Ericsson and Orange have completed one of the world’s first live trials of extended coverage GSM technology for the Internet of Things (EC-GSM-IoT).
The trial, which sought to demonstrate how existing GSM networks could be used for low-power, wide area (LPWA) IoT applications, was also carried out with Intel in Paris from November 2015 to February 2016.
Ericsson said the Paris trial, which used the 900MHz band on the Orange network, showed EC-GSM-IoT technology can be activated by deploying new software on existing GSM infrastructure. IoT applications can coexist with legacy mobile devices on the same network technology in the same spectrum, it said.
Network coverage was extended by 20dB beyond regular GSM boundaries during the trial, the company said. The coverage range of low-rate applications was effectively increased seven-fold in the trial.
Alain Maloberti, Senior Vice President of Orange Labs Networks, said: “The results of this trial represent a significant step forward for the industry. It demonstrates the viability and cost effectiveness of the technology, and paves the way for us to help the IoT ecosystem develop.”
EC-GSM-IoT is considered to be an essential new IoT technology to reach challenging locations such as deep indoor basements, where many smart meters are installed, or remote areas in which sensors are deployed for agriculture or infrastructure monitoring use cases.
Asha Keddy, Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Next Generation and Standards Group, said: “Improved indoor coverage is key when it comes to IoT, so we are very pleased with the results achieved during the trial. We are in a position to help our customers meet their IoT solution requirements.”
Cellular networks optimised for IoT will be operational in 2017.
Among a tranche of announcements from Ericsson at MWC, the company also introduced a new ‘IoT Transformation’ suite, combing professional services and modular IoT solutions, to assist operators move beyond the provision of straight connectivity to become “enablers and creators” of IoT services.
Significant opportunities from IoT are available to operators if they switch their focus and expand their expertise, said Ericsson.
Ericsson reckons the number of IoT devices will more than triple to 15 billion by 2021. It also cited forecasts from research firms IDC and McKinsey that, respectively, put the global spending on IoT at US$1.3 trillion by 2019 and the annual economic impact of it at US$11 trillion by 2025.
However, it warned such opportunities will be lost on operators if they focus only on technologies and solutions, and fail to redefine their business processes and structures.
“IoT represents a very significant opportunity. By providing connectivity, operators can address approximately 15 per cent of the potential revenues on offer. But they can do more,” said Jean-Philippe Poirault, the company’s Head of Consulting and Systems Integration.
“We would like to help operators move higher up in the value chain to become IoT service enablers and service creators. They have the assets required to do so, and we have the capabilities and the expertise to help them complete the necessary transformation.”
Ericsson’s new IoT Transformation suite covers various aspects of operational change, including go-to-market strategy, process re-engineering and organisational restructuring, device and application verification, enterprise onboarding and solution integration, and application development and maintenance.