The enhancements, incorporated in release 16B of Ericsson’s software, are designed to improve support for low complexity, low cost IoT devices with extended battery life, and to improve the indoor coverage of cellular networks.
Announcing the new software, Ericsson pushed the case for cellular for IoT, describing cellular as “A globe-spanning network [that] has been built over the past 20 years, that provides the coverage, security and reliability needed to connect us and bring intelligence to the things that surround us.”
Ericsson made the point that “cellular networks already cover 90 percent of the world’s population,” adding that “a number of roadblocks to supporting mass-market adoption of IoT have remained.”
“There are already more than 230 million cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions for IoT devices, but certain challenges have limited the potential for large-scale adoption across a variety of use cases, namely: the cost of IoT devices, device battery life, and cellular coverage in both remote areas and deep inside buildings,” Ericsson said.
Ericsson has also been promoting, and demonstrating, the concept of ‘capillary networks’ for IoT. These use a variety of radio technologies that could include, ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth, mesh network, and LPWANs to consolidate IoT traffic to hub that provides some monitoring and control functionality and that communications over cellular or other networks to the central monitoring and control system.
Specific enhancements to Ericsson software in 16B are:
- Support for LTE – 0 with half-duplex operation in FDD, which effectively limits functionality and capability to those specifically required for IoT applications, such as large-scale sensor and smart meter deployments. Ericsson claims the reduced complexity cuts device cost by 60 percent compared to devices designed to operate with LTE Category 4. LTE – 0 was specified by 3GPP in release 12 of the LTE specification. It is a precursor to LTE-M which is being specified in Release 13, expected to be finalised in 2016.
- Device power-saving mode for LTE & GSM is a new device power-saving capability that introduces a deep sleep state. Extended discontinuous reception (DRX) for GSM extends the sleep cycles in inactive mode.
- Extended coverage software for GSM, Ericsson says, “delivers a 20 dB improvement leading to a seven-fold extension in the range of low-rate applications. This enables the usage of IoT applications in remote locations and deep within buildings underground.”
- IoT QoS admission control for GSM enables the prioritisation of devices trying to access the network, such as giving medical equipment priority over a utility meter. It can disconnect low-priority devices temporarily to mitigate any capacity limitations. This functionality is already supported in LTE.
Demos at CTIA Las Vegas
Ericsson and its device partners will demonstrate applications of the new software in the Ericsson Booth at CTIA Super Mobility 2015 in Las Vegas, from September 9 to 11. Demonstrations include:extended coverage for GSM, in partnership with Intel; extended battery life with power saving mode on a commercial LTE chipset/module, in partnership with Altair and Telit; LTE Category 0 prototype with half duplex support for low cost device, in partnership with Sequans.