Weightless technologies, of which there are currently two variants, are wireless connectivity specifications for low power, wide area networks specifically designed for the Internet of Things. Current standards operate in sub-1GHz licence exempt spectrum.
The Weightless SIG is a non-profit global standards organisation formed to coordinate the activities needed to deliver Weightless standards. These activities include:
- Develop open standards for Weightless
- Manage ongoing evolution and upgrades to standards
- Administer the IPR policy
- Manage legal disputes
- Promotion of the technologies
- Manage testing, certification and licensing of the technologies
Long range connectivity
Conventionally M2M solutions have been developed around GSM based connectivity technologies but for most applications these 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. GSM based networks are often ill-suited to the short message sizes typical in IoT use cases. 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.
Short range connectivity
Several short-range technologies, notably Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee, offer endpoints at low price points – around $1-2. 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. Neither do they permit the economies afforded by much larger cell sizes with few base stations covering large areas such as whole cities.
Low Power, wide area network connectivity
Low power, wide area network (LPWAN) connectivity offers the long range capability of GSM based technologies with the low cost and power consumption characteristics of LAN/PAN.
It is critical that the technology is an open global standard rather than a proprietary technology in order to guarantee low cost and low risk, and to maximize user choice and ongoing innovation. A vibrant eco-system delivering terminals, base stations, networks, applications supports a wide range of IoT use cases. Weightless is an LPWAN technology Open Standard enabling long range, long battery life and ultra low cost IoT products to be deployed rapidly and economically around the world.
One mission, two technologies…
The Weightless-W Standard defines a technology designed to operate in TVWS spectrum and was completed in early 2013. The Weightless-N Standard defines a technology designed to operate in ISM spectrum and was completed in early 2015. Development of a third Weightless Standard will be announced shortly – register for advance details.