Still wondering if smart connected things are real? Wait no more. On March 31, 2017, Verizon with 2016 revenue of $126 billion officially launched a nationwide commercial 4G LTE Category M1 (or Cat M1) network. With 2.4 million square-mile coverage, this infrastructure will propel adoption of IoT including smart sensors. Depends on the applications, pricing can be as low as $2 per month per device. Verizon’s ecosystem includes manufacturers of chipsets, modules and devices – Qualcomm Technologies, Sequans, Telit, U-Blox, Sierra Wireless, Gemalto, Altair and others.
by John W. Koon, Editor-in-Chief
How big is the LPWAN market? According to Berg Insight, a Sweden-based market research firm, the shipment of global cellular IoT devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.7% to reach 530 million units while non-cellular Low Power WAN (LPWA) including LoRa and Sigfox will grow from13.5 million units to 50-100 million in 2022. “LTE-M and NB-IoT are the latest in a long line of cellular standards already connecting hundreds of millions of devices worldwide”, says Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst and author of the report, “Alternative non-cellular LPWA technologies have a very long way to go before they achieve the same prominence.” www.berginsight.com.
For now, Verizon is the leader of the LPWAN game. In additional to the M1 roll-out, Verizon would help facilitate the development of IoT with a platform called ThingSpace which enables developers to create Cat M1 devices to have secured end-to-end connections. According to Verizon, ThingSpace is used by about 14,000 developers worldwide. With global agreements of mutual connectivity in more than 175 countries. These vast international networks support IoT applications like asset management, industrial automation, wearables, smart city technologies and consumer electronics.
The most powerful partner is Qualcomm who is the leader in 3G and 4G LTE cellular chipsets with over one billion devices shipped using its chips. Qualcomm’s vision is to continue that leadership with NB-5G solutions in the future. In 2015, Qualcomm introduced the MDM9206, a multimode silicon which supports Cat M1, Cat NB1 and EGPR making it useable in almost every part of the world.
The initial roll-out of the MDM9206 modem supports LTE category M1 (eMTC). Today Qualcomm is shipping the dual-mode silicon which supports both M1 and NB-1. With software update the early version can be configured to support the dual mode operation. MDM9206 helps make the LPWAN requirements of low-cost, low-power and low-bandwidth a reality.
“Thanks to the improved building blocks for IoT solutions, every facet of our world is becoming connected,” said Mike Lanman, senior vice president, IoT and enterprise products, Verizon. “By utilizing solutions including Qualcomm Technologies’ MDM9206 modem, which is integrated with IoT platforms like Verizon’s ThingSpace, we can accelerate the delivery of connected services specifically tailored for rapidly growing markets like smart metering for utilities including electric, gas and water.”
London-based Telit, partner of Verizon and Qualcomm, has launched the ME910C1-NV, the first LTE Category M1 (Cat M1) module based on Qualcomm’s MDM9206 multimode modem to receive the Verizon certification. It also supports Verizon’s ThingSpace platform.
Sequans Communications, a France-based 4G LTE chipmaker, has also introduced the Monarch LTE Cat M1/NB1 chips. At least four devices using this chip have been certified for Verizon’s Cat M1 network. They are Link Labs’ Cat M1 Sensor Suite, Encore Networks’ Cat M1 Router, Nimbelink’s Skywire Cat M1 modem (Figure 3) and Gemalto’s Cinterion EMS31 Cat M1 module. There are plenty of selections for the Verizon M1 network.
To further understand the momentum of the Cellular IoT market, RTC Magazine asked two other Verizon partners to share their thoughts on this historical M1 launch.
fig 1: Operators around the world including Verizon and ATT in America, Telefonica and Orange in Europe and NTT DoCoMo in Japan start to adopt M1 in their networks. “We provide support to global operators to accelerate the adoption of LTE M1/NB1 worldwide with our dual-mode solutions,” commented Peter Carson, Senior Director of Marketing, Qualcomm.
fig 2: London-based Telit, partner of Verizon and Qualcomm, has launched the ME910C1-NV, the first LTE Category M1 (Cat M1) module based on Qualcomm’s MDM9206 multimode modem to receive the Verizon certification. It also supports Verizon’s ThingSpace platform.
fig 3: Nimbelink’s Skywire Cat M1 modem is a complete pre-certified modem solution which helps OEM reduce the time-to-market and save the cost of certification according to Ven Dixit, Marketing Manager of Nimbelink.