As the IoT (Internet of Things) begins to become more than just a tech fantasy, the prospect of M2M-specific networks is also gaining currency. Despite the ubiquity of cellular networks, there are distinct advantages of low power networks installed specifically for M2M. Not least, they hold the promise of an extremely long battery life, are exempt from licencing fees and can reach areas other networks may not be able to reach.
According to companies like Neul, based in Cambridge, the so-called digital dividend- which is the spectrum released from digitising the TV networks, will release “white space” spectrum which can be redeployed for M2M. Neul notes that low power networks have a distinct advantage over existing network types.
As I stated a year or so ago, by sacrificing the immediacy of communication of today’s voice and data networks, which use power to “ping” the network every few seconds, battery life can be massively improved – making the network ideal for the next few billion “subscribers”, that is, machines and objects.
In this way a single AA battery can last for as long as ten years. Because the devices only “talk” to the network maybe once a day, they can remain active for years, decades even. There are other advantages – the cost of network build out is extremely low – a fraction of the usual $100,000 plus per base station. And the licence costs are zero.
As usual standards are important, Neul is working on a standardised approach whereby operators are able to incorporate low power technology into their service offerings. The applications are endless but fire alarms and metering for gas water and electricity alone could constitute a viable “market” – and together that comprises one of the most significant M2M verticals, alongside telematics of course – another addressable area according to Neul.