The Wireless IoT Forum (WIoTF), the body working to accelerate the wide-scale adoption of wireless wide-area networking technologies devoted to the Internet of Things (IoT), has called on national telecom regulators such as Ofcom and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to dedicate bandwidth to ensure the monetisation and long-term sustainability of IoT networks and services.
At present, available bands do not meet the needs of large-scale IoT deployment in that power restrictions can be challenging, there are often duty cycle constraints as low as 1%, bands are fragmented around the world and interference levels can be high or risk becoming high because any type of applications and technologies can use the bands. Furthermore, problems can arise because all traffic on an IoT network has to go through a small number of base stations or network relay points and these are subject to the same regulatory constraints as any other device operating in unlicensed spectrum.
If current growth trends continue, a profusion of wide-area IoT networks will results in many thousands of IoT devices per cell. The Wireless IoT Forum believes that to communicate with these devices the cells will need at least:
- Sufficient power to deliver a range of up to 5km
- The ability to have an uplink/downlink balance that is flexible, extending to applications that are predominantly downlink as well as those that are predominantly uplink
- Reasonable freedom from interference
- A small number of frequencies spanning a relatively narrow band that are available globally
William Webb, WIoTF CEO said: “It is clear the IoT is a key technology to boost productivity, alleviate key societal challenges, and improve our working lives and to deliver growth and employment. For these reasons it merits a higher level of regulatory attention than many other wireless applications. We would like to see regulators dedicate bands in the range 800MHz-1000MHz to IoT applications, thus overcoming interference issues. Where IoT is deployed in general purpose unlicensed bands we would like to see “light licensing” approaches for base stations removing duty cycle restrictions and enabling higher power levels.”
The forum’s mandate is to remove fragmentation and drive consolidation around a minimal set of standards for both licensed and license-exempt wireless solutions; developing a clear set of requirements through engagement with vertical end-users, and a clear use-case driven roadmap for the eco-system of technology companies, apps developers and operators.