IoT Technology

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things is a blanket term that refers to the sharing of data between a network of electronic devices for the purposes of recording, reporting, and decision making.

In practice, IoT networks are most often developed by the implementation of a wireless data network that is used to connect thousands of sensors, meters, and controllers. These devices then connect to a central information system which uses these real-world inputs and outputs to power decision making and automate processes.

Wireless telemetry and Machine-to-Machine technologies were adopted early by businesses that could see the value in data. Early SCADA systems were used to power Industrial Control Systems, automating many manual tasks such as reading meters and recording values.

From simple beginnings M2M has sophisticated to a point where it is almost synonymous with the Internet of Things, an association which is likely to strengthen further. IoT is becoming an increasingly prominent technology that has the potential, and is already making steps towards, radically altering our world like almost no other wireless technology that is currently undergoing commercial development.

Interconnected australia IoT

Facilitating Machine Communication

Machine-to-machine communication can generally be categorised into one of two use-cases;

  1. Infrequent communications of small transmission size. Examples might include; household electrical meters reporting monthly usage, parking loT sensors indicating occupied status.
  2. Sustained communications of intermediate transmission size, for example, vehicles reporting live speed and traffic metrics.

Most competing IoT protocols meet one of the two needs, and most operators choose to deploy one of each network type. The most prominent IoT technology is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), a technology designed for infrequent, small transmissions, and deployed over a mobile operator's existing cellular network. Operators who implement NB-IoT usually meet the requirement for larger transmissions by also upgrading their existing cellular network to support LTE-M device categories, or may choose to implement a dedicated LTE-M Cat-M1 (eMTC) carrier.

Many European and Central Asian operators have elected to build a national LoRa network as opposed to deploying NB-IoT. This can be due to limited low-band spectrum availability, technical hurdles, or simply that LoRa had already attained a larger ecosystem of users and devices in their geographic region.

LTE-M is a type of LTE network published by 3GPP in Releases 13 to 15 specifications. LTE-M is a low power wide area technology which supports IoT through lower device complexity and provides extended coverage, leveraging a mobile operator's existing LTE base stations. LTE-M finds its place as a (comparatively) high data rate service for more data-hungry IoT applications.

LoRa® is a proprietary physical layer wireless protocol developed by US semiconductor corporation Semtech, designed to facilitate low power, low data rate communications in the unlicensed ISM bands between 137 and 1020 MHz.

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a 3GPP Release 13 feature that reuses various principles and building blocks of the LTE physical layer and higher protocol layers and defines a new Cat-NB1 UE.

Sigfox is an end-to-end network technology, licensed to a local operator who deploys Sigfox radio access infrastructure on an unlicensed ISM frequency in the host country. The result is one global network using one standard, managed by local operators.