IoT Makes the Leap to Next Generation Cellular Networks

– [David] Hello, this is David Hall of the
M2M Zone. And it is my pleasure to welcome you all to the M2M Zone webinar titled IoT
Makes the Leap to Next Generation Cellular Networks. This webinar is sponsored by
Digi International. Before we start, there are a few items that I would like to
bring to the attention of our viewers. Today’s presentation will be approximately
45 minutes long, followed by a 15-minute Q&A session with our panelists.
This is an interactive webinar, so we are eager to receive your questions
at any time. Just type them into the Q&A window at the bottom of your screen. Our
speakers will address as many of the questions as possible during the Q&A
segment following the presentation. Please address your questions to all
panelists, which is the default setting in the Q&A box. This presentation will be
archived and available for viewing later on in the event section of the M2M Zone
website. Also, if anyone would like to see more details in the slides, simply click
on the full-screen button at the upper right-hand corner. At this point it is my
pleasure to turn the session over to our moderator, Robin Duke-Woolley, Founder and
CEO of Beecham Research. Robin has over 35 years experience in the
telecom and IT industry. Firstly in commercial roles covering
marketing management, sales management, and general management in international
technology vendors companies. And secondly in market analysis and
consulting roles. He has been researching the M2M and IoT markets since 2001 and is
an internationally recognized thought leader in this area. Robin.
– [Robin] Thank you, David. Well, we got a great discussion for you today.
We have two speakers with us to discuss next generation networks for IoT.
Just to take you back, I remember a time some years ago now when I asked an M2M
module supplier if they could see a need for 3G speeds in M2M.
And the answer I got then was “no.” So times have changed somewhat since then.
In this webinar we’ll be discussing the sort of IoT applications that are best
suited to 4G LTE and 5G carrier networks and the market opportunities for those are
now, crucial subject for the development of the IoT. So let me introduce you to our
two speakers in turn, both from Digi. So we have Andrew Lund, who is a Product
Marketing Manager, Digi International. So, Andrew, are you there?
– [Andrew] I’m here. Good day. – Must have been on mute. And Brent
Nelson, who is Senior Product Manager, Digi International. So welcome, Brent.
– [Brent] Thank you, Robin. And thanks, everybody, for joining.
– Great. So, gentlemen, welcome to you both. Andrew focuses primarily on the
retail energy and transportation industries. He manages Digi’s 2G network
sunsetting activities, or initiatives, and the go-to-market strategy for Digi’s
associated product solutions, including the Digi Transport family of M2M routers
with Gobi 4G LTE technology. And then Brent has over a decade of experience in
wireless machine-to-machine communication as a design engineer and product manager.
As a cellular-focused product manager, Brent understands and constantly studies
dynamics in the industrial IoT market. And with that knowledge,
he ensures the Digi cellular product suite addresses top industry challenges.
Now I’m going to present some introductory slides first, and then that’s going to be
followed by Andrew, and then Brent. So just to remind you, as David said just
now, there will be a Q&A session at the end. You can ask me your questions for our
speakers at any time starting now. Just type them in the “ask a question” window
on your screen. I’ll put as many of those questions as possible to our speakers
later in the hour. So please start sending your questions right now.
So I’m going to do a short introductory few slides just to sort of set the scene,
and then I’ll hand over, as I said, to Andrew. So IoT Makes the Leap to Next
Generation Cellular Networks. Now I always start my presentations with this slide
simply to remind us, in this case, that there are an awful lot of applications out
there for M2M and IoT, and it’s quite likely that one connectivity type cannot
really cover all of these. And, in fact, what we look at now is cellular 2G,
3G, 4G moving to 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, fixed broadband,
wireless broadband, satellite. And now, of course, we’ve got low-power wide area,
the low-power IoT, and also mobile IoT. So the next few slides,
that I’m talking about LPWA, low-power wide area, I’m including and,
in fact, mainly talking about LTE-M and NB-IoT, which are the cellular versions of
that technology set, if you like. So there are many different technology or
connectivity types have a part to play in IoT. I think that’s increasingly the case
over time. Gone are the days where we just had 2G, for example,
for most of what we were doing. So it’s getting quite exciting now and this is
what we’re going to be talking about. So just to remind those that may not be
familiar, LPWA fits the area of data rates below cellular and below ZigBee,
but higher range towards the longer range. So it’s a whole opportunity for
applications that have not really been feasible before, not really been economic
to cover before. As well as providing, in a lot of cases, a more economic way to
look at some applications that have been looked at but perhaps not expanded on.
So there’s a lot of opportunity to start to get some real volumes into the
marketplace with these technologies. This slide tries to summarize them into seven
different categories. So smart city, agriculture and environment,
utilities, industrial, logistics, smart building, consumer and medical.
So these are all, if you like, subcategories of the first slide that I
showed, but all areas that have been difficult to use the current technologies
or the previous technologies before we got to the new LPWA area.
So then just to remind us how LPWA is complementary to traditional cellular.
So in the top table we have a comparison between cellular and LPWA.
So energy requirements tend to be high with cellular, low with LPWA,
and low with the mobile IoT versions of cellular. The range is long in both cases.
The data rate is high for cellular, and of course getting higher with 4G to 5G and so
forth. And that’s going to be talked about shortly. And low to medium with LPWAN.
Cost of endpoints, medium to high for cellular, very low for LPWA.
In-building penetration is average to poor with cellular, but good with LPWA.
So a big contrast there. And then application example, a very easy one to
visualize in the car park environment. So cellular would tend to be into parking
payment systems, security, video cameras, and other high data rate applications.
Whereas for the LPWA we’re looking at parking space sensors showing empty,
vacant, EV charging availability, those types of things. So it’s a complementary
type of area. We did a chart to show how LPWA fits into the overall sector chart
that I showed just now. So we flipped it up on its side, and then looked at…it’s
like looking under the bonnet, really. Looking at LPWA underneath that and the
types of activities, the types of applications that are really served by
LPWA. And this is a whole new area that needs to be addressed by the IoT industry
over the next few years. So when we start to talk about new volumes in the
marketplace, we’re really talking about the big volumes being in this area and
through applications that have not really been covered in any great depth up to now.
Let me talk about the service attributes for these type of applications,
what are the main requirements. And I’ve listed those in this slide.
So typically battery life is important to consider. Transmit mode,
whether it needs to be one-way or two-way. Message delivery, whether there needs to
be some sort of acknowledgement of receipt. Latency. Scalability,
can it scale to have huge volumes. Data rate, what data rate is actually required
by the application. Geographic coverage, is it required in a national or even a
citywide type of situation, or international. Security requirements,
what sort of security requirements does that particular application have.
And then the device cost, very important. So some of these are probably more
important than others, but those are the ones that we think people need to bear in
mind. So now going to… Do anybody see those slides?
I’m not sure that I… I’m sorry, but I’m having some
difficulty with the slides. – Yes, Robin, we can see your slides
advancing. – Okay. I’m going to hand over to Andrew
now so that he can move through his slides.
– Fantastic. Thank you, Robin. Let me get mine teed up.
Just make sure you can see this. – Yeah, I can.
– Great. Well, Good morning, good afternoon. And I certainly echo Robin’s
gratitude to our audience for joining us. Brent and I are excited to cover some
material related to this notion that IoT making the leap to next generation
cellular networks. There are many changes on the horizon and it’s an exciting time
to be involved, I think. I think that’s the reason we have so many of you on the
call this morning. Just a quick outline of what we’ll cover today.
I’m going to sort of provide, I suppose, an analogy or a metaphor to sort of frame
the discussion around the notion of 5G, and then the LPWAN technology that Robin
was talking about. And then we’ll talk about this notion of whether more or
better sort of connectivity will be kind of the thing to focus on the next few
years. And then provide a little bit of a conclusion to wrap things up.
And hopefully, as Robin said, we have some questions to drive some dialog there
towards the end. So Robin was sort of casting a vision, a pretty comprehensive
vision really, of different applications that are handled by different types of
cellular technology today and have been historically. And we’re on the cusp of a
significant change. And what it sort of reminds me of is this…but full
disclaimer, but in the mid ’70s there was oil embargo on the United
States, and oil crisis, if you like. And the U. S. Congress enacted the National
Maximum Speed Limit Law, limiting speeds on the highways, interstate highways,
to 55, and that should be less than 55. And this was the motivation,
I guess, for Sammy Hagar’s famous rock song “I Can’t Drive 55.” But basically
what Congress was trying to do was to limit oil consumption, and that’s
interesting and, I guess, kind of an interesting anecdote. But think about now
today, of course, obviously it’s been repealed and it was repealed in 1995.
So the similarity that I would draw between that story and ours today is if
you…so think about if you were shopping for a car in the mid ’90s and you knew
that the speed limit was going to be removed. What would you buy?
Would you buy a big muscle car to take advantage of the…what is it in Nebraska
now? I guess it’s like 75 or something, 80, I believe. If you knew a change was
coming, you would plan accordingly. Right? And so the answer to that question,
what would you buy, really is it depends. Right? It depends. Are you an
over-the-road trucker? Are you a speed freak who likes muscle cars,
let’s say? You would want to make a decision for that transport based on what
your application was, right? So it’s the same thing with 5G. Right?
It depends. And so as we look forward it’s, I think, helpful now to say that
it’s not just the speed limit is being removed, but the shoulders of the highway,
if you like, are being opened up for traffic. And so this diagram is sort of
illustrating that notion that there’s going to be a fast lane,
there’s going to be a relatively slow lane. It’s not a perfect analogy,
but it’s accurate enough. And then there’s going to be this kind of other,
and that’s what I consider the unlicensed LPWA. And Brent will talk a little bit
about those in more detail, but that’s kind of the driving metaphor that we’re
using for today’s discussion. And so with that, let me pass the ball,
so to speak, to Brent to walk through some slides.
– All right, thank you. Thank you, Andrew. So to kind of follow up on Andrew’s
analogy, we’re getting off the freeway here with the narrow band and we’re
getting onto the shoulders. In fact, we’re getting onto the sidewalks.
Where you’re talking about lower speed, lower power type devices.
So I’m going to talk about the narrow band, the new narrow band standards that
are coming up for cellular. And when I say “narrow band,” that’s literally what
it is. You’re taking the 20 megahertz standard LTE band and you’re shrinking
that down to a smaller band, and there’s a lot of benefits that come with that.
So I’m going to lump two different LTE standards under the category of narrow
band, one is LTE-Cat M and the other is narrow band IoT. And I’ll talk a little
bit about the differences here, but in general the benefits that they’re going to
provide and the way that they’re going to expand the IoT marketplace are very
similar. So when we look at devices and applications that don’t need a lot of
data, that don’t need…they need to be very low-cost, they’re running off
batteries, they need to be very low battery life. There’s a lot of benefits to
this. So with these new standards you’re going to see a lower device cost,
you’re also typically going to see a lower recurring cost with these devices.
So that’s going to be your monthly cellular bill that you’re getting from
your carrier. They’re also greatly extended battery life, and then improved
coverage. Now the tradeoff to that, and there’s always tradeoffs with everything,
nothing in life is free, is you’re giving up your latency, you’re going to have a
much longer latency with these, and you’re lowering your throughput.
So you got to think about the different applications where this could be of value.
Say where you’re monitoring a sensor and it’s sending very, very low data,
very, very low data rates and latency isn’t as critical. So tracking things like
tank wells or water level in a sewer or location of different assets,
these are the things where these types of standards will be a good fit.
So at a high level, and this is a fairly technical slide and I don’t want to get
too technical in this, but I do want to talk about the differences between these
standards. Because for the rest of the discussion I’m going to talk mainly about
them as a whole, just as narrow band as a whole. So Cat M1 currently being piloted
in the U. S. So Verizon and AT&T have their pilot sites up and they are testing
out their Cat M1 networks, and you’re going to hear a lot about this throughout
the year if you haven’t heard about it already. It’s going to be…starting to
see those networks deployed more widely in the middle of the year and through the
second half of the year. Now in other parts of the world, NB-IoT is actually
going to come to market first ahead of Cat M1. So Vodafone and Telefonica,
for example, are doing their NB-IoT networks first. So depending on where you
are in the world, you might see different networks that are going to come online
first. And then there will likely be devices that have global support and
modules that will support both of these standards. So if you dig into kind of the
technical details, Cat M1 from a downloading speed is sub-1 megabyte per
second. And so think of a 2G speed, go back to the 2G devices that you had
before. That’s relatively what you get with Cat M1. Now narrow band IoT even goes
below that. So very, very low data rate. Again, think of a sensor just spitting out
temperature data every five minutes. So very, very low data rate devices.
If you jump down a couple of lines, you’ll see module costs come down significantly,
where you’re probably paying $60 to $30 for an LTE module today,
depending on how many different bands it’s covering. The goal is for these types of
modules to get down in the $10-dollar, even sub-$10-dollar cost range.
The other thing to note at the very bottom there is the different module complexity,
and that’s really where your cost savings come from. It’s not an exact science,
but it’s a stat that’s quoted a lot, is comparing the module complexity of these
modules versus what you’re getting in your LTE modules today. And that’s where a lot
of your cost savings is coming from. You’ll also notice that both of these
are running in half duplex mode, which is going to not only simplify the module,
but there’s where you’re starting to make your latency tradeoffs.
– Okay, so some of the big… Oh, excuse me. So one of the biggest factors and one
of the driving forces for involving these new standards is new power saving modes.
So especially the industrial IoT market, you see devices that are installed
in very remote locations, down in sewers, up in towers, places where you might need
to drive 100 miles to go out and get it. You might need to go into a hazardous area
to get it. And you might have devices that are spread over hundreds and hundreds of
miles. So battery life is a very, very critical thing for these devices.
Where we’re at today with LTE-Cat 1 is about two to three years.
And this is all relative battery life, it’s all application-dependent.
How often are these devices collecting data? How often are they reporting?
But a typical use case on an LTE industrial IoT device is about two to
three years today. As we look and expand relatively, the LTE-Cat M1 can get that
to 5 to 7 years, and the narrow band IoT can take that up to about 7 to 10
years. And so what these new standards are implementing is a new power saving mode.
And probably the easiest way to understand that, if you’ve ever worked with any
machine-to-machine cellular routers or cellular devices, you power them up and
somewhere on that device there’s probably an LED. And that LED flashes red for about
30 seconds while that device is connecting, and then it connects and it
starts flashing green, green or blue or whatever color it is that indicates that
that device is connected. I’ve watched thousands of devices do this over the
years. And during that whole time you’re burning power. So what you really need is
something that can stay sleeping most of the time, and then connect and be
transmitting immediately. So in these new power saving modes devices can
essentially, at least from a cellular module perspective, be off,
but they’re still, from a network perspective, connected. Which means they
can wake up and transmit at any time. From a receive capability,
they go into what’s called a discontinuous reception mode, which means essentially
I’m not listening for traffic all the time. I’m going to wake up occasionally
and look and see if there’s any traffic or anything that I need to receive.
And the key is that the network itself does not kick you off the network when
you’re in that mode. So this is really a software update that these carriers are
making so that the device can stay connected even though it’s really not even
on at that time. So what you’re doing here is you’re trading latency for battery
life. So when you think of your applications where latency is not a key
factor but battery life is, these are the standards that are really going to expand
adoption throughout the market. So the second thing that’s
going to greatly expand the adoption of industrial IoT is
the cost reduction, so these are the upfront cost reductions and the
device…excuse me, the device cost reductions and the recurring cost
reductions. Because everything, no matter how cool technology is,
everything somewhere comes down to return on investment calculation, especially
industrial IoT. If that return on investment calculation doesn’t turn green,
you’re not making a sale today. So how do we get that cost reduction? So
the biggest one is the upfront device cost. One thing to note is when you go to
these newer narrow band standards, you go from a dual antenna requirement to
a single antenna requirement without losing any of your coverage. So that alone
is bringing down your antenna cost. I already spoke about the reduced module
complexity, which brings down the module cost to the $10, and even potentially
sub-$10-dollar range. So you’re getting LTE at less than 2G prices. And
depending on your application, you either get longer battery life or you
potentially use a smaller battery at a smaller cost if cost is more of a factor
than battery life. Now then there’s the recurring data piece. Which, again, is the
bill that you’re paying typically to your carriers. Some of that is going to come
down just because you’re using lower data usage. The second piece will be the
reduced plan rates from the carriers. Now I can’t guarantee that AT&T and
Verizon or whoever your carrier is is going to give you a drastic reduction on
the plan, but we understand the competitive nature of the market that
they’re going to be trying to get more and more of this industrial IoT and the IoT
markets because the consumer users are saturating. So that’s going to bring
down…both competitive nature and the efficiency of these LTE standards are
going to bring down that monthly data cost.
Okay. So if we look at what does that really do to the market and we look
at the two approaches for connecting remote assets. And those assets,
in this case I’m using a sensor, they could be sensors, they could be simple
machines, it could be complex machines. There’s really two approaches to doing
this today. Now the one on the left is where you take a local area network,
something 802.15-based usually, maybe ZigBee, and you connect those through a
gateway. So each one of those sensors would have some kind of short-range
wireless. They might be talking… I show kind of a very simple star network here,
but there might be a very complex mesh network. And this has historically been
the way that customers have gone to market, where you’ve got a lot of devices
in an area and connect them through the central gateway. And the reason for that
was the cellular modules were very expensive, so you didn’t want to burden
all your sensor costs with those modules, and also the data plan on each gateway
could be very expensive. Now the downfall to this is they’re more complex to set up
and maintain. Now if we go to the right, which is really the cellular everywhere
model, and that’s where you’re putting…in all your assets you’re
putting…you have direct cellular communication. That might be from a module
inside the device, or it might be that device connected to a single gateway.
But the point is that each one has its own cellular connection.
So the benefit to that is the setup is very easy, you don’t have local RF to
worry about, you don’t have to have a network engineer, you don’t have to worry
about somebody building a steel shed in between two of your points and having half
your nodes drop off the network. But this has been limited in the past because of
the cost of cellular and the cost of those data plans. And you saw much more
of people implementing the type of topology you see on the left.
But as we look at what’s changing with these
new IoT standards, it’s really driving the market to cellular everywhere.
And at Digi we’re not biased in this, we support both modes.
So we’re not biased in driving you one way or another, we’re just kind of looking at
what the market is trending. So really we had a lot of customers who were doing the
other approach with a local ZigBee network connecting to a central gateway,
but they started coming to us and saying, “With the cost that we’re getting per
device for our cellular data contracts with the cost of those cellular data
devices, either a module or an external gateway, coming down so low,
we just want to do cellular everywhere. We don’t want to deal with ZigBee networks
and other local RF. We just want to put cellular everywhere and make it easy to
connect our devices.” So this is where we start to see the market going with
industrial IoT and these narrow band standards. Again, due to the dropping
recurring cost, the module cost. Also the fact that they’re lower power,
so it’s less of a hit on the battery inside these devices or in the gateway.
And really it eliminates the need for specialized staffing because cellular is
very easy to configure, they can almost be dropping where you configure…they show
up on site already activated on the network and it essentially becomes just
plug and play. So as these standards become more prominent, we’re going to see
more and more people driving to the cellular everywhere model.
Okay, I’m going to hand it back to Andrew, who’s going to cover the remaining parts
of the presentation. – Fantastic. Thank you. Okay, so as Brent
said, we’ll cover the rest of the material now. And as you can see on the section
slide, what we’ll be talking about are some real-world applications. And so there
are really no shortage of reports, of analysis, of conferences and speakers
that you can go to and consume information in the abstract about IoT applications.
Right? But you’re on a webinar now with a couple of product managers from Digi, and
so we’ll talk in a little more real-world application type terms, okay? And
certainly we have no better source for the sort of analysis and comprehensive view
than our host Robin’s organization with Beecham Research. But we’ll cover some
specific things now. Earlier I mentioned this concept of making the distinction
between more connected things and better connected things. And so at Digi our focus
is on what we call sort of mission-critical IoT. And so I’ll probably
explain that as we go through, but just what do I mean by better, start
off with that, what do we mean by better? So better means faster, in terms of our
throughput. Low power, and Brent articulated a lot of that
benefit in the previous slides. Lower cost, Brent also touched on that,
both in terms of the hardware cost and data pricing. And then lower latency. So
we’ll walk through some examples here of real-world, mission-critical applications.
Because the reality is Digi, there are a lot of cool…and we saw a lot
of these at CES, right? Cool Internet-connected dog food dishes
and fitness trackers and refrigerators and all that, and that’s really great. But
Digi’s hallmark really is what we call the Internet of getting things done, if you
like. So we’re going to talk about some customers in subsequent slides who are
using, not in every case Digi technology, but using the kind of technology we’re
talking about, 5G and up and coming LPWAN technology today. All right? So let’s talk
about speed for a second. [Inaudible], I think, actually
said this first, but why is it the only thing that’s not HD today are security
cameras? Did you ever think about that? What could be more important to have
viewed in HD than security camera footage, right? If it’s important enough to put up
a camera, wouldn’t it be important enough to see what’s going on in that camera in
high def? And so Digi has customers today who are using LTE technology for the
kind of images that you see below. And so it’s very, very, very fascinating
to see what they’re able to do and the extent to which they’re able to expand
their business. Because if you go into a sale with, let’s say, an owner who owns a
chain of auto dealerships and you say…you show an image on the lower right
and say, “See? We can help protect you from theft if someone is stealing cars or
stealing the alternators out of the cars.” And you show them this image. What do you
think your success rate is going to be versus showing an image with the clarity
on the left, right? So I’ll give you sort of one guess as to which one is sent over
LTE. This isn’t to say that universally LTE is required for any kind of security
camera applications, that’s certainly not the case, but we see that trend certainly
going forward as LTE-Cat 6 and as 5G becomes available. So this is an example
that Brent had referenced sort of anonymized. This is an example where we
worked with GE to do some tank monitoring. And so the example on the left is
representative of that sort of…certainly still going on today, but especially
prevalent in the early 2000s, coming up to 2010. Mesh networking to a 3G
gateway. Right? So I’ve got some level sensors on, let’s say, a water quality or
a fluid process treatment kind of application. I need to know the tank level
and some metrics related to the contents of that tank. I can have a relatively
expensive, upfront capital cost, complicated mesh network possibility of
failure. As Brent mentioned someone building a metal shed or putting up a
chain-link fence or something like that and really altering the RF network. Then
back to a gateway with a single point for takeout. Or, as Brent had given the
example, I can put a monitoring device on each individual asset. So I can put, in
this case, a Connect Tank type of specialized LTE-connected device right on,
in this case, the diesel exhaust fluid tank. So this is simple, it’s relatively
easier…actually much easier to install, less prone to failure. And with new data
plan pricing and cellular costs coming down, we do expect to see more of these
discreet point by point monitoring type of applications.
So the other example is a lottery operator called IGT,
that used to be Gtech. You may know them by both names. But companies like IGT,
and there are a few of them in the world, they historically had faced a tradeoff
between in the early 1970s up into the 2000s they were primarily connected by a
USB dongle. And the text is a little bit cut off there, but there’s “or VSAT,”
right? Very small aperture terminals, so a satellite terminal.
And so fundamentally these gaming operators faced a choice, right?
They could take the relatively high-cost, high-reliability approach on the upper
right of that X-Y axis there on the left and install a VSAT terminal at each
location, convenient stores, liquor stores, and so forth.
Or they could take a lower cost and relatively…
actually much lower reliability approach with USB dongles,
if you like, or a USB-based 2G or 3G connection. So for a company who faces
very high, stiff SLAs, service level agreements, if they know, if they win
their contracts, in most cases…well, certainly in many cases they chose VSAT,
right? I would say in most cases they chose VSAT. Take the high-cost and
high-reliability approach. But with the prevalence of cost-competitive LTE and
highly reliable LTE, that old binary choice is now obviated and what we see
today is lottery terminals are connected over LTE in many, many tens of thousands
of instances. Because this gives the lottery operators a low-cost,
highly reliable LTE connection. So this is extremely attractive. And really this kind
of tradeoff dynamic is what’s driven LTE in many retail applications,
beyond just lottery operators. There’s many, many kinds of retail terminals now
connected over LTE. So that’s a very sort of clear-cut, real-world example of the
cost making the difference, okay? So the better connected, though we also mentioned
better connected means lower latency, right? And I’ll briefly touch on two
examples related to lower latency, and then we’ll get to some questions.
So this is an example of a…in particular I’m thinking about a gas utility in the
Southeast United States who had used 2G, 3G, and now into 4G LTE networking for
there SCADA controls group, if you like. They have a gas distribution pipeline and
they need to pull up things like flow, essentially metering, SCADA type
information. They had originally used a copper, sort of DS0 circuit,
which are pretty low-latency, really. But when they had gone to 2G and 3G their
experience was slow, coverage can sometimes be spotty, frequently they need
to do PRL updates or some kind of response, some kind of networking change
from the carrier. Their experience with LTE, and this is a direct quote,
is “it’s like you’re right there.” They can sit in their control room and make
changes, view data coming by, and it’s very snappy in terms of response.
They have to do fewer PRL updates, coverage is better as partly due
to networks being built out. So low latency really, really matters
in a SCADA type application, and that’s what we’ll… Brent had
mentioned the tradeoffs between latency and cost, that’s certainly something to
keep in mind in this kind of application. Okay, so let’s talk about a freight train
example, and this is from a Canadian freight rail company. Lower latency
matters when you are trying to send information to and from a train. So here’s
an example of what I would suggest latency really matters, we’ll do some
kind of thought experiment. So you have a freight train weighing about
3 million kilograms, okay? It’s going down a 2% gradient,
that would be fairly common. It’s going 96 kilometers per hour, 60
miles per hour. That’s, I think, the speed limit for a class four rail.
Okay? And I know there are other forces at work, friction and drag and so forth, but
just holding those aside for a second. Think about this freight train that’s
fundamentally representative of about 13,200 kilonewtons of force, okay? So how
much is a kilonewton? If any of you have a carabiner on your
keychains, a climbing carabiner, you’ll see a little K and a note there. A
kilonewton is about 225 pounds of force for our nonmetric audience. So 13,200
kilonewtons is a lot of force. In fact, the space shuttle rocket had two
boosters that each did about 12,500 kilonewtons. So that freight train is
creating about…so basically an engineer who’s trying to slow that freight train
down is trying to slow down half of the space shuttle rocket, right? So that’s a
lot of force, right? And so how do you do that? Well, did you know that the way that
you do that is the freight train fundamentally needs to receive a breaking
algorithm. So the engineer will receive a file that says, “Hey, here’s how to
break.” And I don’t know all the technical sort of math further on behind how that
train breaks, whether it’s just the engine or whether there are breaks on subsequent
cars. But the point is that if you are an engineer in charge of a freight train that
was basically half of a space shuttle in terms of power, you would want a really
reliable, really quick connection. And so this is a case where latency
really, really matters. Because you are going down a hill with a
rocket, essentially, and you need to stop. So in this particular case is a very
specialized LTE device that’s used. It’s very specialized, very expensive.
But this is using the public LTE networks today.
Okay, so let me just conclude. I know we said we’d leave some time for Q&A
and I think we’re on pretty good track to do that. So bringing it back to the
original analogy we used, thinking about the future, do you plan to drive on the
freeway or the shoulders. Okay? So if you or your customers or your partners are
freeway type application folks, okay? You need to be thinking about high-performance
CPE. It may not be best to have the first LTE-Advanced cellular router,
for example. It may be best to have the most powerful LTE-Advanced router in order
to take advantage of LTE-Cat 9, for example, or for future advances in that
network. You wanna look for solutions from vendors who provide visibility into link
quality. There’s some interesting improvements in link quality analysis that
you can do in terms of metrics, latency, packet loss. Look for those kinds of
solutions. And then, just because we’re reiterating what Brent had said,
if you’re driving on the shoulders, okay? If you’re in the Cat 1,
M1, narrow band IoT sort of application set, you need flexible power options.
Because it may be power-sensitive or it may not be. And you need the ability
to manage that power setup. You need the machine language supports. So do I support
Modbus wired hard, a simple, say, RS45 or something. And then finally you want to
look for vendors with apps that support new field use scenarios premise.
Talking about installing tank level sensing on discreet tanks versus mesh
networking back to a gateway. That’s fine for a company to develop solutions that
can do that, but have they gone the next step and then created configuration
provisioning apps to support that? So, Robin, those are all the slides that we
wanted to cover and I suppose we could open it up for some questions now.
– That’s great, thanks very much. Okay, so we’ll move over to some questions.
We’ve got quite a few questions in. But if you can send any that you have now,
then we’ll aim to respond to those as soon as we can. Initially,
so you mentioned new applications in that last slide, in fact,
new applications in support of field use scenarios. Do you have any
examples of that? – Yeah, we do. Brent, I was wondering if
you would just talk a little bit about the kind of sensor and the app
we’ve built for that. – Yeah. So I think what the app
you’re…so there’s a bit when you do these industrial IoT
applications, you need the data remotely, but you also occasionally need it locally.
And when we mentioned the app, we were talking about some new
capabilities of pairing a mobile app over Bluetooth to talk to these industrial
devices for the technician who’s on site versus potentially the system engineer
who’s remote. And they will typically need different information, they need it at
different times, and there’s potentially different permissions and security levels
for each of those people. So pairing a Bluetooth application for
local use versus a cellular for remote access to that data really gives you a
powerful platform in that. – That’s great. Okay, yeah. All right.
Well, then the next question is…there have been a few questions comparing
different, or trying to compare, trying to understand the difference in
data rate between different Cat levels. So I don’t know if you can say something
about that, but specifically how does LTE-Cat 1 compare with Cat M and the IoT?
– Sure, I can take that. So LTE-Cat 1 is available now. LTE-Cat 1 is essentially 3G
type of speed, it’s a scale down from typical LTE. It does not have the power
saving modes that you will get in the two narrow band standards that I mentioned,
but it does bring down the cost of the module significantly. So I view LTE 1,
which again is available now, as kind of the first time you could put LTE in a
machine-to-machine product and not price yourself out of the market because you
really didn’t need LTE. LTE-Cat M then drops down to 2G speeds,
and that’s where you start seeing the power saving modes. And narrow band IoT is
sub-2G speeds, it’s sub-100 kilobytes per second, and an increased battery life.
So that’s kind of the progression of the different networks.
– Okay. So another question here, does NB-IoT include a paging facility,
so where the network wakes up the sleeping devices by sending paging messages or
something similar? – It does. I don’t know if I’d call it
paging. But when you go into what’s called the discontinuous reception mode each one
of the two is going to wake up… I think for Cat M1 it’s like every 5
seconds, for NB it’s 10 seconds. And it’s going to check for traffic.
In between those times it’s typically unreachable because you’re off, you’re not
listening to traffic from a module perspective. So the paging would be when
it wakes up and looks for data on one of those received channels.
– Right, okay. And what’s your view about adoption of Cat M1 versus NB-IoT by
service providers in North America and globally, considering both technically and
business-wise which one of the chip vendors more keen upon?
I think you covered that to some extent in looking at the different regions
and the different mobile operators. – Yeah. In the U. S. it’s definitely going
to be Cat M first. It’s unclear when will narrow band IoT follow, will it follow.
Globally outside of the U.S. the carriers seem to be driving more
towards narrow band IoT, definitely in Europe with Vodafone.
The same with Australia and Asia, they seem to be driving more towards the
NB-IoT. And does that mean that they will eventually do Cat M or they skip
that entirely? I don’t know. – Would you say there’s a particular
reason for one adopting Cat M and one adopting NB-IoT? Is there a sort of
different view about the types of applications that are going to be
required? Or is there a particular reason for that that you’re aware of?
– No, I think each carrier is kind of making their own decision,
they have different reasons for doing it. The Cat M is probably a little better and
easier adoption based on what’s out there in the market today or what’s deployed on
towers with LTE than, say, with narrow band IoT. I think it mainly looks more at
the use cases they’re looking at. I think a lot of people think that narrow band IoT
will greatly expand the number of battery-powered devices out there because
it is so low-power and so low-cost. – Do you think that it’s going to be
possible to put LTE M and NB-IoT into the same module?
– Yeah, I think you would be able to do it in the same module,
it’s more a question of how many different bands would you have to support based on
your global coverage. – I see. Yeah, okay, all right. And then
have the carriers provided any information on pricing plans, use parameters,
and so forth? – From my perspective I haven’t seen a ton
of things locked in stone yet. Andrew, I don’t know if you’ve…
– It seems to be talked about quite a bit. And it escapes me now,
I thought that we had seen something circulating from AT&T, but it’s nothing
that’s publically sort of promoted that I’ve seen.
– No, that’s fine, that’s fine. Okay. So there’s one here that I think is looking
to understand how it actually works in intelligence terms. So where will the IoT
intelligence, i.e.the application, typically reside in the LPWAN market,
inside or outside the narrow band-centered device, or both? I think this is just
trying to understand how it works at a low data rate.
– So in general, it’s always going to depend on the use case, as you get lower
and lower power, you’ve got lower and lower processing. So you’ve got typically
less intelligence on the edge and more intelligence in the cloud.
It’s all about getting the data up to the cloud as inexpensively as possible.
Andrew, I don’t know if you… – No, I was going to say the same thing. I
think the other notion to bring up in terms of where the intelligence is would
be to take a security angle on it. Given that there may be limited power,
limited processing, limited memory on the edge, I think there’s also the notion that
there’s limited ability to defend against security threats, potentially. And so,
like you said, getting the data to the cloud in a safe and reliable way is the
most important thing. I know we talk a lot about intelligence at the edge and you
hear a lot about that, but we’ll have to see. And, like I said, it depends
on the application. – Okay. Okay. A very quick one, what is a
PRL update? – Oh. What is it, Brent,
preferred roaming list? – Yeah.
– Yeah. – Yeah it’s essentially telling the module
who the roaming partners are. – Okay, all right. And when do you expect
Cat M or NB-IoT to be more or less ubiquitous? “When do you expect it to
really take off?,” I think is probably a better way to say that.
– Brent, you’re closer, you should comment on that.
– Yeah, I can comment on that. So I’m going to give you the Digi answer,
which maybe is not the answer you get if you talk to a carrier.
I think it’s going to start to really take off late this year.
The carriers are going to have a lot more…at least in the U.S.
the carriers are going to have a lot of networks up, they’re going to be promoting
a lot. But when you think of the chain of events that have to happen to
really…what you consider ubiquity, from my perspective, the network has to be live
and you got to have devices you can use on it. And you think that the network has to
go live first, then the module vendors have to go through their certification,
and then the device vendors have to go through their certification.
So there’s kind of a two to three-month lag each step along the way.
So I would be surprised if we would really see a massive rollout before maybe late
this year, even though the carriers will likely advertise their networks are going
to be live before that. – All right, okay. And then talking a bit
about battery life here. The 5- to 10-year battery life for M1 or
NB-IoT, is that just the radio or the end application, like a sensor reading every
10 minutes? I think a little bit more explanation about what that is, that
battery life, what that covers, would be helpful.
– Yeah. So everything is relative on that, it’s how often you’re reporting.
I use that as one of our products, the Connect Sensor. Typical use of that is
reading data 10 to 20 times a day and reporting that data 1 to 2 times a day,
and that’s going to give you about a 2 to 3-year battery life.
If we look at that same use case and swap out only the cell module and move that to
a Cat M and then eventually to a narrow band IoT, that’s a relative battery life
improvement you would see with that use case. But I know with that product we see
customers who are reporting 24 times a day. Well, they’re going to be more on the
six to nine months battery life. And others that are extending it out over a
few weeks and they might see five to seven years on their current LTE technology.
So it’s all relative based on how you use the product.
– Okay. Interesting one here. Will these new Cat M and NB-IoT use
regular SIM cards? – Yes, although I think you’ll see more of
a move…when you say “regular SIM card,” you’ll see much more of a move to the
embedded SIMs as we go forwarded. I guess I’m not 100% positive of how the
technology will support that, but I know generally in the market you’ll
see more and more moves to embedded SIMs versus the standard kind of SIM that shows
up in a credit card format. – Okay, all right. Yeah, and personally I
think that there will be much more use of embedded SIM, as you say, with these
because it’s more automated that way. But let’s see how that pans out. Do the
current M2M management platforms need to be upgraded to work with these
new technologies? – Yeah, that’s a good question.
I’ll give a take on that, Brent, and you can chime in. It seems to me that
there will be…so “upgraded” can mean a lot of different things. But it seems to
me that to the extent that a new LPWA technology provides insight into what’s
going on at the network level, at the physical level in terms of, I
mentioned earlier, RF quality, packet loss latency, so forth. If there’s
something interesting that LPWAN technology can tell a management platform
about what’s going on in the field, then that management platform would need
to be upgraded to take full advantage of that. That’s how I would approach that.
What would you say, Brent? – Yeah, I think the biggest… I agree
with what you said. I think it’s a…the management platforms understand that these
devices are not always reachable. And things like timeouts where I didn’t
get a response versus in this amount of time, when you get to those lower power,
higher latency devices that might break your system. And we see that as we look at
our router products which are connected all the time versus our battery-powered
IoT products which connect very rarely. The management platforms can handle it,
but sometimes the mentality of the user can’t because they expect things to be
connected all the time, and that’s just not going to be the case
with the battery IoT products. And that might be the case with certain,
even like SCADA systems that expect the device to be connected all the time.
And if it’s not, they error out. So I can see some updates required in
those type of systems. – Okay. And you briefly mentioned
unlicensed band alternatives, SigFox and LoRa. What feature do you see
versus Cat M1 in the U.S.? – Yeah, I know, Brent, you’re closer to
SigFox, why don’t you comment on that? – Yeah, I think Robin and I did a webinar
just previously with SigFox, as well. So SigFox is a different
standard, it’s really extreme. When I say low cost for Cat M and narrow
band IoT, that’s really relative to what LTE has been in the past. SigFox is really
an extreme case of low cost. And there’s additional tradeoffs with
that, that I believe that most of the data is unidirectional, you’re extremely low
byte rates as far as transmitting. So there’s definitely use cases from an
ROI perspective and SigFox can support that cellular never really could. I don’t
really see those two as competitors. LoRa does kind of tread into the same
space as especially maybe the NB-IoT. I’m not a LoRa expert by any means, I just
see it from a very high level. But those do become somewhat competing
standards as far as the capabilities that they provide.
– So you would see SigFox as being pretty much complementary to Cat M1?
– Yeah, I could see those being complementary. And then they can also
exist on their own, too. There’s use cases for monitoring where you need an
extremely, extremely low cost per asset point that SigFox can meet that no LTE
standard could. – Okay, all right. Well, we’re almost out
of time now. So before we go I’d like to thank our audience for joining us, we
really appreciate the time you spent with us. And now I’d like to hand back to David
at the M2M Zone for some further announcements. Thank you.
– Yes, on behalf of the M2M Zone, thank you, Robin, Andrew, and Brent.
And thank you all for joining us today. A recording of today’s webinar will be
available within 48 hours on hour website, Just watch for your
post-event e-mail, which will include a link to the web page.
Thank you, everyone.

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