Which IoT Network Wins, in the End?
The attractiveness of specialized Internet of Things networks such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox has been that they allow much lower communication costs, in addition to lower-power sensors and devices, compared to traditional mobile networks.
In fact, cost reduction, often by an order of magnitude, generally is viewed as key to the success of IoT services.
Whether that advantage lasts is the issue, as mobile air interfaces designed to offer low-cost, low-power communications come to market.
LTE-M, which is an abbreviated version of LTE-MTC (or “machine-type communications”), is a part of 3GPP’s release 12 and 13.
The advantage of LTE-MTC for M2M communications is that is a standard LTE network air interface.
In other words, a mobile operator only has to upload new baseband software onto its base stations to turn on LTE-M and won’t have to spend any money on new antennas.
It’s also five times simpler than a category 4 receiver—like that found in user equipment like a cell phone.
LTE-M has a little higher data rate than NB-LTE-M and NB-IoT, but it is able to transmit fairly large chunks of data. Thus, it can be used for applications such as tracking objects, wearables, energy management, utility metering, and city infrastructure.
With modules expected to be priced below $10, LTE-M is expected to improve the economics of IoT for use cases like smart energy meters, industrial IoT sensors, asset trackers, smart city controllers and consumer wearables.
“The first shall be last” often happens in the communications business.