5G: Vision 2020

Roughly a year ago, the Wireless Broadband Alliance, www.wballiance.com, announced its Vision 2020 program, which moves away from a specific focus on Wi-Fi and toward a broader platform based around many unlicensed spectrum bands and technologies.

The organization says this will play a role in pushing the boundaries of wireless experience and business cases. This will eventually lead to 5G. As part of this initiative, the organization recently released a new report that focuses on the unlicensed road to 5G.

The report shows the unlicensed spectrum technologies have come a long way from being the “disruptive younger sibling” of the licensed-based networks. It looks beyond unlicensed spectrum on its own, and toward the rising levels of convergence with licensed technologies. This will enable new performance and flexibility for service providers.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance addresses the convergence and coexistence driving next-generation wireless, key developments in the Wi-Fi platform and ecosystem, business models enabled by heterogeneity, and the road toward the 5G future.

According to the report, the end result will be a flexible, radio-neutral 5G environment in which a whole new generation of business models will be able to thrive in unlicensed, as well as licensed spectrum. This will ultimately help build on a long history of innovation in the Wi-Fi community.

 

Modules Span the Globe

In the world of IoT (Internet of Things) and connected devices, low-data rate communications across long distances using sensors and actuators is essential.

As such, LoRa, a wireless technology developed to enable this communication, has become an option for many applications because of its long-range capability, ability to enable battery-operated assets to function for years, and its low cost and high ROI (return on investment) benefits. And now, many of the key IoT players are releasing new solutions with this in mind.

Case in point: MultiTech Systems, www.multitech.com, which recently came to market with new versions of LoRaWAN modules. In November, the company announced version 2.0 of its MultiConnect mDot software platform and MultiConnect xDot, which is a secure endpoint module to communicate on LoRaWAN networks.

Functionality allows customers in markets that are not supported by the LoRaWAN spec to use code in creating new channel plans suited for their region. Also, the new module’s software supports the Australia channel plan with the MultiConnect mDot.

The company says both MultiConnect mDot and MultiConnect xDot are compliant with the LoRaWAN 1.0.1 specification and are compatible with LoRaWAN Class C operation. Both versions are also FCC certified with LoRa Alliance North American Certification Pending.

These new modules are designed for applications that need long range and can be battery operated for years to come. While this is one example, it builds on what LoRa is delivering.

 

Smart Irrigation Skyrockets

Connected farming and agriculture isn’t the way of the future. It is here today, and a new partnership looks to extend this even further—particularly as it relates to smart irrigation.

Senet, www.senetco.com, and Paige AG, a division of Paige Electric Co., www.paigeelectric.com, recently partnered to enable smart irrigation in agriculture and address one of the key challenges in the market—poor wireless coverage in rural areas.

Now, LPWANs and LoRA-compatible products are changing the paradigm of farming efficiency, as they offer options for gathering data and transforming the way things are monitored and measured. The companies say LPWANs are ideal for agriculture conditions including weather, soil moisture, chemical compositions of the soil, and other environmental conditions.

Also, LPWANs make it possible to expand per-acre coverage and monitor more assets due to the simplicity of deployment and cost of ownership reductions, according to the companies.

Through their partnership, Senet, a provider of LPWANs for long range-based IoT applications, and Paige AG, a manufacturer and supplier of wire, cables, cable assemblies, and electrical accessories, will work together to enable this smarter irrigation in agriculture.

This news comes at a time when analysts are forecasting the installation of IoT devices in agriculture will increase, and, as such, the industry can expect more partnerships and solutions to emerge in the next few years.

 

Hybrids Drive Fuel Economy Forward

Fuel economy is essential for both consumers and businesses, and many rely on the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency), www.epa.gov, fuel economy labels on vehicles to make informed decisions on which fits into lifestyle and budget.

Now, a new analysis from Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, finds that those labels do in fact largely reflect real world gas mileage. This is in contrast to a 2005 analysis that found that the EPA label differed significantly from fuel economy tests conducted by Consumer Reports.

Following the report, the EPA updated its testing procedures in 2008 to include faster driving speeds, faster acceleration, air conditioning use, and colder temperatures. Today, there is no significant difference between the test results and the EPA estimates.

This is good news for drivers that are looking for fuel efficient cars. Recent Consumers Union surveys show that drivers place a very high value on fuel economy when making car buying decisions.

The EPA also recently released its latest Fuel Economy Trends report, which found that fuel economy reached a record high of 24.8 MPG (miles per gallon). This is an increase of 28% since 2004.

This also comes at a time when drivers still want high horsepower. The EPA report shows that automakers are not sacrificing performance to improve fuel economy. Even as fuel economy improves, horsepower remains at record highs. The EPA report also shows that passenger trucks and SUVs are achieving record fuel economy, even as their share of the automotive market continues to rise.