LTE-based Internet-of-Things Infrastructure Gains Momentum

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Good indoor wireless communications coverage plays an important role in supporting cellular internet-of-things (IoT) operations. IoT services have many communications standards to choose from. They also have three ways to deliver coverage indoors.

A variety of approaches have been promoted and trialed for wide-area wireless for the internet of things (IoT) – the term that has emerged to refer to the network of devices that keeps a smart home running, a business campus interconnected or a disabled vehicle in communication with its road service provider. Among the contenders for hegemony in this fast-growing domain are the Dash7 Alliance protocol, Sigfox network technology, Weightless connectivity technology, LoRa (long-range) spread-spectrum technology, RPMA (random-phase multiple-access) spreadspectrum technology and even 2G digital cellular technology, to name only some. Each comes with self-proclaimed strengths and weaknesses. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the standards body that delivered Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless communications , has included two variants of LTE in its Release 13 for use in the IoT context: Cat M1 (Category M1 – the “M” originally stood for “metering” and referred to smart metering using IoT) and NB-IoT (narrowband IoT). It is likely that multiple standards will be used because there is a wide variety of use cases (ways to use a system to accomplish a particular goal). Devices that support the LTE Cat-M1 standards for IoT have just started shipping over the last several months, and they benefit from having the broad support of the existing cellular network providers that have deployed LTE, or plan to.

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