& cplSiteName &

Does M2M Need LTE?

Dan Jones
5/7/2014
50%
50%

LTE-focused chip designer Altair Semiconductor is betting that a 4G-only modem is a big part of the future of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

M2M sensors, RFID badges, and tracking tags have typically used short-range radio technology like Zigbee, Bluetooth, and WiFi for connectivity. Carriers, meanwhile, have mostly focused on 2G and 3G networks for M2M applications, figuring that most situations don't require particularly high-data rates.

The need to avoid truck rolls every few years to upgrade or replace sensors will soon push carriers, utilities, and vendors towards LTE, however, argues Eran Eshed, co-founder and VP of marketing at Altair Semiconductor . "In the M2M space you need to guarantee network longevity, or it's a non-starter," he states.

To that end, Altair is working on an LTE-only modem -- the ALT100M -- for the M2M market in anticipation of more focus on "Internet of Things" devices using 4G. "I'd say that you'll see products selling in the market next year," Eshed says of the coming silicon.

Eshed adds that the M2M market has some particular requirements when it comes to comms chips:

  • The silicon needs to be cheap. The Altair modem is expected to be in sniffing distance of WiFi prices, which could mean $10 or less.
  • M2M silicon doesn't need massive throughput. Altair is targeting 10 Mbit/s or much less and optimizing the chip to "sleep" between "bursty" transmissions to lessen power requirements.
  • Eshed says Altair is working to make the modem as easy for vendors to integrate with the rest of the silicon as possible.

As far as applications go, the sky's the limit. Eshed is looking at everything from medical sensors to vending machines to automotive applications.

The security and authentication baked into the LTE standard will be particularly important for medical monitoring applications. "There's no insurance company that will rely on a [wearable with a] Bluetooth connection to an Android phone for that," Eshed argues.

The company is currently looking at automotive applications that use LTE connectivity for regular reports, rather than needing constant connectivity. "The challenge today is [LTE] coverage," Eshed says, while noting that the design cycles for actually building new communications into cars can be pretty lengthy, so coverage will become less of an issue over time.

"In the automotive space, what you work on today will be in the market in five years time," he says.

He also expects, however, that after-market plug-ins using LTE will be a significant market for connected cars. For instance, a driver could use an LTE monitor to report daily or weekly to an insurance company on how fast they drive, how often they brake, and other metrics. Good drivers could then get a better rate based on those real-world but not real-time metrics.

Eshed says that Altair's LTE-only strategy has been vindicated -- in part -- by the success of the Verizon Wireless Ellipsis 7 LTE-only tablet. Eshed says that he can't reveal exactly how many have been sold but that it is "a seven-digit figure."

Altair provided Verizon with a $30 LTE chip for the project. The operator has the own-brand tablet built by an Asian ODM and sells the tablet for $249.99 without a contract or $49.99 with a two-year agreement. (See CTIA: Verizon Pushes for Single-Mode LTE.)

"Our [LTE-only] strategy has remained the same and expanded," the CMO says. "But we don't have to explain or apologize anymore." (See Altair Raises $25M for Single-Mode LTE.)

In fact, he states, Altair is now ready to consider an IPO. "We're looking at going public next year," Eshed says.

To make a success of it though, the company has to stay out of the way of the 4G big daddy Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and find new markets where its LTE-only strategy will work well, hence this latest push towards the burgeoning M2M market.

Altair is not the only chip company eyeing M2M as an opportunity. Sequans Communications has its StreamliteLTE system-on-a-chip aimed at IoT applications, for instance.

The IoT space, however, is so "fragmented and diverse" that it makes sense to deliver a cheap, easy-to-integrate modem for M2M applications so that vendors can use it as they wish, Eshed argues.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
wanlord
50%
50%
wanlord,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/8/2014 | 3:54:29 PM
Re: M2M need for narrowband
Depends on the application obviosly and it's requirements. M2M devices still use dial up !

 

 
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/7/2014 | 5:09:55 PM
Re: M2M need for narrowband
Which one?

 

The benefit of what Sigfox is proposing is that it is built from the ground up to be a low-power connection. It's very ambitious to have a startup proposing to build a whole new international network though.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/7/2014 | 5:07:24 PM
Re: M2M need for narrowband
I wouldn't say it's less ambitious, but is it necessary?
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/7/2014 | 3:54:23 PM
Re: M2M need for narrowband
For sure, not everything will need LTE.

I'm not sure that building an entirely new and different network counts as any less ambitious than repurposing LTE for different applications though!
Sarah Thomas
100%
0%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/7/2014 | 3:49:34 PM
the network debate
This has been debated for awhile, mainly by companies like RACO Wireless that don't offer LTE. It seems that the majority of apps will only need 2G networks, but I can think of several that need or at least would benefit from 4G -- video, enterprise, in-car. Even so, 3G, even 2G will have its place for a long time to come (until those networks get sunsetted, at least.)
PoulArf
50%
50%
PoulArf,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/7/2014 | 3:24:11 PM
M2M need for narrowband
Hi,

 

There is a general tendency to focus only on faster and broader connections (3G, 4G and beyond). However a lot of M2M applications will need for very small amount of data that can be provided at a low cost and will consum very low power.

Have a look at Sigfox which is deplooying Ultra Narrow Band technology throughout several countries. See http://sigfox.com/en/

It is clear that not all M2M applications will need LTE or even will not be able to use LTE. 

P.

 
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 14, 1:00PM EDT
What Is Agile?
Kent J. McDonald, Product Owner, Agile Alliance
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 16, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement Agile
Alan Bateman, Director, Agile Transformation
Wednesday, September 21, 1:00PM EDT
What Is DevOps?
Colin Kincaid, CTO, Service Provider, Cisco
Friday, September 23, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement DevOps
,
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP Systems' Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (2) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cisco Developing 'Monica' Digital Assistant
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/22/2016
FirstNet: A Billion-Dollar Boondoggle?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/26/2016
WiCipedia: Should Men Be Included? & Olympians Face Discrimination
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 8/26/2016
Google Fiber Can't Be Called a Failure
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/26/2016
Google Fiber Downsizing Not Confirmed
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Bridging the tech skills gap is a major challenge for service providers and suppliers alike today – and the challenge is two-fold when it comes to increasing the number of women in the comms space. Level 3 Communications has made it a priority to overcome both challenges by implementing several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within – in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs. During this radio show, you’ll learn about these programs from Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3, and the best ways to bridge your own skills gap so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you’ll have the chance to ask Mary Beth your questions live on the air.