Weightless - a game changer

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Conventionally M2M solutions have been developed around cellular technologies but for most applications they are not optimal. GPRS, 3G and LTE technologies provide sufficient coverage for most applications but terminal hardware costs are tens of dollars rather than the one or two dollar price point. Subscription costs are high rather than a few dollars per year. Battery life cannot be extended much beyond a month. Cellular networks are often ill-suited to the short message sizes in machine communications. Significant overheads associated with signaling in order to move terminals from passive to active states, report on status and more lead to highly inefficient networks. So while legacy telephony based technologies can capture a small percentage of the market which can tolerate the high costs and where devices have external power, it cannot meet the requirements of the majority of use cases.

There are many short-range technologies that come closer to the price points. These include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and others. However, being short range these cannot provide the coverage needed for applications such as automotive, sensors, asset tracking, healthcare and many more. Instead, they are restricted to machines connected within the home or office environments. Short range technologies are not the solution.

Finally, it is critical that the technology is an open global standard rather than a proprietary technology. A vibrant eco-system delivering terminals, base stations, networks, applications and more is needed to support a wide range of IoT use cases.

Weightless is a low power, wide area network technology standard. It enables long range, long battery life and ultra low cost IoT products to be deployed rapidly and economically around the world.

 

One mission, two technologies…

Weightless technology is designed to operate in multiple licensed and licence exempt frequency spectrums. In particular it is available in two variants – Weightless-W and Weightless-N.

 

The Weightless-W specification, designed to operate in TVWS spectrum was completed in early 2013. Weightless-N, designed to operate in ISM spectrum, is under development now and will be complete in early 2015.

 

Both variants of the specification deliver the three core benefits of Weightless technology – ultra low cost, ultra low power consumption and excellent signal propagation. Weightless-W, in TVWS spectrum, offers very large connectivity capacity but commercial deployment is not yet available in all countries due to communications regulation lagging shared spectrum access technology development. Weightless-N has sufficient connectivity capacity for most IoT/M2M use cases and, operating in free and licence exempt ISM spectrum, can be commercially deployed immediately.

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