Light Reading

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
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.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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!
SarahReedy
100%
0%
SarahReedy,
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.

 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Networks of the future will rely on "white box" switches and servers rather than proprietary hardware and that's going to alter the shape of the communications industry. Who says so? John Chambers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Intros Smart Device for eLTE

3|30|15   |   05:25   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed a secure, location-aware multimedia smartphone for its eLTE trunked radio solution, says Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Win Video, Win All

3|30|15   |   06:44   |   (0) comments


Video is going to be the next main source of revenue for operators. Operators have big opportunities and advantages to monetize video services. Globally, Huawei has helped more than 70 operators achieve over 30 million video subscribers. Watch this video for more.
LRTV Custom TV
The Benefits of HyperScale Clouds for NFV

3|27|15   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Hyperscale cloud has been developed by the Internet giants to support the creation and delivery of software-based services at blistering speeds, and at the lowest possible cost. The original ETSI NFV vision was to adopt hyperscale cloud architecture and practices. This vision has become somewhat obscured along the way, due to misunderstandings about the hyperscale ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
eLTE Rapid Meets the Need for Speed

3|26|15   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


Designed especially for emergency and dedicated ad hoc local mobile communications coverage, Huawei's eLTE Rapid solution can deliver trunked voice, video and data coverage for multiple users over a 6km range and be set up in just 15 minutes, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
On Videos: Challenges & Opportunities

3|26|15   |   5:56   |   (0) comments


Most everything is now connected. And along with 4K and 4G technologies, everyone could be creating and broadcasting video contents. Users are expecting better video experience with any screen, anywhere and anytime. Operators will meet new challenges, but also see some big opportunities.
LRTV Custom TV
JDSU: Delivering Dynamic Networks for a Personalized Experience

3|26|15   |   5:59   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks to JDSU at Mobile World Congress 2015 about new solutions in the areas of HetNets, VoLTE, backhaul, virtualization, big data analytics, and real-time intelligence.
LRTV Custom TV
Smarter Service Chaining & New Ways to Benefit From Qosmos Technology

3|25|15   |   03:11   |   (0) comments


David Le Goff, director of strategic and product marketing at Qosmos, explains how the company has added application awareness to subscriber information to make service chaining more efficient and reduce costs for networking and infrastructure. In addition, Qosmos technology, which has been delivered as C libraries, is now also available as a virtual machine, ...
Between the CEOs
Qosmos CEO: The Changing Face of DPI

3|24|15   |   13:53   |   (0) comments


LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures. Also, how the comms market is becoming more like the automotive industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FC Schalke Scores With Its Agile Stadium

3|24|15   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Top German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has deployed a new, agile WiFi network from Huawei in its Veltins-Arena stadium and is reaping the benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and business opportunities, explains marketing chief Alexander Jobst.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Insights on Mobile Video

3|24|15   |   7:51   |   (0) comments


More people than ever are now watching videos on smartphones. Seventy percent of mobile traffic will be video traffic until 2018. In this video, Huawei's exports give their insights on mobile video in terms of business model, network planning and 4G network construction.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Industry 4.0

3|24|15   |   02:26   |   (9) comments


Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It's a big deal for influential operators such as Deutsche Telekom.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Getting Connected With eLTE

3|23|15   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Trunked radio communications have entered the 4G LTE world, and with Huawei's eLTE solution, can now deliver a full range of data and video services as well as push-to-talk voice, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
Upcoming Live Events
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Woos SMBs With Small-Scale WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/26/2015
Just Don't Say IBM Is 'Relaunching' Networking Business
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 3/26/2015
TV Everywhere Nears Mainstream Adoption
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/27/2015
Carriers Are Bright Spot in BlackBerry Q4
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/27/2015
Comcast Says TWC Deal Will Close Later
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.
Chattanooga’s EPB publicly owned utility comms company has become a poster child for how to enable a local economy using next-gen networking technology. Steve Saunders, Founder of Light Reading, sits down with Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, to learn how EPB is bringing big time tech to small town America.