Speaking up for M2M radio innovation

January 30, 2012 // By Peter Clarke
Luke D'Arcy, vice president of marketing at Neul Ltd., (Cambridge, England), has been in touch to argue that in general standards bodies are not addressing the need for innovation at the RF level for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Neul is a startup company working on the use of so-called TV white-space spectrum for machine-to-machine communications and has proposed a radio standard to do that.

European standards body ETSI recently announced that seven standards developments organizations have agreed to work together on common global standards for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. However, the initial focus of that group is to be on the application and service layers, the implication being that M2M communications will be mainly carried on established wireless channels such ZigBee, Wi-Fi and 2, 3, and 4G.

Neul's proposal is that radio communications dedicated to M2M and IoT be opened up in the spectrum used for digital television broadcasts. That is not to say that some M2M/IoT cannot be implemented across established channels, but not always.

"Something more is needed," D'Arcy said, arguing that some applications would need low-cost, minimal-overhead radio channels but available in wide area networks, as addressed by the Weightless white-space radio proposals.

"We need the cost of ZigBee and the ease of use of wide area," D'Arcy said, adding: "Some applications, like smart meters, medical device hubs, don't need all the hierarchy present in GSM and CDMA."

Neul opened up its own Weightless proposal to industry participation in September 2011. Several working groups have been set up to refine and ratify various technical aspects of the standard, D'Arcy said. Version 1.0 of Weightless is expected before the end of the third quarter of 2012.