GSMA unveils low power wide area network IoT initiative

Mobile operators, OEMs and IoT companies combine to accelerate development of LPWA market with commercial solutions expected in 2016

GSMA unveils low power wide area network IoT initiative

The GSMA has established a new project designed to address the use of low power wide area (LPWA) M2M solutions in licensed spectrum. The ‘Mobile IoT Initiative’ is backed by 26 leading mobile operators, OEMs, chipset, module and infrastructure companies.

The new group will work to accelerate the commercial availability of mobile IoT technology by facilitating demonstrations, proofs of concept and trials of a selection of complementary LPWA licensed spectrum technologies. It will also provide analysis and feedback to assist 3GPP in standardising the technologies.

It is expected that initial specifications for LPWA solutions will be completed by the end of 2015, with a first implementation in early 2016 and full commercial solutions following later in the year.

LPWA networks are designed for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications that have low data rates, long battery lives and that operate unattended for long periods of time. It is an emerging area of the Internet of Things (IoT) and represents a huge market opportunity as the IoT scales. Analyst firms including Analysys Mason, Machina Research and Strategy Analytics anticipate that there will be 2.7 billion LPWA connections by 2022.

“The market opportunity for LPWA will be a significant driver in the development of the IoT and it’s essential that the mobile industry address the requirements for LPWA cases early on,” said Alex Sinclair, acting director general and chief technology officer, GSMA.

“The industry is clearly united behind the Mobile IoT Initiative, providing a common vision to accelerate the availability of industry standard solutions, removing market fragmentation and accelerating adoption.”

The GSMA said it does not believe a single technology is capable of addressing all of the LPWA use cases and so the initiative will focus on three proposed complementary licensed 3GPP standards: LTE evolutions, GSM evolutions and clean slate technologies.

The GSMA argues that LPWA technologies in licensed spectrum can be deployed in a simplified and cost-effective manner, without sacrificing key customer requirements, such as battery lifetime and security.

It noted that mobile operators already provide reliable end-to-end IoT platforms that allow customers to scale and manage their business requirements. They also have unrivalled global network coverage as well as technical and business support to react to a customer’s changing needs.

The initiative has been backed by key industry players including AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Canada, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Etisalat, Huawei, Gemalto, Intel, KDDI, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Ooredoo, Orange,
Qualcomm Incorporated, Sierra Wireless, Singtel, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, Telstra, u-blox and Vodafone.

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