M2M Platforms

Huawei Advances LTE-M for IoT in China

Huawei is teaming up with China Unicom Shanghai and China Unicom Research Institute to advance work on LTE-M, the low-power, slower-speed version of 4G -- or 4.5G as it calls it -- that is slated to power machine-to-machine (M2M) communications of the future.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. said Monday that the trio has begun collaborating on a cellular Internet of Things (IoT) pilot based on LTE-Machine to Machine (LTE-M) in Shanghai. It hopes to have something to show from it at the 2015 Mobile World Congress Asia event. (See Huawei Promises 4.5G & LTE-M in 2016.)

Specifically, China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) is piloting Smart parking, which lets drivers find the best available parking spots around the city via a mobile app. Parking stall detectors will periodically collect data and report their status over LTE-M. Huawei says this is a typical example of the kind of thing LTE-M can enable.

The application is nothing particularly earth shattering, according to Heavy Reading 's IoT analyst Steve Bell, but, he says, "What it does confirm is that Huawei is being very proactive in IoT and cellular-based technologies and that global operators are increasingly open to the concept and reality of mixed systems to service the growing requirements of customers."

LTE-M, what Huawei dubs a 4.5G technology, is a low-power variant of 4G that Huawei says can increase in-depth coverage gain up to 100-fold and the number of connections by 1,000 while consuming one tenth of the power of a LTE device and only 200Khz of spectral resources. The network is also designed to be much lower cost to deploy by reusing existing network resources.

Huawei has developed an LTE chipset that boasts a ten-year battery life and that enables a single cell site to connect up to 100,000 IoT devices using technology from white space specialist Neul, which it acquired late last year. (See Huawei Spends $25M on Neul's IoT Smarts.)

The LTE-M specification is being laid out by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in release 12 and 13 of the LTE specification. Release 12 was finally frozen in March 2015. That release defines maximum throughput of 1 Mbit/s and optional half-duplex operation for LTE-M, otherwise known as "Cat 0" LTE. Huawei is submitting its pre-LTE-M design to the 3GPP for inclusion in LTE-M.

Today's news builds on work that Huawei has done with operators in China, Europe -- including Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) -- the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region in order reach its goal of deploying LTE-M commercially by 2016, ahead of 5G deployment. (See You Can't Spell 5G Without LTE, 5G: Generation Gap and Huawei Targets 4.5G Mobile by 2016 .)

For more on LTE-M, visit the dedicated M2M platforms content channel
here on Light Reading.

Many operators are currently debating which network makes the most sense to host their IoT strategies -- whether it be 2G, 3G, 4G or WiFi and other peer-to-peer protocols for those outside of the operator community. Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) is also gaining traction as an alternative option for low-power, low data-rate transmissions. It is available for deployment now, while some worry that LTE-M won't come down low enough in cost or power to be effective. (See Eurobites: Proximus to Roll Out IoT Network, LPWA: A Threat to 'Wait & See' IoT Operators? and IoT Tech Options.)

Chipmaker Sequans Communications says it will introduce an LTE-M chipset next year but expects launches on the low-power network to begin in 2017, not 2016 as Huawei has forecasted. (See Sequans Teams With Gemalto for IoT LTE.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

szedar 12/1/2015 | 11:14:00 AM
M-LTE path Nice up to date article about M-LTE path http://www.m2mnow.biz/2015/12/01/39542-lte-m-clarity-on-the-path-ahead/
fgibbs 7/17/2015 | 11:16:59 AM
Huawei IOT bets Huawei is making many investments in wirless solutuions for IOT.   They are involved in LTE-M for Release 13 which is what I think they mean by 4.5G.  (hate that the term 4.5G has now appeared).  The are many proponents of LTE-M of which Huawei is one. 

But Huawei is also the driving force behind the "clean slate" wireless IOT solution.  This is a "things" only network and is being pushed through 3GPP GERAN.   This is where the tech from Neul is being used.   This is also the technology that is getting a lot of support from Vodafone.   Until recently, "clean slate" had very little to do with LTE.   But in May there was a proposal to join forces with Qualcomm and they introduced OFDM into the downlink.   With QC and Huawei teamed up there is a lot of weight behind this poposal (C-IOT) but I wonder if carriers have the appetite deploy a separate IOT network.
Mitch Wagner 7/14/2015 | 10:55:08 AM
Re: New buzzphrase I think it's exciting precisely BECAUSE it's useful. Much of the "smart home" discussion has me yawning. I mean come on I'm as lazy as any American, but how hard is it to get up and turn on a light?

Matter of fact, you don't even have to get up. We have lamps next to the end of the couch. As did my parents, born in the 1920s, and in-laws, born in the 1910s. This is a solved problem. 

Similarly: You're cold? Turn up the heat. You're warm? Turn it down.

But parking is actually a serious problem. We lived in San Francisco in the 90s and I'd routinely spend 15-30 minutes every day of the week just cruising the neighborhood after work looking for parking. Millions of people do this -- every day -- literally millions. It burns gas, contributes to global warming, and consumes huge quantities of urban real estate. Studies have shown that 30% of urban traffic is just people cruising around looking for parking!

So parking is, indeed, an exciting app.
Sarah Thomas 7/14/2015 | 8:30:16 AM
Re: New buzzphrase Yeah, not the most exciting app, but could be helpful. My friends who drive here in Chicago can now pay for parking on their phone, and that alone relieves a big headache.  

As Bell pointed out, "the application is nothing particularly earth shattering as companies and operators have been looking at parking sensors to help drivers find spaces for a couple of years using alternative low power systems."
Mitch Wagner 7/13/2015 | 8:15:15 PM
New buzzphrase Internet of Parking Spaces!
Sarah Thomas 7/13/2015 | 1:28:35 PM
IoT race IoT is still relatively small despite all the hype. China is currently in the lead with 74M IoT connections already, according to a new report from the GSMA. http://pipelinepub.com/pipelinednn/static/NewsArticle.aspx?ItemID=5161
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