Every technology has its own lifetime cycle. The same goes for network technologies. At this time there are multiple countries where 2G has been fully replaced. This will eventually happen in Europe as well. Therefore, investing in hardware that exclusively makes use of 2G is not the best long-term purchase. The measure of dependence on the 2G network varies per country; in the Netherlands there are many critical applications that still make use of it. This makes replacing this technology a lot more complicated. Despite this, it is a good practice to look towards new network technologies that are both safer and more IoT friendly when implementing new applications. LTE-M is the replacement for 2G and will be introduced in the Netherlands in 2018. Every country will have different available technologies and network technology implementation timeframes, for which we can provide an overview if needed. Additionally, LoRa could be a potential solution as a replacement for 2G in your application.
About IoT networks
There are many mobile network technologies possible that allow devices to connect to the internet or a back-end server. Some typical examples are renowned technologies like GSM/2G (GPRS), 3G and 4G (LTE). But in the last few years, new technologies have been added such as LoRa, Sigfox and NB-IoT. Additionally, these days the LTE-M technology is being implemented in order to replace 2G, and 2018 will see the introduction of 5G in the USA. Older technologies will slowly be replaced by improved or even unique alternatives. But which technology will best fit your own proposition? With all the possibilities, making a decision is not easy. Luckily, Sim Services is happy to assist you in your choice.
When it comes to functionality and bandwidth, LTE-M is comparable to 2G. It is based on the LTE-network (the well-known 4G technologies), but specifically meant for IoT applications. The LTE-M technology is a stripped-down version of this LTE technology in which functions that require a large bandwidth amount are not available. The efficiency, low latency, large coverage, and low energy use are typical characteristics of LTE-M technologies and merely for this it is an improvement over 2G. To make use of LTE-M, specific hardware requirements are needed in order to ensure your device can receive the LTE-M frequency. Sim Services will gladly help you prepare for making use of LTE-M.
LoRa is a type of technology that’s been optimized for IoT. There are significant differences compared to mobile networks like 2G and 4G; for one, LoRa is not based on having a sim card in a device and it makes use of a separate frequency (868MHz). However, like the regular mobile networks, it is also a Wide Area Network. LoRa is meant to send small data packages, for example a sensor that only needs to send out a signal when something is turned on or off. In cases like this, the traffic consists of mere bits and bytes. Another attribute of LoRa is how little energy is needed to communicate, which makes it much easier to keep devices going for a longer time on its own battery. Using LoRa, a device can last for years on just one button cell battery. Globally, various providers already offer a country-wide LoRa coverage network. However, the 868MHz frequency is not licensed, making it possible to set up your own managed network. Kusasa,the LoRa initiative from Sim Services, is meant to help you make use of this network technology.
From 2G to LoRa or LTE-M
LoRa is mainly suitable for applications in which many functionalities are related to 2G, like the needed bandwidth. Additionally, devices making use of LoRa use up very little power, allowing them to last for years on a single button cell battery. But when more speed and capacity are needed, the LTE-M technology will be a better match. The initial data usage in your application might be quite small and seemingly a perfect fit for LoRa, but it is possible that regular over-the-air firmware updates are needed on your device, and this will make LTE-M a more suitable solution. An advantage of LoRa is that the technology makes it possible to deduce the physical location of the device, without making use of GPS applications. Do note, however, that this type of location information is less accurate than actual GPS technology.
Speeds of up to 10 Gigabit and ‘zero’ latency, that’s what 5G makes possible. Besides allowing an anormous bandwidth amount that easily allows streaming high resolution video, 5G technology also offers a minimal delay in communications. This allows for applications like self-driving vehicles that can communicate with each other or other traffic systems such as traffic lights. 5G will be made available in the USA in 2018, it is still unclear when this network technology will be made available in Europe.
What kind of impact will the discontinuation of 2G have on your business? What are the opportunities for you that are offered by LoRa, LTE-M or 5G?