As the Internet of Things (IoT) has grown more complex from its early iterations as Machine to Machine (M2M), so have connectivity technologies. Each option promises to align seamlessly with diverse use cases, yet choosing the perfect fit amid this abundance can be challenging.
With the turndown of 2G and 3G networks, more spectrum is available to broaden 4G LTE and globally roll out 5G. Right now, as Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) invest in the infrastructure to build out 5G Standalone (SA), the rollouts of 5G are Non-Standalone (NSA), which stem from the same infrastructure used for 4G LTE. While 5G NSA offers greater speeds, it is not until the rollout of 5G SA that the true capabilities – throughput, latency, speed, and network slicing – can be captured. Not far off the horizon, 5G Standalone (SA) awaits, promising unparalleled capabilities that will reshape our digital interactions.
When the 3GPP standardized the fifth generation of cellular connectivity, the network technology was segmented in thirds – eMBB, URLLC, and low power wide area (LPWA). Within LPWA, Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Long Term Evolution for Machine Type Communications (LTE-M) reign supreme. These networks embody a paradigm where low power meets vast coverage, empowering devices with extended battery life and far-reaching connectivity. Imagine devices operating flawlessly within a 500-meter radius from the gateway, opening the door to a realm of possibilities previously deemed unattainable.
Additional benefits of LPWA, according to GSMA, are low device unit cost, improved outdoor and indoor penetration coverage compared with existing wide-area technologies, secure connectivity and authentication, optimized data transfer, simplified network deployment, and network scalability.
The nature of LPWA networks has created a subset of IoT, enter Massive IoT. Here, the LoRa Alliance's LoRaWAN specification takes center stage; widely used in Brazil, this specification is now deploying globally. Secure bi-directional communication, mobility, and localization services converge, creating an ecosystem where innovation knows no bounds.
Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity is becoming more widely available and affordable. Inside metro areas, connectivity has been well supported, but expanding into rural areas meant chasing satellite connectivity that struggled in reliability and affordability. Much of that has changed and continues to develop with the addition of LEO satellites used for rural areas or in mobile applications, such as remote monitoring of assets, over-the-road fleet management with dual-mode alongside cellular connectivity, and offroad industrial equipment.
Other use cases include IoT agriculture, marine telematics, mining, offshore oil rigs, and construction, particularly asset monitoring both from a location and a machine health aspect. As with any network connectivity decision, it is important to understand your application's data, latency, throughput requirements, deployment areas, and system infrastructure. While the price of satellite connectivity has been vastly driven down over the last decade, two areas should be considered when checking providers: data restrictions and latency. Satellite has greatly improved, especially with the addition of LEO satellites – with an estimated 5,000 in orbit as of late 2022.
KORE expert Jeff Noska will share his insights on developing and emerging connectivity technologies during the presentation “Convergence: 5G, Satellite, Low-Power” at IMC’s IoT Days Fall virtual conference on October 11 at 11:30 a.m. ET. Register now!
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