Most M2M applications today do not need the higher bandwidth of LTE and 3G as data rate of a few hundreds kbps could meet their needs. The LTE-M extension aims to fulfill the specific energy, spectrum, cost, efficiency constraints of M2M communications, whilst not hindering current LTE devices to operate normally on the LTE network.
LTE-M is expected to be released by 2017 achieving the following
- low power consumption and autonomy (i.e. up to five years for a device running on AA batteries),
- easy deployment
- low overall cost,
- excellent coverage.
LTE-M is likely to evolve further with discussion on including local mesh networking, very low cost modules (under $5), very long battery life ( even up to 10 years due to long sleep cycles) and low data rates with two-way (including full-duplex) communication.
LTE-M should co-exist with other proprietary networks supporting backwards compatibility to the previous LTE standards in the same spectrum. Today, for example the LTE EPC will require scaling and densification to support a huge number of additional LTE-M devices similar to the requirement of an increased subscriber number as LTE rollout progresses.
Thus, two different worlds need to coexist and share the same resources: first, the LTE core network with LTE users directly connected to the base station (eNodeB) through a LTE interface; second, the capillary (and heterogeneous) network with LTE-M or non LTE-M devices connected to a M2M Gateway via any air interface (LTE-M or not), while the M2M Gateway is interconnected to the LTE base station via a LTE-M interface. It might be also possible for LTE-M standalone devices (i.e., LTE-M devices which do not belong to any capillary network) to directly access the base station via a LTE-M connection. Some main features and research has been conducted in the EXALTED (EXpAnding LTE for Devices), an Integrating Project (IP) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by 2013.
During the EMEA Analysts Forum at Ericsson HQ (past week), I had the chance to attend a WiFi Call demo that really impressed me. Everybody loves WiFi today, but what is actually WiFi Call and why is that so important now for mobile subscribers and operators?
It actually bridges the gap and long lasting complaint of the lack of coverage in very dense areas and mainly at home where poor signal ends to voice interruptions. But what is new and how does it work?
Ericsson and other vendors have been pushing this service to mobile device manufactures during the past years, Apple (iPhone6), Samsung (Galaxy S4 and S5) and others to include that function in the phone. So, today the subscriber can use his “WiFi Call” ready smartphone to call over his residential WiFi (no matter the ISP) and via a seamless handover to cellular network (i.e LTE) can complete his phone call. This new service provides a seamless handoff for calls between cellular network and Wi-Fi. Same charges will apply as a regular cellular phone call but in that way the operator offers another alternative to successful phone calls in real dense areas. At his point mobile operators offer this new service as a value added service in existing programs with no additional charges and most likely that will remain the same.
During the 16th Infocom-World in October in Athens, we had the chance to interview Mr Koulouris, the Head of Sales at Ericsson Greece on mobility trends.
Regarding the 5G evolution drivers, he pointed out that the leading market will depend on:
- Data Growth
- Users maturity
- Regulatory model
- Service Cost model
Also Mr Koulouris raised the need for mobile operators consolidation in Europe, similarly to China where only 4 or 5 operators really exist. The environment is getting more complicated in Europe, where 28 regulators are trying to develop a common framework. There is no doubt that global players could simplify that environment, and that consolidation should be part of the EU digital agenda in the near future.
Now that the excitement of Layer123 Microwave’s Event has sunken in, it’s time to look back and review the event’s highlights. All the leading vendors, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, NEC were there, exhibiting and engaging, but also many operators showed interest mainly to listen and learn from the opinion leaders. Main topics discussed were about the existing microwave thrasnformation through network transformation, SDN, network virtualization, SON and future of small cells. Solutions and cases were presented around those topics.
A very successful event counting over 200 delegates, and very well organized for a second year in the city of Düsseldorf. The Layer123 microwave community is growing, becoming very solid and ready to look into the future microwave technologies’ transformation towards 2020. Everybody agreed that capacity, cost, QoS and other similar business requirements could drive innovation developing new concepts such as 5G and SDN.
But what’s new for microwave and backhaul in 2014?
More virtualization, innovation, transformation and automation in a combination with higher capacity and lower jitter could be roughly the answer.