organizations (ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA, TTC), known as Organizational Partners and provides their members with a stable environment to produce the Reports and Specifications that define GPP technologies. (source: GPP defines the LTE standards and adds a few new terms to our vocabulary. User Equipment (UE), is technically the cellular modem at the heart of the IoT device. Category (Cat) number identifies the features and capabilities of the UE. Release (Rel) number identifies the specification release to which the UE complies. The most recent GPP release was Rel-12 in March Rel-1 is due in March UE AVAILABILITY DATA RATE (TYP) APPLICATIONS 2G G LTE Cat 2+ North America AT&T shutdown by 2017 Generally available worldwide Generally available until Full North American coverage now LTE Cat 1 Rel-8 (2008) Carrier support and first Cat 1 modems available now LTE Cat 0 Rel-12 (March 2015) Carrier support unknown UE expected by 2017 LTE Cat M Rel-1 (due March 2016) Includes strong support for MTC UE expected in kbps IoT: , text, basic Web browsing M2M: Lowest cost certifications and modem options; single antenna Mbps IoT: Video streaming, rich browsing. M2M: Where most M2M market resides now. Single antenna option available > 50 Mbps (full duplex) 10 Mbps (full duplex) 1 Mbps (half duplex) ~200 kbps (half duplex) IoT: Real-time gaming, video chat, VOIP M2M: Suitable for larger devices that cost more and have room for dual antennas (cost is higher for modem and certifications) M2M: Modems are comparable to Cat 2. Cost is still higher than G. Helps to get M2M devices on the LTE networks. Single antenna option expected M2M: Comparable to G Lower cost, simplified modem Longer battery life Single antenna option is expected M2M - Comparable to 2G Smallest, lowest-cost. and lowest-power LTE modems Single antenna, longer range M2M in an LTE World PAGE

5 M2M User Equipment Availability LTE Cat 1 and higher categories are now available for hardware development and deployment on existing carrier networks. If an M2M device can tolerate the higher modem and certification costs and is not on an extremely tight power budget, LTE is an option today. Single-antenna waivers are possible. All commercially available LTE M2M routers and gateways are Cat 1 or higher. The timeline graph below presents the expected future rollout of the lower categories of Cat 0 (defined in GPP Release 12, 2015), and the yet-unnamed category, often referred to as Cat M (defined in GPP Release 1, 2016) because of its focus on MTC. Commercial deployment is the phase in which modems and network infrastructure exist, and M2M devices can be designed and deployed on carrier networks. The graph shows that commercial deployment for Cat 0 (Rel-12) will be possible in late 2016 and could be possible for Cat M (Rel-1) in early For modem-component manufacturers and those pursuing very high-volume designs, Cat 0 chipsets are available now. Commercial Deployment is the phase in which modems and network infrastructure exist, and M2M devices can be designed and deployed on carrier networks. These are the projected time periods in which the next generations of M2M devices can fully adopt LTE. Note, there should still be several years for M2M devices to transition to LTE before earlier-generation networks are completely shut down Rel-12 Work Item Implementation Commercial Deployment Rel-1 Work Item Implementation Commercial Deployment Note: Cat 0 (described in Rel-12) is a step toward the more desirable Cat M and both require network and UE improvements prior to implementation. It would be less disruptive if both could be implemented in one step rather than two. As such, there has been much discussion in the cellular market that Cat 0 might skipped entirely, or at least be delayed and implemented along with Cat M. In this case, there would be market pressure to move Cat M into commercial deployment sooner. M2M in an LTE World PAGE 4

6 Considerations for M2M designs with LTE today LTE Cat 2+ (available now) Pros Gets a device on LTE networks now. Coverage is well-established across North America. G fallback is available when LTE is not available. Futureproofing through modem families maintaining common footprint and software. Improved connectivity with antenna diversity. Cons Development and certification costs are about 0% higher than with G. Cat 2+ modems might not fit the low-end M2M device s size, power, or cost requirements. Can be more costly than 2G or G modules. LTE Cat 1 (just becoming available) Pros A slight improvement over Cat 2+ for low-end M2M applications. Modems are coming to market from leading manufacturers. This is basically a simplified Cat 2+ modem design, with some possible cost reduction. Single-antenna options will likely be allowed by some carriers and supported by hardware manufacturers. Will operate on existing LTE networks. Cons Development and certification costs are about 0% higher than G. Modems are still similar to Cat 2+ and might not fit the low-end M2M device s size, power, or cost requirements. More costly than 2G or G modules. LTE Cat 0 (much better fit for most low-end M2M devices) Pros Designed for low-end M2M market. Speeds and performance comparable to G, which is suitable for many devices now. Simplified radio architecture for smaller sizes and lower-cost hardware and certifications. Single-antenna designs will be supported. Designed to take advantage of low power, infrequent operation. Cons Specification frozen in GPP Release 12, March UE and networks not yet developed. Commercial deployment of modems is not expected until early Carriers must make network updates before deployments can begin. Still more costly than 2G or G modules. Will likely be delayed and implemented with the next Category M. See the note below. M2M in an LTE World PAGE 5

7 LTE Cat M (will usher in the next generation of truly advanced low-end M2M devices) Pros Targeted toward MTC in all respects. Lowest power, lowest cost, smallest size. Longer range. Speeds and performance comparable to 2G. Cost comparable to 2G modules. This will happen, but may take time. This is the future of low-end M2M cellular communications. Cons Specification due in GPP Release 1, March 2016 (pending). UE and networks not yet developed. Modems appear on manufacturer s roadmaps but not expected until Carriers must make further network updates beyond Cat 0 before commercial deployments can begin. Summary Is LTE a good fit for your new cellular M2M design? YES, IF: NO, IF: You are presently designing or connecting devices with high bandwidth requirements and require fallback to G or 2G. You are presently designing or connecting devices with minimal bandwidth requirements and high cost-sensitivity. Your devices will be deployed in the next year and must support a 5-7 year working life. Your device does not have enough space for a Cat 1 design. There are significantly smaller 2G and G modems available now. You are deploying in regions with adequate LTE coverage. You are deploying in regions with adequate 2G coverage and network longevity. M2M in an LTE World PAGE 6

8 Key Takeaways M2M is a distinct market within the IoT space with a wide range of performance requirements. G, and in some regions, 2G, technologies will continue to serve M2M markets for many years. High-end M2M applications are currently well-served by LTE and will continue to be in the future. Although the high performance of LTE is overkill for some M2M applications, the geographic coverage, network longevity, and carrier promotion of LTE make it a logical choice for many M2M applications today even if 2G or G bandwidth is sufficient. LTE Category 1 is a small step in favor of low-end M2M applications, but has disadvantages over G solutions that are expected to endure for many years. LTE Category 0 devices won t be available until 2017 if at all, and will probably be replaced by the anticipated Category M deployment in LTE Cat-M is the future of low-end M2M communications. Contact a Digi expert and get started today PH: Digi International Worldwide HQ Bren Road East Minnetonka, MN 554 Digi International - France Digi International - Japan Digi International - Singapore Digi International - China /digi-international Copyright 2015 Digi International Inc. All rights reserved A1/1115 While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, complete and up-to-date, all information is provided AS IS without warranty of any kind. We disclaim liability for any reliance on this information. All registered trademarks or trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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