LTE & Ericsson to enable IoT for tiny devices


The Consumer Electronics Show 2016 is currently underway in Las Vegas. The tradeshow boasts of around 3200 exhibitors. Ericsson is one of the exhibitors and it announced that it has developed cellular network software that may help small, battery-powered devices like smartwatches and pet trackers get online and work longer without a recharge in a few years.

The software known as Ericsson Networks Software 17A for Massive IoT, has features for connecting the smallest of devices without making them use up too much power. Many of those will be meters and machines for cities and companies, but some could be long-lasting wearables and consumer gadgets of the future. Cellular networks were built to give smartphones as much speed as possible. Now they’re being adapted to tap data to and from new kinds of things. Those could include street lights and parking meters, industrial machinery, and various consumer gadgets like clip-on devices that tell you where your stuff is.

Anything that doesn’t require a lot of connections to the network or a lot of data, but you don’t want to be changing the battery very often” said Peter Jarich, analyst of Current Analysis.

The company further said that a variant of LTE known as NB-IoT (narrowband Internet of Things), can be deployed on current networks as a software upgrade. It will let millions of IoT devices connect to the same cell, far more than today’s base stations can serve. And along with features in Ericsson’s upcoming software, it will let devices work for 10 years on a battery.

NB-IoT is up against competing systems from specialist low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) companies like SigFox and Ingenu. They’re already in use, while the cellular industry is still trying to turn NB-IoT into a standard. The competition should help to get cell companies on the ball about building good IoT networks, analysts say. They don’t expect it to be finished for at least a year.

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