Cellular IoT networks could be the answer to speed up smart deployments by taking advantage of existing infrastructure.
With this in mind, Ericsson and Orange have joined forces to improve indoor coverage, reduce IoT device cost and extend battery life though the use of GSM and LTE.
Cellular network and device capability enhancements are being driven through the standardisation process at 3GPP to meet emerging requirements of ubiquitous coverage, long battery life and low-cost devices, enabled through software upgrades of existing networks.
As Ericsson predicts 28 billion connected devices by 2021, the companies claim they will be conducting the world-first EC-GSM (Extended Coverage) trial in France using the 900 MHz band.
They aim to enhance device reachability by up to 20dB or a seven-fold improvement in the range of low-rate applications.
GSM coverage in Europe and Africa is expected to benefit from this and coverage is also expected to be improved in remote areas – like agriculture fields – and indoor basements – where many smart meters reside.
The firms have also entered a parallel venture with Sequans to carry out the world’s first LTE IoT trial using low-cost, low-complexity devices with one receive antenna (instead of two), and half-duplex FDD.
Sequans Communications is a chipset manufacturer that develops MTC LTE devices able to fit with connected form factors.
This will simplify the device hardware architecture and reduces expensive duplex filters, allowing for 60% cost reduction in comparison with existing LTE Cat 4, according to Ericsson.
In partnership with Sequans, Ericsson will also demonstrate energy efficiency over GSM and LTE networks with Power Saving Mode (PSM) technology.
The PSM feature is applicable to both GSM and LTE, and supported by Evolved Packet Core (EPC). It enables extended battery life of communication modules such as sensors by up to ten years thanks to optimised, power-efficient operations.
The trial with Ericsson is part of Orange’s IoT targets which aim to get the company to 600 million Euros in revenue by 2018 in IoT and an IoT presence across the whole value chain.