December 2015

Brought to you by Sequans Communications

For the past several months this column has been dedicated to discussing LTE (long-term evolution). Much of the focus has been on LTE for the IoT (Internet of Things) regarding the coming Cat 0 technology that will appear in the next release of the 3GPP standard, Release 12. There is one camp that believes companies can just software-upgrade Cat 1 chips to make them Cat 0 when the standard gets finalized and deployed by operators. There are others that insist that merely doing a software upgrade of Cat 1 hardware is insufficient if you want to take full advantage of the module cost reduction opportunities available from Cat 0. What both camps do agree upon is that LTE is the future of IoT, and the future is now. Connected World magazine, Editorial Director Peggy Smedley, recently asked LTE chipset maker Sequans Communications, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Craig Miller, to provide a list of the top 10 benefits of LTE for the new wave of devices now being invented. Here is his list:

1. Superior technology
LTE is the most advanced cellular technology to date, offering higher speeds and lower latency than any predecessor technology. It is also more spectrally efficient, more flexible, and less expensive than 3G with more cost reduction features coming. This benefits every type of IoT or M2M business case.

2. Secure
LTE provides strong, link-level encryption and operates in a proven SIM-based end-to-end security paradigm, enabling mission-critical applications in many sectors, including government, utilities, security, industrial, and financial.

3. Scalable
With its flat, all-IP architecture, LTE networks are designed for high capacity and nearly infinite scalability to support massive numbers of connected nodes.

4. Efficient
Because of its superior spectral efficiency, LTE is significantly lower in cost per bit than 2G or 3G, benefiting not only the operators, but also the users of cost-sensitive M2M and IoT devices and services.

5. Flexible
LTE is developing in two directions: one addresses the needs of the highest performance, highest throughput devices such as smartphones and tablets, and the second addresses the needs of lower throughput, lower complexity devices such as M2M and IoT devices. LTE, while once deemed too expensive and complex for M2M, has now been optimized to support M2M and IoT requirements, including asymmetric traffic patterns, lower data rates, longer idle periods, as well as ultra low power savings modes and narrower channel bandwidths.

6. Universal
LTE is the first truly global wireless communicationsstandard and is the fastest growing technology in the history of wireless. The GSA forecasts that LTE subscriptions will exceed 1 billion worldwide by the end of 2015, and predicts there will be closer to 3.7 billion subscriptions by the end of 2020, exceeding 3G. For M2M and IoT devices there are specific LTE category choices available that make LTE suitable for every kind of M2M or IoT device.  These include CAT 1 (10 Mbps), CAT 0 (up to 1 Mbps), CAT M and NB-IoT (hundreds of Kbps). These implementations are grounded in the LTE standard and provide compatibility and interoperability with existing LTE network deployments.

7. Stable
The LTE MTC roadmap provides significant improvements in coverage, link robustness, and interference mitigation, making it ultra-reliable.

8. Standardized
LTE standards are defined and developed under the 3GPP global initiative, ensuring a vibrant ecosystem and strong and continuing support from mobile operators all over the world, as well as ongoing interoperability and compatibility.

9. Clear development path
LTE development under the auspices of the 3GPP standards body ensures continuity, competitiveness, quality of service, continued cost reduction, and worldwide recognition. Coming new releases of the LTE standard (releases 12 and 13) define many new features specifically applicable to the IoT and focused on reducing complexity, cost, power, and coverage.

10. Future proof
M2M and IoT devices must exist in the field in some cases for ten years or more and LTE is only future-proof connectivity solution. Eventually, virtually everything that requires a wide-area wireless connection will use some form of LTE.

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