Alright so we’re a couple of weeks into 2016 so I think I’m still within the prediction grace period? If you haven’t already you can read my review of 2015 on our blog and see how my predictions from 2015 stacked up.
Last year I was fairly bullish on specific change, and that didn’t really pan out for me… This year I’m going with slightly broader strokes.
So here are my predictions for things we can expect to see in M2M/IoT in 2016, have at it:
A battle for the ages… – EDGE © WWE
- Edge Computing vs Cloud – You may have heard the term Edge Computing start to be thrown around last year, you might have even heard someone use the term FOG computing (and if you were anything like me your head immediately hit the desk). Edge computing is the concept of putting the intelligence, processing and decision making power into the device sitting at the edge of the network.
Typically, modems/remote devices can be seen as ‘dumb’, they simply collate data from various sensors and send it back to a central server or more recently to a cloud environment for processing and decision making.
Edge computing wants to change this by empowering the device to make decisions as soon as the data is received.
Reducing the latency and ‘time to act’ significantly benefits autonomous or critical applications like the increasing swarms of drones and unmanned safety units being developed for agriculture and emergency applications like forest fires.
The other benefit to processing on the edge is that it theoretically reduces the amount of data sent back over a wireless network, a device might alert someone that it is taking an action or has completed an action rather than sending a request to act, waiting for a response, then acting.
The debate is still in its early days with proponents on both sides arguing the benefits and drawbacks, but I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more coverage of edge computing in 2016.
Some of the major LPWAN players you’ll see in 2016
- LPWAN on the rise – 2015 saw Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) firmly insert themselves into the IoT networking conversation. Last year France’s SIGFOX secured over $100 million in funding and announced expansion plans in the USA & Australia arguably putting themselves at the forefront of the LPWAN movement, but the LoRA Alliance & Weightless SIG are also poised to make a disruptive splash in Low Power Communications.
Australia has it’s very own Sigfox deployer Thinxtra who will be rolling out pilot sites soon. Telstra are also looking at LPWAN with a pilot in Melbourne CBD and we expect a number of LoRA alliance deployers to be hot on their heels.
Expect more conversation and visibility of LPWAN networks in 2016 but there is still a fair amount of consolidation & brand building to be done before we reach peak LPWAN penetration.
Where do we go from here? – Parks & Recreation © NBC Universal
- Cellular Flux – Expect the 2G/3G/4G debate to continue to rage on in 2016 with AT&T and Telstra both poised to hit the button at the end of the year with Optus and all of Singapore’s cellular providers aiming to do the same in early 2017.
In the operator space I can see a few scenarios happening:
- More networks announce their 2G shutdown dates – As alternative technologies become more affordable and solution providers in some parts of the world are inevitably forced to make the change, I can see more operators feeling comfortable with pulling their 2G networks.
- LTE leapfrogging – With a strong established base of 2G hardware in Europe I can see some operators taking the Telenor approach and shutting down 3G prior to 2G in a long term effort to consolidate everything under LTE (Read about Telenor’s 3G 2020 shutdown here) It’s a smart approach as it buys more time for operators who are still rolling out LTE base stations and fine tuning coverage and it allows their customers to continue planning and designing boards without being forced into a 3G device that may not last as long as they hope.
- Opportunistic 2G grabs – We’ve already seen M2M/IoT MVNOs making any deal they can to squeeze more life out of 2G in the USA with Vodafone still not announcing in Australia I’m wondering if we won’t see the same here. There is even talk of some independent operators/MVNOs buying old hardware and spectrum to keep 2G alive for M2M. It’s a short term gain for a decent outlay but with Asia and Europe still churning out cheap 2G hardware it may pay off.
In the hardware space 2016 there is still some juggling of frequency bands to get the right products for multiple markets together. Most customers we work with are waiting patiently for hardware compatible with Band 28 (700Mhz) which will offer the greatest LTE coverage on Telstra’s 4GX network the successor to their Next-G 3G offering.
With Telstra’s 2G shutdown looming we’ve already seen customers in Australia testing heavily with LTE in the hopes of getting everything ready to bypass 3G entirely.
Irdium NEXT coming to an orbit near you in 2016…
- Satellite – 2015 was a relatively quiet year for M2M/IoT over satellite, expect this to change in 2016.
Iridium will be launching their first run of satellites for their Iridium Next constellation partnering with US space exploration heartthrobs SpaceX and Russian organization Kosmotras. With SpaceX delivering a very successful launch for Orbcomm last year, Matt Desch and the Iridium team should be feeling positive. While Next isn’t scheduled to be fully operational until 2017 the increased noise and conversation around Iridium is sure to spark renewed interest in M2M/IoT applications using satellite, especially those with global implications.
As cellular operators continue to struggle with global roaming arrangements, pricing and interconnects we are seeing lots of customers with low bandwidth global solutions opt for the satellite route. With services like Iridium’s SBD and Inmarsat/Skywave’s IDP, companies who want a solution that will work out of the box anywhere in the world without having to deal with roaming contracts, excess usage and coverage issues are finding more and more uses for satellite as the cost for hardware and airtime comes down.
Face meet palm – Star Trek Next Generation © CBS
- Terminology – With several major organizations already making steps to remove M2M from their corporate lexicon and replace it with IoT could we have finally settled on a term for this nebulous new technology?
The writing has been on the wall for M2M for some time now, the term is already seen by most as an “insider term” only really used by those in the industry and not something that needs to be on customer facing marketing. To the customer this connected world and everything in it is IoT. Sure some of the major players will still try and make my palm connect with my forehead by rolling out IoE, IoYT & IIoT but now we’re starting to see job titles incorporating IoT, I think we are fairly safe to say we’ve decided on a term.
Maybe I should be filing this one under hope rather than prediction, but could 2016 finally be the year we stop with all the pointless acronyms and corporate marketing terms and just call things what they are?
In the solutions space I’ve already started to see a move away from using “smart”, “e-“ & the dreaded “i” prefixes for products. Does anyone really use the term smart-phone anymore? It’s just a phone, they’re all smart by definition now. Likewise we’ll start to see IoT products go from being Smart Thermostats, to just being thermostats as the technology becomes commonplace.
And there you have it – My 5 predictions for M2M/IoT in 2016! Do you think these are more likely than my 2015 predictions? I’d love to hear what you think, Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.
General Manager – M2M One
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.
This week we’re doing something a little different – We wanted to reach out to other businesses in the M2M/IoT ecosystem and get their opinions and tips on the industry. The first cab off the rank is M2M Connectivity, a specialist M2M hardware provider offering a range of products designed to help people build their ideal M2M product. With all the talk of 2G shutting down (read our blog) and companies deciding to make the jump to 3G or LTE we wanted to get some technical perspectives on LTE and the different flavors available.
Over to M2M Connectivity for their post: LTE Enhancements for M2M and IoT
The benefits of a M2M / IoT future places new requirements on connectivity with the evolution of LTE a key component. LTE is becoming more viable for M2M / IoT applications by offering spectral efficiency, longevity, and scalability. LTE MTC (Machine Type Communications) will specifically address dramatic increases expected in the number of devices that will be deployed for M2M communications. The development and introduction of LTE MTC chipsets and modules is seen as a significant step for the cellular M2M market with solutions meeting the key requirements of low pricing, low power consumption, and network longevity.
Many anticipate that 4G LTE MTC will be the smoothest path to adoption as cellular operators shut down 2G networks to re-farm spectrum for more efficient 4G/LTE services. AT&T in the U.S. plans closure of their 2G network by January 1st 2017. All of Singapore’s 2G networks will shut down with M1, Starhub and Singtel announcing a joint shutdown on April 1st 2017. In Australia, Telstra’s 2G will be shut down on December 1st 2016 with Optus to following suit with their 2G network closure on 1st April 2017. Businesses with devices on 2G services have had early and continuing encouragement to migrate from 2G to 3G/4G technologies.
Cellular specialists, however, face competition from dedicated M2M/IoT networks such as SigFox and Semtech’s LoRa technologies that offer low power, low cost alternatives. SigFox, espousing a protocol designed specifically for the IoT, rather than one tweaked to address it, plans global expansion that include networks in Australia. Other technologies are competing in the M2M / IoT space and are gathering multivendor support. LoRaWAN backed by the LoRa Alliance, boasting 130 members has announced a certification program. While LoRa technologies have yet to be widely deployed in Australia, LoRaWAN networks are planned and trials are being conducted.
Global support over existing LTE cellular networks is a big advantage of LTE over alternative networks. LTE will expand into new usage scenarios by providing improved support for low-cost and energy-efficient MTC devices through reduced RF bandwidth. Applications envisioned for LTE MTC include metering, environmental & industrial monitoring, object location tracking, e-health, wearables and sensors. Lower latency will also enable support for new applications that include traffic safety/control and control of critical infrastructure and industry processes.
LTE current, and upcoming, standards for M2M/IoT include:
- LTE Cat-1: Provides downlink data rate sufficient for most M2M applications. Enablement of single antenna implementation minimizes changes to current 2G/3G equipment designs. Most US mobile operators have committed/enabled Cat-1 on networks with a range of Cat-1 modules to be available from late 2015 through 2016 from various device manufacturers.
- LTE Cat-0: Provides same single antenna cost optimisation as Cat-1 but with enhanced power saving mode (PSM) for extended battery life. Modules for Cat-0 may be available depending on operator support.
- LTE Cat-M: Standard to be ratified with 3GPP in March 2016. Anticipated enhancements to Cat-1 include modem simplification, reduced bandwidth to 1.4MHz, range of power saving options for ultra-long battery life and extended coverage for remote/harsh environments.
- Narrow-Band Long-Term Evolution (NB-LTE): This new specification is set to rival other narrowband LTE specifications for 3GPP’s consideration of choice of standards for 4G M2M / IoT communications. NB-LTE proponents argue that without the need for expensive network infrastructure and chipset investments, NB-LTE by leveraging existing LTE network technology enables fast adoption and economies of scale maximization.
Currently, LTE devices have full bandwidth of up to 20MHz typically supporting multiple bandwidths depending on the carrier frequency. Although this provides deployment flexibility and allows devices to exploit the full performance of the bandwidth used, a single small bandwidth on the radio side such as 1.4MHz allows for simpler radio implementation and lower device cost.
Release 13, supporting the coexistence of 1.4MHz narrow-band devices with current LTE devices on a single, wider-band carrier, will further reduce costs by offering low-cost MTC devices that operate using half-duplex and a single antenna, and will limit the data rate to 1Mbps without negatively impacting the performance of existing fully flexible LTE devices.
Exploiting unlicensed spectrum and complemented by multi-antenna enhancements, LTE Release 13 enhancements will improve overall capacity, user data rates and latency in combination with higher-layer protocols such as TCP. In Australia, LTE MTC on networks and device availability is still to be finalized. With wide availability of LTE MTC on the horizon, LTE is set to play a key connectivity role in the various applications that make up M2M / IoT solutions.
For more information on 4G/LTE hardware you can visit M2M Connectivity’s Website at http://m2mconnectivity.com.au/ or visit their LTE technology page at http://m2mconnectivity.com.au/technologies/lte
The current state of 2G/GSM Networks As many of you are probably aware, Cellular network operators around the world are planning to shut down their 2G networks to re-farm spectrum for more efficient 4G/LTE services. In the USA, AT&T plans to shut their 2G Network by January 1st 2017. Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to have all 2G networks shut down at once with M1, Starhub & Singtel announcing a joint shut down on April 1st, 2017. Here in Australia, Telstra’s 2G will be shut down on December 1st 2016, with Optus to following suit with their 2G network closure on 1st April 2017 and finally Vodafone Australia closing the remaining 2G network on 30th of September 2017 (Click here for more) Research firm Berg Insight theorize that globally 3G & 4G/LTE technologies will dominate cellular M2M communications by 2018. Pointing to the declining use of 2G by M2M developers in favor of 3G and 4G/LTE technologies, citing the greater reliability, coverage and speeds as the major drawing factor. LTE in particular delivers peak speeds of up to 100 Mbps allowing for faster transfers and better handling of more data intensive applications like video cameras or digital displays. The majority of mobile networks that are shutting down 2G have plans to re-farm spectrum for additional 4G/LTE network capacity. The business driver behind this decision is that it consolidates and makes more efficient use of their networks resulting in lower operating costs, fewer networks to support, and frees up spectrum for faster more lucrative services. So why is 2G so popular with M2M/IoT? The closure of 2G networks has the largest impact in the M2M space with an estimated 70% of M2M devices worldwide still utilizing 2G technologies. The major factor behind the prevalence of 2G devices in the M2M/IoT space is a simple one, cost. Not as simple are the factors that make up the costs behind an M2M device: Hardware Cost – The fact that 2G modems are less expensive than 3G modems should come as no surprise, it’s not very often that an older technology commands higher prices than it’s successor. The problem in the hardware space has compounded by the ‘Qualcomm tax’, due to the high volume of patents related to 3G owned by Qualcomm the price for 3G modules and modems has remained relatively static, and only recently as companies have got more economical with other elements and 4G/LTE development is ramping up, has the cost started to come down closer to 2G pricing. This has meant that a lot of businesses that probably should have been developing with 3G technology 2 or 3 years ago have put it off to avoid raising prices. The problem now is that businesses have a much shorter development time frame due to the impending 2G shut down. Lifecycle – M2M data needs are typically light compared to consumer applications that require the faster speeds and bandwidth of 3G and 4G/LTE so the lifecycle of a field device can be anywhere from 3-10 years compared to an average phone or tablet, which is replaced nearly yearly by most consumers. Upgrade costs – The nature of most M2M devices is that they are deployed in either very remote areas and connected to mobile assets, in countries with large remote areas like Australia the cost of sending a person out to upgrade or change a device can be in the thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. Customer Perception – With customers conditioned to think that prices should come down over time, businesses working on a very thin margin have found themselves in a precarious position as the cost of deploying 3G increases their costs, but their customer base is unwilling to pay for what they feel is an ‘unnecessary’ upgrade. This has meant several businesses have decided to keep 2G technologies in place longer than their initial roadmap might have dictated. So where do we go from here? There is no doubt about it, with development times in M2M/IoT ranging from 6-18 months for new solutions. M2M system vendors in Australia need to make a decision now on the next iteration of their solution. While some companies are choosing the ‘mystery box’ and gambling on Vodafone Australia maintaining it’s 2G network, the majority of companies we work with across M2M One are looking at 3G & 4G/LTE upgrade paths. What are your upgrade options? Build vs. Buy – The first question you really need to ask yourself is whether you need to build a new product from scratch or if a solution already exists that can save you development time and cost. The problem with upgrading a 2G solution from a module level is that most 2G modules have a completely different form factor, where most major modules suppliers now keep a common form factor for 3G & 4G/LTE – This often leads to a complete redesign of your base board, which adds time and money to the upgrade. A lot of businesses that were early adopters of M2M/IoT from the 2G or even Circuit Switch Data (CSD) days had to develop their own solution, as nothing was available. Now we live in a time where M2M hardware has a level of standardization in terms of inputs and functionality meaning it may be cheaper and easier for businesses to go from building a solution from a board level upwards to perhaps buying an off the shelf finished modem or even a complete product and white labeling (this is becoming increasingly popular in the competitive vehicle tracking and telematics space). 2G to 3G – The most immediate fix for the majority of businesses is to make the jump from 2G to 3G. The good news is that the cost of developing a 3G M2M device has reduced considerably making the process slightly less painful. With quad and penta-band 3G modules on the market now, you can build a device that can be shipped anywhere in the world without having to worry about your base module. The major consideration here is the rapid growth of 4G/LTE, with coverage set to match and surpass 3G in the coming year a lot of people are questioning the long-term future of 3G, while none of the carriers are making any statements regarding this. We have been advising customers that if they plan to have a device in the field for 10 years or more they should be using 4G/LTE to be safe. 2G to 4G/LTE – As coverage grows the idea of leapfrogging 3G altogether and going with a pure 4G/LTE solution or a solution that is 4G/LTE with 3G fallback is looking like the most sensible path for a majority of solution providers. While a lot of M2M devices don’t need the added speed that comes with 4G/LTE the greater coverage, capacity and reliability of service is a huge draw. Several module manufactures and networks are discussing M2M specific operations on LTE Cat-0, a lower bandwidth M2M specific subset of LTE which will reduce both module and data costs. This isn’t to say 4G/LTE doesn’t bring it’s own difficulties along with it. While LTE modules are expected to drop in price much quicker than their 3G counterparts, they are still reasonably expensive compared to 2G. Another headache is the number of LTE bands currently being used; there are currently 32 LTE bands in use with 44 including LTE-TDD. There are currently no easily accessible modules on the market that will cover all LTE bands, which means deploying a global single SKU M2M device is currently impossible on LTE. Several countries have common bands making regional applications possible, but for a true global option your choices are limited. Where do I get started? The best place to get started is to speak to your supplier about upgrade paths, every module and modem supplier in Australia will be able to give you a number of options for upgrading your existing product and you might be pleasantly surprised by the ease and cost of some of these. If you don’t have contact with a supplier, most mobile network operators will be able to supply you with a list of approved hardware and integrators that can assist. Some may even assist with discounts, subsidies or consolidation of services as they want to minimize the number of 2G connections come shut down time. Of course M2M One are always here to help, we have connections to most of Australia’s leading M2M/IoT hardware providers and our team of M2M network experts can assist with helping you create an upgrade path that works for your business.
Did you find this information useful? Do you have some questions on the Australian Machine-to-Machine and Internet of Things market we can answer for you? Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.
General Manager – M2M One
The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.
This month we continue with the second of our blog series of M2M tips. This installment will help businesses looking to enter the local M2M and IoT industry understand the market in Australia. Want better control of your M2M One SIMs? We bring your attention to alerts that can be set up for real-time information and diagnostics. M2M One will be sponsoring Yow! Connected, an event dedicated to IoT for developers. This IoT conference is held in September and we will be conducting demonstrations by M2M Connectivity, Digi and others. See more details about this event below, we hope to see you there.
This months newsletter features:
- Notification – M2M One Control Centre Alerts
- Notification – Optus 2G 900MHz Shutdown
- Blog – M2M Tips – Depoloying Cellular M2M or IoT Devices in Australia
- IoT Conference – Yow! Connected
- Reminder – Telstra 2G (GSM) 900MHz Shutdown
1. Notification – M2M One Control Centre Alerts
The M2M One Control Centre keeps you in control of your M2M services and offers real time usage information, SIM status reports, diagnostic tools and much more.
This month we wanted to highlight a feature set that you may not be aware of: Alerts
M2M One has the ability to set up the following alerts to keep you up to date on your usage and SIM status for the month – If you would like to set up any of the Alerts outlined below on your account please email firstname.lastname@example.org :
- SIM State Change (Activation, deactivation, etc)
- SMS Usage in a month or 24 hour period
- Data usage in a month or 24 hour period
- Voice usage in a month or 24 hours period
- IMEI change
- Session Start
- Session End
- No connection in the past XX hours
If you have any questions regarding setting up alerts on the M2M Control Centre, or anything else please don’t hesitate to contact our support team on +61 3 9696 3011 or at email@example.com
2. Notification – Optus 2G 900MHz Shutdown
In a recent announcement Optus have confirmed that they will be following Telstra in shutting down their 2G/GSM (900MHz) network on April 1st 2017.
While this does not affect M2M One customers as we exclusively utilize the Telstra M2M network it is important to understand that this reflects a continuing trend of 2G networks being shut down and re-farmed for additional 4G/LTE network capacity with AT&T in the US, Telstra & Optus in Australia and Singtel in Singapore.
We strongly advocate companies building or deploying 2G devices in the Australian market to look at options for 3G or 4G/LTE as soon as possible to make sure you have solutions tested and ready to deploy well before the networks get shut down.
If you have any questions on 2G Migration or around M2M network services on 3G or 4G/LTE please contact M2M One on +61 3 9696 3011 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will point you in the right direction.
3. Blog – M2M Tips – Deploying Cellular M2M or IoT Devices in Australia
Continuing the series of tips to developers looking to get into the M2M/IoT space, this second installment offers an overview of the local marketplace to businesses, developers and distributors who are looking to build or import a M2M/IoT solution for use in Australia.
Our blog looks at the unique demands in terms of geography and coverage of Australia and the changing face of M2M and IoT customers as globalisation opens up local and International markets.
We look at local mobile operators in terms of the nation’s coverage and the 2G, 3G & LTE operating frequencies used by each. Tips on roaming SIMS, hardware approvals and IP addressing help customers and developers unfamiliar with the Australian market to understand the local M2M and IoT space.
Australia is well known for expensive data and higher operational costs compared to other countries, this is an incentive for current and prospective businesses looking to enter the market to manage data efficiently and minimize costs.
Read the full blog here
4. IoT Conference – Yow! Connected
M2M One is a sponsor of YOW! Connected, a two day Conference connecting the world of Mobile development and the Internet of Things (IoT). Topics include native development for iOS and Android, the developing market for the IoT, UX & design, back end development and the review of several business case studies. YOW! Connected provides an opportunity for Australian developers to learn from local thought leaders and specially invited international experts through the sharing of experiences developing mobile solutions and devices for the connected world.
Date: 17 September 2015 8:00am to
18 September 2015 5:00pm
Place: Jasper Hotel, 489 Elizabeth St, Melbourne
Visit us at Yow! Connected and view M2M and IoT demonstrations on Libelium’s Open Garden, ublox’s mBed Concept Board & Digi International’s XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit & ConnectCore6 Dev Kit.
For more information and to register to attend, please click here.
5. Reminder – Telstra 2G 900MHz Shutdown
We would like to continue to remind our customers that Telstra will discontinue their 2G/GSM network on the 1st of December 2016. This has implications for M2M One customers using 2G 900MHz GSM/GPRS modems.
You can view our official notification here
M2M One customers with 2G devices have the opportunity to utilize 3G and soon 4G LTE. All M2M One SIM cards are compatible with the Telstra 2G, 3G and soon 4G network so you will not need to physically change any SIM cards from M2M One.
M2MOne customers affected by the shut down of Telstra’s 2G/GSM network who are looking for solutions/alternatives for their 2G/GSM devices are advised to contact a 3G/4G LTE device vendor.
Please read M2M One’s notification of the shutdown if you haven’t already.
If you do not know if your devices will be affected by this please contact M2M One and we can help you.