Digitalisation is making great strides forward through all sectors of industry and not even politics is exempt. M2M or the Internet of Things is already the fastest-growing area of business in telecommunications.
From vehicles and construction machinery to vending machines and dog collars, there are apparently no limits to what it can be used for. IoT is being driven by new ideas and the potential for optimising processes and costs.
Despite limiting factors such as battery life, network coverage in underground structures (basement, garage) and the costs for the communication modules, the existing mobile phone network is the most widespread and cost-efficient communication technology for IoT Wide-Area-Networks.
As an enhancement of 4G/LTE technology, NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) is a mobile communication network created especially for machines that is opening up previously unimagined opportunities. NB-IoT optimises power consumption, wall penetration in buildings and latency periods and will become a cost-effective alternative to expensive proprietary wireless technologies or wired-line networks.
As the global industry standard, NB-IoT is supported by network operators, network equipment suppliers and device manufacturer worldwide, generating economies of scale which in turn lower the production costs for the network, modules and devices.
Sensors with battery lives in excess of 10 years can be built into roads to show free parking spaces, loading areas, electric charging stations but also hazardous situations. Meters can be positioned on a large scale over long distances to supply data about air quality, pollution or early flood warnings.
Overflowing containers of recyclables could soon be a thing of the past if sensors report that containers have reached their maximum fill level, enabling the waste management company to arrange for them to be emptied at exactly the right time, thus cutting costs and emissions. The term smart farming refers to applications to improve the efficiency of arable and livestock farming by using sensors in large fields but also in big herds.
Back in 2011 the Telekom Austria Group founded a subsidiary and competence center for M2M and then went on to secure by far the best frequency spectrum in Austria in the 2013 LTE frequency auction. The M2M market leader is now very well prepared for the demands of the future. The M2M platform “SIMplify” is already LTE-capable and is compatible with the special M2M chip sets (CAT1 modules).
First NB-IoT demo in Austria in partnership with Nokia
At the M2M/IoT CEE Forum, on 13 and 14 June in Vienna’s Town Hall, the team of experts from Telekom Austria Group M2M successfully presented a showcase for NB-IoT for the first time in Austria.
The showcase demonstrated the improved network coverage and advantages of future NB-IoT services that the Telekom Austria Group will be offering throughout Austria. Thanks to a software-update in the A1 network infrastructure, NB-IoT will be available without any additional network expansion.
Together with Nokia the company will be able to deliver nationwide IoT services and application scenarios in one strategic move. Furthermore, a global eco-system of open standards guarantees the long-term availability of the technology and an excellent cost structure.
“The introduction of NB-IoT is the next logical step in our M2M strategy to make the best technology and know-how on the market available to our customers and partners. We are delighted that with Nokia we have found such a highly-qualified partner for this technological step that will enable us to serve the fast-growing IoT market”, said Bernd Liebscher, managing director of Telekom Austria Group M2M, after the demo at the M2M/IoT Forum in Vienna.
“IoT devices could make up to 6.8 trillion daily connection requests by 2020. Our joint demonstration of NBIoT clearly shows the potential of this technology for managing this immense volume of connections and also Nokia’s readiness to contribute to the development and implementation of the most innovative solutions in Austria together with A1, which at the end of the day will improve consumers’ quality of life, health and safety”, said Peter Wukowits, country senior officer Austria and head of Central Europe, Nokia.
Unlike broadband transmissions such as video streaming or surfing the Internet, M2M applications in the IoT band, require only small data packets. The Narrowband IoT was developed as a narrowband wireless technology to use LTE technology as efficiently as possible by enabling small amounts of data and low data rates to be transferred over existing mobile communication infrastructure.
NB-IoT was developed specifically to provide massive support for M2M applications over LTE and is characterised, among other things, by very low power consumption which means that modules can be installed at a distance from the electricity grid. The network technologies used fall into the category Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) and are based on standardised, non-proprietary systems that enjoy the support of the mobile communication industry worldwide.
It is thus not a niche technology, but an established global standard that has the support of the entire telecommunications industry, i.e. sooner or later it will become available in all countries that have LTE networks. The advantages of this optimised LTE variant are low implementation costs, maximised network coverage and high energy efficiency.
The Telekom Austria Group is working closely together with Nokia to meet demand for these applications as swiftly as possible. In the coming months, the A1 LTE-network will receive regular updates to guarantee this even more efficient M2M communication.
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