The Machine communications (M2M) sector has had the potential for massive growth for a number of years. For decades industry leaders have been aware of the countless benefits that installation of wireless connections into a myriad of devices could bring. A vast range of applications such as cars, sensors, traffic lights, healthcare and many others have been suggested as target markets.
Most recent forecasts are for 50 billion connected devices by 2020, which is not unrealistic when this equates to ten devices per person. Many consumers already possess more than ten wirelessly enabled devices in their home.
In recent years, the market for machine communications has been weak. Some cars are fitted with embedded cellular modems, and only relatively high-value vending machines are equipped with cellular packet-data modems. The market today is a small percentage of what it is predicted to grow. The fundamental reason for this is the absence of a ubiquitous wireless standard that meets the needs of the majority of the machine market.
The M2M communications sector requires the following:
- Low cost hardware and service. Chipset costs need to be in the region $1-$2 and annual service charges less than $10 to make embedding wireless technology in such devices worthwhile.
- Excellent coverage. Coverage needs to be near 100% to make applications such as smart metering viable.
- Ultra low-power operations. Battery life of at least ten years is essential as machines that are not connected to the mains rely on batteries.
- Secure and guaranteed message delivery. While machines rarely need ultra rapid transmission, the security of the system must remain uncompromised so messages can be received safely.
No current wireless system comes close to meeting all of these requirements.
Cellular technologies provide sufficiently good coverage for some applications, but hardware costs can be in excess of $20 and subscription costs are closer to $10 a month, rather than $10 a year. Current battery life cannot be extended much beyond a few months. Cellular networks are often no equipped to accommodate the short message sizes in machine communications.
There is a need for a new technology – Weightless.
It is critical Weightless is an open global standard rather than a proprietary technology.
For a wide range of applications, a vibrant eco-system delivering chips, terminals, base stations, applications and more, needs to exist. For example, a temperature sensor device manufacturer needs to be confident the chips procured from multiple sources will interoperate with any wireless network across the globe.
Forecasts for connected machines have been continually optimistic throughout the years. When Weightless – a fully compliant and regulated wide area machine communications network – is standardised and widely available, there will no longer be any major barriers to serving the market.
Further Reading: Weightless - A Game Changer
- BT Adopts Weightless Technology
15 Jan 2014
- The Weight is over, Weightless hardware roadmap announced
23 Oct 2013
- Accenture joins Weightless SIG
24 Sep 2013
- 1000th Weightless SIG Member joins community
26 Aug 2013
- World's First Public Televised Demonstration of Weightless Technology
2 Jul 2013
- Weightless Announces Flagship Event Programme
28 May 2013
- The Weight is over, v1.0 of Weightless Specification is here
2 Apr 2013
- Weightless M2M Standards Group passes 600 Members
11 Mar 2013
- Weightless Specification Silicon for M2M launches
12 Feb 2013
- Weightless wins Wireless Innovation Forum’s prestigious Award
18 Jan 2013
- How LTE helped improve white space access
October 17, 2013 | Read full post
- Smart metering in the UK, the case of the oil tanker that couldn’t turn
September 28, 2013 | Read full post
- Ofcom’s co-existence consultation
September 12, 2013 | Read full post