The new platform is designed to support Internet of Things (IoT) applications requiring low power consumption extended battery life, low bandwidth consumption and compatibility with fourth generation Long Term Evolution networks, rather than using second generation networks that are being phased out.
Intel is aiming to supply NB-LTE chipsets beginning in 2016 that will enable slim form factors.
Some say the industry has to learn from the experience of LTE when designing fifth generation network standards so there is less need to “retrofit” the network for new specialized applications.
So far, LTE has had to be adapted for voice support, content delivery and now narrowband IoT apps as well.
The new NB-LTE platform also illustrates the choices industry and suppliers must make when big new opportunities--and networks to support them--are in the developing stage, and when there are rival proposed standards.
And rival options there are, including a Huawei Technologies system called Cellular IoT, LoRa and SigFox, for example.
Other special-purpose networks developed in the past to support industrial and utility networks likely will be pitched as well.
The outcome is hard to predict at the moment, but there are precedents in the consumer electronics business for “winner take all” outcomes. In the past there has been some coexistence of a few mobile platforms, although 4G, which began with a couple of flavors, has emerged as the first truly universal mobile standard.
But IoT wireless networks could be less uniform, at least for a while, given the newness of the market and the mix of specialized industrial and commercial applications as well as mass market consumer apps.
There will be more pressure for a “winner take all” single standard for consumer IoT, but more room for some amount of heterogeneous approaches in the enterprise and industrial verticals.