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Analyst reckons proprietary IoT wireless interfaces won't last

The GSMA is on the case, and carriers are listening

An analyst outfit is warning that the Internet of Insecure Junk Things industry's enthusiasm for proprietary protocols will come to an abrupt halt once standards bodies get their acts together.

ABI Research says the advent of key cellular industry standards – LTE Cat-M1, Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), and Extended Coverage GSM IoT, all being driven in the GSMA – will quickly make early proprietary solutions obsolete.

Those proprietary solutions include SIGFOX (which is currently on a global drive for network access), the LoRa Alliance, and Ingenu's RPMA (random phase, multiple access).

ABI Research's Nick Marshall reckons the proprietary low-power WAN offerings' days are numbered: “While LoRa, RPMA, and SIGFOX technologies account for almost three quarters of LPWANs today, there is significant traction in mobile network operator trials and planning for cellular LPWAN rollout.”

America's carriers are nearly ready to press “go” on their LTE Cat-M1 offerings, Marshall reckons, but ABI Research thinks there'll also be enthusiasm for NB-IoT.

Australia's incumbent, Telstra, is also on an LTE Cat-M1 push in the face of Thinxtra splashing AU$5 million to give local councils access to its SIGFOX network in Australia.

Last week the Australian carrier, Ericsson's favourite test-bed, showed off the low-speed LTE Cat-M1 down under, using a Qualcomm-based device operating in the 700 MHz band.

It's not often people tout low-speed solutions, but the advantage of running at just 375 Kbps (in half duplex mode using a single antenna) is that the backers of Cat-M1 reckon the IoT devices using the standard could get up to 10 years' battery life.

The Qualcomm chip used in the demo, the MDM9206, will be software-upgradeable to the coming LTE M1+ NB-1 mode, which cuts power (and comms capacity) even further. ®

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