How LPWA and 5G play a key role in IoT
Source: William Pao, a&s International
Needless to say, the internet of things (IoT) has become a global phenomenon. Among the popular IoT protocols, LPWA
cover long distances and are expected to drive IoT in various applications, from smart factory to smart city..
Globally, the internet of things has gained importance and popularity, with connected devices generating data that provides insights for end users seeking to secure premises, gain business intelligence, achieve operational efficiency and save energy. In fact, according to Gartner, IoT is growing at such an exponential rate the number of endpoint devices will grow to 5.8 billion in 2020, a 21 percent increase from 2019.
Currently, various IoT protocols exist, varying by power consumption and transmission distance. For example Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, NFC and Zigbee
all transmit over short distances; Wi-Fi, meanwhile, contrasts the others with higher power consumption.
On the other side of the spectrum are long-distance technologies
that suit IoT deployments in smart city and smart transportation applications, for example. Two protocols under this category are low-power wide-area (LPWA) and 5G, both gaining momentum and seeing commercial and trial deployments in various countries, including Japan, said Yoshinori Ohmura, Director of Land Mobile Communications Group at the country’s Association of Radio Industries and Businesses
According to Ohmura, the two primary LPWA technologies are NB-IoT and LTE-M, both expecting explosive growth. “It is expected by 2022, there will be 690 million connected LTE-M and NB-IoT devices worldwide,” he said. “There are only 42 million in 2019.”
LPWA suits well in the age of IoT, where low-power devices such as parking sensors can send small packets of data over a long distance. In fact, use cases of LTE-M are seen in Japan already, said Ohmura, who cited the example of KDDI, which has begun providing Japan’s first domestic cellular LPWA telecommunication service as well as “KDDI IoT cloud device management,” a tool for remotely managing IoT devices.
As for 5G, its benefits include ultra-high speed and ultra-low latency, Ohmura said. “5G allows broadband services 100 times faster than current mobile communication systems,” he said. “In term of low latency, robots, for example, can be operated and controlled in real time without the user’s awareness of delay time.”
According to him, 5G IoT has applications in various fields. In healthcare, patients with CCTV and wearables can leverage telemedicine solutions and discuss their situations with the doctor who can monitor the patients’ vital signs. In video surveillance and TV broadcasting, ultra-high definition (UHD) video such as 4K and even 8K can be transmitted from one place to another without minimal delay. In smart factory, 5G can benefit machine vision where high-definition video of products can be transmitted instantly for inspection. In fact, Japan’s Ministry of Internet Affairs and Communications have since 2017 started 5G field trials in Tokyo and certain local areas, Ohmura said.
The importance of standardization
Ohmura’s association, ARIB, is a Japanese standardization body that standardizes new radio systems which support socioeconomic development, such as telecommunications and broadcasting. According to ARIB’s website, in addition to the compulsory regulations, ARIB standards are specified as voluntary standards for radio systems in order to guarantee compatibility of radio facilities and transmission quality as well as offering greater convenience to radio equipment manufacturers and users.
“The importance and goals of standardization are manifold. These include to promote efficient use of frequency and prevent interference; to produce radio equipment cost-effectively; to ensure suitable quality; to guarantee compatibility of radio equipment; and to supply the market with various radio equipment by domestic and foreign companies,” Ohmura said.