Showing posts with label Internet of Things. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Internet of Things. Show all posts

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Embedded SIM (eSIM) and Integrated SIM (iSIM)

It's been a while since I wrote detailed posts explaining UICC and SIM cards. Since then the SIM cards have evolved from Mini SIM to Micro SIM and Nano SIM. They are evolving even further, especially for M2M / IoT devices as embedded SIM (eSIM or eUICC) and integrated SIM (iSIM).

Embedded SIMs (eSIMs) or embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Cards (eUICCs) are physical SIMs that are soldered into the device and enable storage and remote management of multiple network operator profiles (remote SIM provisioning). The form factor of eSIM is known as MFF2.

The integrated SIMs (iSIMs) moves the SIM from a separate chip into a secure enclave alongside the application processor and cellular radio on a purpose-built system on a chip (SoC).

We made a short tutorial explaining UICC & SIM and then looking at eSIM, iSIM and how remote SIM provisioning works. The video and slides are embedded below. The slides contain a lot of useful links for further reading.

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Thursday, 27 February 2020

5G and Industry 4.0

Telefónica published an infographic on 'Benefits of 5G in Industry 4.0' last week. You can download it on their website here. This reminded me that we have now completed the third video in our series of IoT.

  1. The beginners guide to M2M, MTC & IoT is discussed here and video is available here.
  2. Industrial IoT (IIoT) vs IoT is discussed here.
  3. This blog post with with embedded video / slide looks at Industrie 4.0 (a.k.a. I4.0 or I4)

Slides and Video is embedded below, let us know what you think.

Related Posts and Links:

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

New 3GPP Release-17 Study Item on NR-Lite (a.k.a. NR-Light)

3GPP TSG RAN#84 was held from June 3 – 6, 2019 at Newport Beach, California. Along with a lot of other interesting topics for discussion, one of the new ones for Release-17 was called NR-Lite (not 5G-lite). Here are some of the things that was being discussed for the Study item.
In RP-190831, Nokia proposed:
  • NR-Lite should address new use cases with IoT-type of requirements that cannot be met by eMTC and NB-IoT:
    • Higher data rate & reliability and lower latency than eMTC & NB-IoT
    • Lower cost/complexity and longer battery life than NR eMBB
    • Wider coverage than URLLC
  • Requirements and use cases –
    • Data rates up to 100 Mbps to support e.g. live video feed, visual production control, process automation
    • Latency of around [10-30] ms to support e.g. remote drone operation, cooperative farm machinery, time-critical sensing and feedback, remote vehicle operation
    • Module cost comparable to LTE
    • Coverage enhancement of [10-15]dB compared to URLLC
    • Battery life [2-4X] longer than eMBB
  • Enable single network to serve all uses in industrial environment
    • URLLC, MBB & positioning

The spider chart on the right shows the requirements for different categories of devices like NB-IoT, eMTC (LTE-M), NR-LITE, URLLC and eMBB.
The understanding in the industry is that over the next 5 years, a lot of 4G spectrum, in addition to 2G/3G spectrum, would have been re-farmed for 5G. By introducing NR-Lite, there would be no requirement to maintain multiple RATs. Also, NR-Lite can take advantage of 5G system architecture and features such as slicing, flow-based QoS, etc.
Qualcomm's views in RP-190844 were very similar to those of Nokia's. In their presentation, the existing 5G devices are billed as 'Premium 5G UEs' while NR-Lite devices are described as 'Low tier 5G UEs'. This category is sub-divided into Industrial sensors/video monitoring, Low-end wearables and Relaxed IoT.

The presentation provides more details on PDCCH Design, Co-existence of premium and Low Tier UEs, Peak Power and Battery Life Optimizations, Contention-Based UL for Small Data Transmission, Relaying for Wearable and Mesh for Relaxed IoT
Ericsson's presentation described NR-Lite for Industrial Sensors and Wearables in RP-191047. RP-191048 was submitted as New SID (Study Item Description) on NR-Lite for Industrial Sensors and Wearables. The SID provides the following details:

The usage scenarios that have been identified for 5G are enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communication (mMTC), and time critical machine-type communication (cMTC). In particular, mMTC and cMTC are associated with novel IoT use cases that are targeted in vertical industries. 

In the 3GPP study on “self-evaluation towards IMT-2020 submission” it was confirmed that NB IoT and LTE M fulfill the IMT-2020 requirements for mMTC and can be certified as 5G technologies. For cMTC support, URLLC was introduced in Release 15 for both LTE and NR, and NR URLLC is further enhanced in Release 16 within the enhanced URLLC (eURLLC) and Industrial IoT work items.

One important objective of 5G is to enable connected industries. 5G connectivity can serve as catalyst for next wave of industrial transformation and digitalization, which improve flexibility, enhance productivity and efficiency, and improve operational safety. The transformed, digitalized, and connected industry is often referred to as Industry 4.0. Industrial sensors and actuators are prevalently used in many industries, already today. Vast varieties of sensors and actuators are also used in automotive, transport, power grid, logistics, and manufacturing industries. They are deployed for analytics, diagnostics, monitoring, asset tracking, process control, regulatory control, supervisory control, safety control, etc. It is desirable to connect these sensors and actuators to 5G networks. 

The massive industrial wireless sensor network (IWSN) use cases and requirements described in TR 22.804, TS 22.104 and TS 22.261 do include not only cMTC services with very high requirements, but also relatively low-end services with the requirement of small device form factors, and/or being completely wireless with a battery life of several years. 

The most low-end services could already be met by NB-IoT and LTE-M but there are, excluding URLLC, more high-end services that would be challenging. In summary, many industrial sensor requirements fall in-between the well-defined performance objectives which have driven the design of eMBB, URLLC, and mMTC. Thus, many of the industrial sensors have connectivity requirements that are not yet best served by the existing 3GPP NR technology components. Some of the aforementioned requirements of IWSN use cases are also applicable to other wide-area use cases, such as wearables. For example, smart watches or heath-monitoring wearables require small device form factors and wireless operation with weeks, months, or years of battery life, while not requiring the most demanding latency or data rates. 

IWSN and wearable use cases therefore can motivate the introduction of an NR-based solution. Moreover, there are other reasons why it is motivated to introduce a native NR solution for this use case: 
  • It is desired to have a unified NR based solution.
  • An NR solution could provide better coexistence with NR URLLC, e.g., allowing TDD configurations with better URLLC performance than LTE.
  • An NR solution could provide more efficient coexistence with NR URLLC since the same numerology (e.g., SCS) can be adopted for the mMTC part and the URLLC part.
  • An NR solution addresses all IMT-2020 5G frequency bands, including higher bands and TDD bands (in FR1 and FR2).
The intention with this study item is to study a UE feature and parameter list with lower end capabilities, relative to Release 15 eMBB or URLLC NR, and identify the requirements which shall be fulfilled. E.g., requirements on UE battery life, latency, reliability, connection density, data rate, UE complexity and form factor, etc.  If not available, new potential NR features for meeting these requirements should further be studied.

There were other description of the SID from Samsung, ZTE, etc. but I am not detailing them here. The main idea is to provide an insight for people who may be curious about this feature.

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Saturday, 6 July 2019

Study of Use cases and Communications Involving IoT devices in Emergency Solutions

Came across this presentation by Michelle Wetterwald, IoT & Emergency services Working group, ETSI EMTEL from EENA (European Emergency Number Association. Thanks to Ken Rehbehn's tweet for making me aware of this. The presentation and the relevant part of video is embedded below.

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Saturday, 29 June 2019

Presentations from ETSI Security Week 2019 (#ETSISecurityWeek)

ETSI held their annual Security Week Seminar 17-21 June at their HQ in Sophia Antipolis, France. All the presentations are available here. Here are some I think the audience of this blog will like:

Looks like all presentations were not shared but the ones shared have lots of useful information.

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Friday, 12 April 2019

Slides from Parallel Wireless Webinar: 5G at #MWC19

I hosted a webinar for Parallel Wireless* yesterday about all the stuff related to 5G at Mobile World Congress 2019. The slides are embedded below and can be downloaded from BrightTalk here. You can also listen to the webinar there.

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*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director in Strategic Marketing. This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and expresses my own views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. Anyone who knows me well would know this.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

ITU-NGMN Joint Conference on “Licensing practices in 5G industry segments"

IPR, Licensing and royalties are always an interesting topic. In the end they decide what price a device would be sold at. If I put it simply, the cost of device = cost of manufacturing + marketing + sales and distribution + support and insurance + profit + IPR. The licensing cost is often added in the end as it could be applicable on the selling price of the device.
The above tweet is interesting as it lists out the IPR costs by major patent holders. I wrote a post earlier detailing the 5G patent holders here. Since then this have moved on significantly. In addition to the royalty charged by the 5G patent holders (it also includes legacy technologies like 2G, 3G, 4G &Wi-Fi), there are patents for messaging, Codecs (seperate for audio / video), etc. To be fair it's a complex process. This is why I sometimes get shocked when I see 4G smartphones selling for £20 ($25).

Coming back to the conference, all the presentations are available on ITU page here.

Sylvia Lu, who wears many different hats including one for CW, UK5G and uBlox and a friend of 3G4G blog was one of the speakers at this conference. Here is a tweet on what she had to say about this event:
For those who may not know, FRAND stands for Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory. Wikipedia has a nice article explaining it here.

NGMN Press Release on this conference mentions the following:

The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance has jointly organised and executed a successful conference on Licensing Practices in 5G Industry Segments with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), bringing various experts from around the world together to discuss licensing practices and challenges of 5G.

The conference featured moderators and speakers from some of the biggest names in telecoms, including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Ericsson, Nokia and Microsoft. Also in attendance were key stakeholders of vertical industries, including Audi, Bosch, Panasonic and u-Blox, and patent pool administrators, namely Avanci, MPEG-LA, Sisvel and Via Licensing, who co-sponsored the event, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the Japanese and the European Patent Offices, and the European Commission.

Focusing on the development of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), the conference facilitated sharing and discussing of present-day licensing practices and related issues across different industry segments.

A host of insightful sessions took place igniting an inclusive exchange on:
  • Patent licensing practices with interactive discussions that focused on issues stakeholders need to be aware of.
  • Sharing licensors’, licensees’ and pool administrators’ requirements on patent pools/platforms.
  • Identifying proposed practices and conducts for licensors and licensees.
  • Listing requirements for increasing transparency and assessing essentiality of Standard Essential Patents declared to Standards Developing Organisations.
“It’s great to notice that our joint ITU-NGMN conference has been such a success,” said Dr. Peter Meissner, CEO of NGMN. “Obviously, the 5G Eco-System is different. New use cases beyond mobile broadband - like massive IoT as well as highly demanding requirements from vertical industries on low latency, ultra-high reliability and security - are causing substantial network transformations. All these challenges have implications on the intellectual property of mobile network operators and across the different industry segments. Conferences like this are key in identifying IPR issues and exploring solutions for the enlarged eco-system.”

If you have any insights on this topic, or just any comment in general, feel free to add them as comments below.

Related Article:

Monday, 7 January 2019

The business case of densifying LoRaWAN deployments

LoRaWAN has recently emerged as one of the key radio technologies to address the challenges of Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) deployments, namely power efficiency, long range, scalable deployments, and cost-effectiveness.

The LoRa Alliance has had an exponential growth with 500+ members with the recent arrival of heavyweight members such as Google, Alibaba, and Tencent joining the alliance.

The first wave of LoRaWAN was primarily focused on large country-wide deployments led by operators such as KPN, Orange, Swisscom and many more. However, the next wave that is already coming is the arrival of private LoRaWAN deployments from large enterprises and enabling roaming for inter-connection amongst public/private networks (esp. for use cases which involve LPWAN Geolocation [8] [9]]). As the IoT deployments grow in both the densification and geographical footprint, it is inevitable that network design becomes one of the important factors ensuring long-term success and profitability of both operators and end-customers relying on LoRaWAN connectivity for their IoT use cases.

A typical example is the recent 3 million water meter contract awarded by Veolia Birdz to Orange [12]: such large-scale projects require careful network planning to achieve the required densification and quality of service while optimizing costs.

A Closer Look at Densification techniques for LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN deployments use a star topology with a frequency reuse factor of 1 which allows simplicity in network deployment and ongoing densification: there is no need for frequency pattern planning or reshuffling as more gateways are added to the infrastructure.

Compared to mesh technologies, the single hop to network infrastructure minimizes power consumption as nodes do not need to relay communication from other nodes. Another advantage is that gradual initial network deployment in sparse mode with low node density is possible, compared to mesh which requires minimum node density to operate. Even more importantly, LoRaWAN is immune from the exponential packet loss suffered by multi-hop RF mesh technologies in presence of increasing interferers and noise floor power.

Another unique feature of LoRaWAN networks is that messages in uplink can be received by any gateway (Rx macro-diversity), and it is the function of a network server to remove duplicates in uplink and select the best gateway for downlink transmission based on the uplink RSSI estimates. This allows enabling of features such as geolocation to be easily built into LoRaWAN deployment and enables uplink macro-diversity that significantly improves network capacity and QoS (Quality of Service).

LoRaWAN also supports features such as Adaptive Data Rate (ADR) that allows network server to dynamically change parameters of end-devices such as transmit power, frequency and spreading factor via downlink MAC commands. Optimization of theses settings is key to increase the capacity and reduce the power consumption of end-devices.

The optimization of LoRaWAN parameters along with densification can lead massive amounts of capacity increase in the network. In fact, the LoRaWAN capacity of the network can scale almost indefinitely with densification.

Figure 1: Actility Webinar - Designing LoRaWAN network for Dense Deployment  [1] [2] [3]

The future of LoRaWAN networks, particularly in urban environments where the noise floor is expected to get higher due to increased traffic, goes towards micro-cellular networks

How does densification lead to lower TCO for Enterprise deployment?

As the network is densified by deploying more LoRaWAN Gateways and adaptive data rate and power control algorithms are applied intelligently in the network, this leads in dramatic reduction of power consumption of end-device and thus reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of end devices. The figures below show clearly that densification can lead to upto 10X savings in both power consumption and overall reduction in 10-year TCO for enterprise deployment. Changing the batteries require manual labor and is the cost that can significantly dominate 10-year TCO of large-scale enterprise deployment (for ex. Smart gas/water meters).

Figure 2: Battery Lifetime Improvement with densification [1] [2] [3]

Figure 3: Impact on 10-year TCO due to densification [1] [2] [3]

Densification leads to very dramatic reduction in power consumption of the end-devices thus reducing overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

LoRaWAN offers disruptive Deployment Models

LoRaWAN is generally deployed in unlicensed spectrum which allows anyone to roll-out IoT/LPWAN network based on LoRaWAN. This allows three deployment models:

1. Public Operator Network: In this traditional model, the operator invests in a regional or nation-wide network and sells connectivity services to its customers.

2. Private/Enterprise Network: In this model, enterprise customers typically setup LoRaWAN gateways on private premises (e.g. an airport), and either have these gateways managed by an operator, or use their own LoRaWAN network platform.

This mode of deployment is a game changer for dense device use cases, as network capacity and enhanced QoS can be provided at marginal increased cost. It becomes possible because LoRaWAN runs in unlicensed spectrum and gateways are quite inexpensive and easy to deploy.

3. Hybrid model: This is the most interesting model that LoRaWAN allows due to its open architecture.

This is not possible or rather difficult in other competing LPWA technologies or Cellular IoT (due to licensed spectrum and absence of roaming/peering model between private and public networks). There are initiatives like CBRS and MulteFire from 3GPP Players but they are still in progress and far from maturity for large scale IoT deployments (esp. for use cases that demand 10-15 years+ battery lifetime).

In hybrid model, operator provides light country-wide outdoor coverage, but different stakeholders such as private enterprises or individuals help in densifying the network further based on their needs on their premises, via managed networks. This model enables a win-win private/public partnership in sharing the costs and revenues from the network and densify the network where the applications and devices are most present.

This model is possible because multiple gateways can receive LoRaWAN messages and network server removes duplication. In the cases where different operators/enterprises run their networks, LoRa Alliance already has approved roaming architecture in “LoRaWAN Backend Interfaces 1.0 Specification” [6] [7] to enable network collaboration.

This model significantly reduces the operator investment and offers a disruptive business model to build IoT capacity where it is mostly needed.

Figure 4: LoRaWAN Hybrid Deployment Model (source : Actility)

LoRaWAN enables Public-Private deployment that allows disruptive model for cost/revenue sharing and densifying the network where it is needed most, depending on IoT application needs

LoRaWAN densification: A Key driver for reduction in Operator TCO

When designing and deploying a LoRaWAN network, the system operator must balance the cost of a dense network (and it's served sensors) against the cost of a sparse network (and it's served sensors).

Traditional vs Opportunistic network designs

In the traditional deployment model, the operator deploys LoRaWAN gateways on telecom towers. This entails leasing the space from the tower owner, purchasing a waterproof outdoor gateway, climbing the tower to hang the gateway, and perhaps paying for additional power, zoning, permitting, and backhaul. The operator does the detailed RF propagation study and hangs enough gateways to provide coverage for the sensor locations required to provide the services he wants to provide.

Another option is to opportunistically deploy “femto” gateways in devices that the operator is already fielding. The gateways are stateless, and thus do not add much complexity to the hosting device. An 8-channel LoRaWAN reference design is mated to the host device using either USB or I2C. The options here are quite diverse. The operator can embed a simple 8 channel gateway into ongoing WiFi hotspots, power supplies, amplifiers, cable modems, thermostats, virtual assistants, or any mass-produced device that already has backhaul. The Bill of Materials adder is quite modest, the power consumption and heat dissipation are less than 3 Watts, and the size delta is roughly 7 cm by 3 cm.

Calculating the number of opportunistic gateways to provide adequate coverage for a given deployment can be challenging. The height of the gateways has a large impact on the coverage of the gateway. A gateway deployed in a 20th story of an apartment building has a much better coverage pattern than the same gateway deployed in the basement of a single-family home. Gateways deployed in WiFi hotspots mounted on power poles have a different coverage area than a gateway deployed on light poles. So, the actual number of gateways deployed in each scenario varies widely. When you complete the detailed design of each network type, you typically find that an opportunistic deployment model allows the operator to cover a given area by deploying roughly 100 times as many gateways for roughly 1/10th of the cost (when compared to the traditional 3rd party leased tower model).

Example use-case with water meters

For the rest of this analysis, we will assume that the operator needs to deploy a LoRaWAN network to service 100K water meters. Water meters represent a difficult RF propagation model. They are installed at or below ground level, must last 20 years, and suburban meters tend to have accumulations of grass and dirt collect over time. Let’s assume a North American deployment model, and we have the option of using a high power (27dBm) or a low power (17dBm) meter.

One possible design is to use a tower-based approach. In a tower-based approach, the operator typically ends up deploying high power water meters in order to reduce the number of (expensive) tower leases. In order to run at high power, the North American regulations require the sensor to send across 50+ channels, which drives the operator to deploy 64 channel gateways. Let’s assume that the average distance between a water meter and a tower-based gateway is ~3km and the sensors need to send one reading per day. Many of the meters thus operate at SF10 at 27dBm. The sensor designer includes a high-power RF amplifier, calculates the energy requirements over the life of the sensor, and sizes the battery appropriately.

Another possible design is to opportunistically deploy thousands of femto gateways into the area. The question boils down to “How many femto gateways do I need to cover the desired area?”. Working backwards from the densest possible deployment, most MSOs (Multiple-System Operator) serve 1/3 of the households in their footprint. In many urban environments, the average distance between a given operator’s subscribers is 30 meters. If such an operator could opportunistically deploy in most of those sites, they would have inter-gateway distances as small as 30 meters. For the purposes of this analysis, let’s say that the average distance between the sensor and the closest gateway is reduced from 3000 meters to 100 meters. When a sensor is 100 meters from a gateway, it can typically operate at SF7 at 17dBm (or lower). Clearly, the network designer must account for a distribution of distances between a given sensor and its closest gateway, but the overall power savings is significant.

It is also instructive to compare the overall capacity of a tower-based LoRaWAN network to the overall capacity of the opportunistic LoRaWAN network. Remembering that 100 eight channel opportunistic gateways cost about 1/10th of a single 64 channel gateway, we realize that we get ~13 times as much network capacity for 1/10th of the cost. As the sensor density increases, we could deploy additional opportunistic gateways and get ~130 times as much network capacity for the same cost as a tower-based network.

When we compare the cost to build a sensor designed to last 20 years using SF10 at 27dBm to the cost to build a sensor designed to last 20 years using SF7 at 17dBm, we find that we can save more than $10 per sensor by deploying the denser network.

So, in addition to saving a significant amount of capital by opportunistically deploying the gateways, the operator can save more than $10 per water meter by opportunistically deploying a dense network. This saves more than $1M on the 100K water meter deployment. When one layers in additional use cases, the dense LoRaWAN network provides sensor savings on each additional set of sensors. Most of the sensors do not have the 20 years requirement and thus do not save the same amount of money, but batteries are one of the primary drivers for any sensor’s cost.


This analysis is somewhat simplified, and a very large-scale deployment may require a certain amount of traditional gateway placement to provide an “umbrella” of coverage that is then densified using opportunistic methods. By densifying the network, the overall sensor power budget is decreased significantly. One could also envision a deployment model in which an opportunistic gateway is deployed in conjunction with a set of services. The operator would add IoT based services to an existing bundle (let’s say voice/video/data, thermostat control or personal assistant) and know that the sensors would be co-resident with the gateway.

What is the future of LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN exhibits significant capacity gains and massive reduction in power consumption and TCO when ADR algorithms are used intelligently in the network. We showed how LoRaWAN networks are deployed for coverage and how network capacity can be scaled gracefully by adding more gateways.

There are already 16 channels in EU, but there have been recent modifications of the regulatory framework to relax the spectrum requirements and increase transmit power, duty cycle and number of channels [22].

Moreover, Semtech released the latest version of LoRa chipsets [23] with the following key features:
  • 50% less power in receive mode
  • 20% extended cell range
  • +22 dBm transmit power
  • A 45% reduction in size: 4mm by 4mm
  • Global continuous frequency coverage: 150-960MHz
  • Simplified user interface with implementation of commands
  • New spreading factor of SF5 to support dense networks
  • Protocol compatible with existing deployed LoRaWAN networks

The above LoRaWAN features and upcoming changes to EU regulations will allow significantly scaling of unlicensed LoRaWAN deployments for years to come to meet the needs of IoT applications and use cases. LoRaWAN capacity depends indeed on the regional and morphology parameters. As we have showed in the above results, if the network is deployed carefully and advanced algorithms such as ADR are used, there can be dramatic increase in network capacity and massive reduction in TCO. This will be one of the main factors that will determine the success of LoRaWAN deployments as the demands and breadth of IoT applications scale in future.

We also showed earlier how LoRaWAN offers innovative public/private deployment model in which operators can build capacity incrementally and supplement with extra capacity by leveraging gateways deployed from private individuals/enterprises. Typically, for cellular networks there can be anywhere from 5-10% IoT devices on cell-edge which are in outage [10]. This applies especially to deep indoor nodes (for example, smart meters with additional 30 dB penetration loss). Such nodes can only be covered by densification of cellular network which is expensive considering it is being done only for 5-10% of IoT devices. One way to address this problem is deploying private LoRaWAN on cell-edge and using multi-technology IoT platform that combines both LoRaWAN and Cellular IoT [11].

On the other hand, LoRaWAN offers a cost-effective way to augment network capacity where it's needed most. LoRaWAN gateways are very cost-effective and can be deployed using Ethernet/3G/4G backhaul with minimal investment in comparison to 3GPP small cells. This allows building IoT network in cost-effective manner and scale it progressively based on the application needs. We believe that his deployment model has dramatic effect on ROI for IoT connectivity based on LoRaWAN.

The LoRa Alliance has standardized the roaming feature, which enables multiple LoRaWAN networks to collaboratively serve IoT devices. Macro-diversity used across deployments enables operators/enterprises to jointly densify their networks, hence providing better coverage at lower costs. The future of LoRaWAN as shown below will be private/enterprise network deployments and disruptive business models through roaming with the public networks [4] [5] [6] [7].

Figure 5: Future of LoRaWAN deployments

LoRaWAN does provide horizontal connectivity solution to address wide-ranging needs for IoT applications for LPWAN deployments. However, these benefits are only possible with intelligent network server algorithms proprietary to network solution vendors

For any questions, contact the author below,

[1] Actility webinar Replay: Designing a LoRaWAN Network for Dense Deployment,

[2] Actility webinar slides: Designing a LoRaWAN Network for Dense Deployment,

[3] Actility Whitepaper: Designing a LoRaWAN Network for Dense Deployment,

[4] Actility webinar slides: Industrial IoT - Transforming businesses today with LoRaWAN,

[5] Actility webinar Replay: Industrial IoT - Transforming businesses today with LoRaWAN,

[6] Actility webinar slides: LoRaWAN Roaming Webinar,

[7] Actility webinar Replay: LoRaWAN Roaming webinar,

[8] Actility webinar slides: Multi-technology IoT Geolocation,

[9] Actility webinar Replay: Multi-technology IoT Geolocation,


[11] Actility Whitepaper: How to build a multi-technology scalable IoT connectivity Platform,


Friday, 28 September 2018

Multi-technology :The future of IoT geolocation

In the big world of IoT, location tracking  is the  next  frontier!. Location tracking for humans is already an integral part of our lives especially for navigation. Traditional technologies enabling this are  not only expensive, they  have technical boundaries preventing scaling. For IoT geolocation to become a true reality, it is inevitable it has to be  extremely accurate, extremely low cost, and extremely low touch. 

Where is the market?

Research and Markets predict revenues from Geo IoT will reach $49 billion by 2021.

Just as location determination has become an essential element of personal communications, so shall presence detection and location-aware technologies be key to the long-term success of the Internet of Things (IoT). Geo IoT will positively impact many industry verticals. – Research and Market report about “Geo IoT Technologies, Services, and Applications Market Outlook: Positioning, Proximity, Location Data and Analytics 2016 – 2021.”

Connecting IoT objects is already a large market growing exponentially with the mix of unlicensed Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRaWAN, and combined more recent introduction of Cellular IoT technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M. Adding Geolocation to this introduces a whole range of new applications not possible before. Some of these applications are:
  1. Asset Management
  2. Fleet Management
  3. Anti-theft scooter/bike rental
  4. Logistics/parcel bags tracking
  5. Worker safety for Oil and Gas
  6. Elderly and Disabled care
  7. Tracking solution for skiers
  8. Pets and Animal tracking

The above applications represent large existing market which can be only be enabled with extremely low cost and low power trackers. This is the reason why LPWAN-enabled geolocation is in fact a separate product category for large existing market.

The challenges involved (Asset tracking as an example case study)

Railway cars, truck trailers, containers: tracking valuable assets on the move is a pain point for most large distributed organizations involved in logistics and supply chain, typically relying on partners such as distributors to correctly register check-in and check-out events. This registration process at specific checkpoints is usually manual, intermittent and subject to human errors.  To tackle this issue, an IoT low power asset tracking system using LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) trackers brings a “timeless” checkpoint solution. Specifically, LoRaWAN™-based trackers, because of their low power, low cost and lightweight infrastructure, provide a first truly reliable tracking solution allowing to reduce downtime during transportation. 

In the logistics sector, many business cases involve additional costs due to inefficient utilization of assets. Transport companies need to invest in freight railway cars, car logistics companies need to invest in truck trailers, and of course there are the standard containers and pallets.

“The profitability of these business cases directly depends on the minimization of asset downtime: every day or hour lost in a warehouse, parking or rail station reduces the number of times the moving asset will generate profit in a year.”

However, measuring this downtime is also a challenge. Traditional solutions involved cellular or satellite trackers, which require significant CAPEX, but perhaps more importantly also ongoing OPEX due to battery replacements and connectivity costs. In some cases, trackers are located in hard to reach areas especially when mounted on railroad cars, or in oil and gas rigs, which makes it very costly to replace batteries especially if there are several hundreds of thousands of trackers deployed in the field. The battery replacement is done by humans and is one of the dominating OPEX factors in overall Total Cost of Ownership ( TCO) of the whole solution. These replacement costs actually made it difficult to justify the mass adoption of conventional geolocation solutions in the logistics sector.

LPWAN trackers: a game changer

LoRaWAN  is LPWAN connectivity standard developed by LoRa Alliance primarily for unlicensed ISM spectrum, to create disruption in both the technology and business models. On the technology front, the main impact is on drastic reduction of power consumption, which reduces battery usage and ultimately also OPEX related to ongoing maintenance. It also creates new opportunities for more dynamic tracking, as communication events are less costly. On the business model side, logistics companies can now trade off between CAPEX and OPEX: most LPWAN systems operate on an unlicensed band, for example the leading LoRaWAN™  technology operates in the 915MHz band in the US, the 868MHz band in Europe and equivalent ISM bands in other parts of the world. This means that logistics companies can invest in their own wireless networks to reduce or eliminate variable connectivity costs.

“The cost of LPWAN radio network gateways has decreased due to higher production volumes and are now affordable even to very small logistic centers, such as a car distributor. “

 Next generation LPWAN trackers

The potential of LPWAN-enabled tracking requires a new generation of hardware. The lower radio frequency power consumption is only a part of a massive effort to decrease overall power consumption of the whole system. This requires developing a multi-technology geolocation tracker platform that can combine GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi Sniffing, WiFi fingerprinting and Bluetooth with the goal of reducing power consumption and provide location information opportunistically in variety of scenarios such as (indoor/outdoor, urban/rural, slow/fast moving and so on). 

Another key factor is the usage of LPWAN technologies such as (LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for transporting geolocation data back to the cloud. This is the key as traditional cellular technologies such as 2G/3G/4G are just too power hungry to meet the target goal of 5-10 year battery lifetime. However, there will be licensed Cellular IoT options based on NB-IoT/LTE-M that will be also be used for some of the applications.

IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

LoRaWAN and Low Power GPS significantly increases battery lifetime

IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

Merging an IoT network solution such as LoRaWAN with  multi-mode geolocation technologies for outdoor and indoor positioning increase by at least a factor of 10 the battery lifetime compared to the standard cellular solution using GSM/AGPS. Source: Actility

The Road Ahead:

The next frontier in IoT geolocation will be two fold. The first will be the multi-technology cloud platform that will combine intelligently Over-The-Top (OTT) geolocation technologies such as GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth with network based TDoA geolocation technologies using LoRaWAN and/or Cellular. This requires close cooperation between public network operators with geolocation service providers.

The future of IoT geolocation is multi-technology

In order to shed some light on the above mentioned points, we are hosting a webinar that explains where  we will explore the challenges of network-based geolocation and how it can be combined with other geolocation technologies such as GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. We will explain how multi-technology geolocation differs from traditional cellular+GPS based geolocation, and show how it opens up an entirely new market and product category. We’ll also explore how multi-technology geolocation meets the requirements and use cases for connecting small sensors which are low-cost with very long battery lifetime. A guest speaker from KPN will share selected case studies demonstrating IoT geolocation deployments and discuss real-world experience. The webinar will conclude with outlook for technological evolution in the field, and give an overview of our Location portfolio.

What will you learn from this webinar?
  1. What are the market opportunities and use cases enabled by IoT Geolocation?
  2. What are the benefits of multi-technology geolocation?
  3. What are the benefits of using LPWAN technologies(LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for connectivity?
  4. How LPWAN-enabled Geolocation will evolve in the future?
  5. How is Actility building multi-technology geolocation platform?

Follow the link below for registration to the webinar,

For any questions, contact the author below,

Monday, 24 September 2018

5G New Radio Standards and other Presentations

A recent Cambridge Wireless event 'Radio technology for 5G – making it work' was an excellent event where all speakers delivered an interesting and insightful presentation. These presentations are all available to view and download for everyone for a limited time here.

I blogged about the base station antennas last week but there are other couple of presentations that stood out for me.

The first was an excellent presentation from Sylvia Lu from u-Blox, also my fellow CW Board Member. Her talk covered variety of topics including IoT, IIoT, LTE-V2X and Cellular positioning, including 5G NR Positioning Trend. The presentation is embedded below and available to download from Slideshare

The other presentation on 5G NR was one from Yinan Qi of Samsung R&D. His presentation looked at variety of topics, mainly Layer 1 including Massive MIMO, Beamforming, Beam Management, Bandwidth Part, Reference Signals, Phase noise, etc. His presentation is embedded below and can be downloaded from SlideShare.

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