Chipmaker Sequans is throwing its weight behind the concept of using LTE as a building block for the Internet of Things devices over the coming year and beyond.
Sequans Communications announced a partnership Wednesday morning with Gemalto to integrate the company's "StreamliteLTE" chipset platforms into wireless communication modules for the machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) markets. M2M communications are the lingua franca of IoT, which envisages a near-future where everything from cars to fridges has some form of communications chip onboard.
"We expect, in any case, big business on this next year," Sequans CEO, George Karam, says of the IoT push. "This is where single-mode LTE really matters."
The major initial market will be the US, the CEO says, but expects interest from Japan and Australia too. (See Eurobites: AlcaLu, Sequans Combine on IoT for Orange.)
The initial StreamLite offering is based on Sequans's "Calliope" LTE category 1 LTE platform. This means that its data rates are restricted to 10 Mbit/s and it uses less power than higher category 4G silicon. The first of the new Sequans-powered Gemalto modules is expected to certify and ship in the second half of 2015.
The major issue for chipmakers wanting to push LTE into the IoT space is that other, cheaper, cellular options like 2G and 3G connections already exist. Karam argues, however, that with earlier networks being closed down -- particularly in the US -- LTE is a better option to ensure a long connected life for IoT devices like sensors and alarms.
"2G spectrum is getting refarmed, the networks are going away," Karam suggests. Of course many devices will use WiFi or Bluetooth for connectivity, but Sequans is expecting around 15% to 20% of the connected devices will have a cellular connection. With analyst estimates in the billions for the numbers of IoT devices, this still translates into a huge market.
After that, Sequans will be introducing a chipset based on the even slower and lower power LTE-M specification. "We'll be ready next year," the CEO says.
He expects, however, that LTE-M launches could end up happening in 2017.
The Sequans Calliope platform was one of the winners of the Leading Lights awards this year. (See Leading Lights Awards 2015: The Winners.)
Gemalto 's modem rival Sierra Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: SWIR; Toronto: SW) recently made a move to increase its visibility in the IoT market with the $15.7 million acquisition of European mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) MobiquiThings. (See Sierra Wireless Buying IoT-Focused MVNO .)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading