LTE SPECIAL REPORT 2014: A value-added tack, part IV – LTE and M2M

Carriers must play their part in enabling new revenue streams for LTE networks, based around a mix of value-added services. Capacity investigates.

Continued from LTE SPECIAL REPORT 2014: A value-added tack, part III – LTE roaming solutions

LTE and M2M

LTE’s speed and power lend it well to applications such as streaming video to a device on the move. Its qualities do not at first consideration appear to make it a natural partner for M2M applications, where the ability to inexpensively link multiple inanimate end points in a way that is seldom time-critical has made it a largely 2G world to date. If you want to monitor a piece of factory equipment or keep tabs on a car fleet, why go to the expense of doing that via LTE?

It could be time for carriers to think of M2M while remembering some of LTE’s other qualities: namely its scalability, resilience and long-term efficiency. These values might prove important in the next generation of high-performance M2M applications and take the market to the next generation.

“Real-time M2M services will take bandwidth requirements up to a new level,” says Steve Shaw, director of mobile solutions marketing with equipment vendor Juniper Networks. “It then becomes a question of cost. Certainly a combination of LTE and virtualisation technologies – like SDN – makes it a lot easier to get creative in new service areas. When you can drop an object into the network, the service provider can start to experiment.”

The marriage of LTE and M2M might take a while yet, however, believes Frédéric Pujol, radio technologies and spectrum practice manager with analyst firm iDate.

“You can already have car telematics using LTE, but it will take time before 4G competes fully with 2G in the M2M market,” he believes. “Within two or three years, 4G will be cheap enough to replace the 2G module in M2M devices.”

Within time, says Pujol, operators will be on the look-out for a wholesale service to facilitate M2M over LTE.

“The future where there are more machines connected than humans is ahead,” he says. “Carriers don’t want to play the part of mere utility, though.”

To read part V – LTE security solutions – click here.

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