The real potential of the Internet of Things lies not just in more points of connection, but in creating a new model for those connections.
Last month, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. introduced its Thing Coverage at the Global Mobile Broadband Forum as the first Internet of Things (IoT) network planning methodology. Ryan Ding, executive director and president of products and solutions at Huawei, delivered the keynote address in which he said that the paradigm shift to IoT connections entailed a move from a network-centric approach to an application-centric approach and from person-centric to thing-centric.
Fostering that paradigm shift calls for a systematic approach to planning mobile networks and coordinating connections throughout the IoT ecosystem. That’s the idea behind Huawei’s Things Coverage, which includes a systematic methodology and standards developed in conjunction with its mobile operator partners.
Things Coverage takes into account the five dimensional measurements of availability, bandwidth, coverage, delay sensitivity and energy efficiency and the different requirements for distinct categories of IoT applications. In this Telco Transformation Q&A, Jim Parker, director of small cells and IoT for Huawei Technologies USA, explained the dimensions, how they were developed and why a “glocal” mindset has to define alliances.
Telco Transformation: Is Things Coverage intended to provide standards that can serve as a guide for the entire IoT ecosystem, which includes service provider, device manufacturers and user? What went into coming up with the relevant benchmarks?
Jim Parker: Huawei developed wireless performance models for each IoT use case. The models were determined by the application requirements and took into account real-time versus. non-real-time status updates, throughput, coverage, latency and mobility. High-speed cellular IoT applications, such as video surveillance and vehicle-mounted multimedia, require high-speed, high-capacity and high levels of power as compared to low-speed applications such as smart meters, smart parking and asset tracking that require long battery life and ultra-low module pricing. The benchmarks were developed by Huawei with input from our global mobile operator partners such as Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, China Unicom and China Telecom.
TT: How essential is Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) to the advance of this paradigm shift?
JP: NB-IoT is essential as operators transition their wireless networks from being person-centric to thing-centric. NB-IoT is based on narrowband technology that provides better deep coverage penetration than other competing technologies (2G, 3G or 4G), which allows IoT deployments in underground basements or in pipe shafts.
TT: You classify IoT applications into three distinct categories: individual, industrial and public. Does each need its own standard for Things Coverage?
JP: Yes, IoT's diverse services have vastly different requirements for each category-- individual, industrial & public -- and use case. For example: Industrial IoT applications may require real-time control, low latency, etc. On the other hand, public IoT applications may require long battery life and low cost, while an Individual IoT application may require greater mobility.
TT: There is to be a new five-dimensional standard for measuring the connection experience of IoT-connected devices. Can you talk a bit about each one and how they all work together?
JP: The five dimensions are: availability, bandwidth, coverage, delay sensitivity and energy efficiency. These standards can then be used to define the requirements for different IoT applications such as smart meters, connected cars and industry control. The five dimensions include:
- Availability: Will the application require constant connectivity with the core network (such as an autonomous car) or will it only communicate with the network once a day (such as a smart meter)?
- Bandwidth: How much bandwidth the application requires with high-bandwidth applications as video surveillance and industrial laser sensors vs. low-bandwidth smart meter application?
- Coverage: Will the IoT application require communications with devices that are buried underground or deep within a building such as a smart meter, underground water sensor?
- Delay sensitivity: Measured as latency or time delay, for example autonomous cars and industrial robots require ultra-low latency for real-time data acquisition.
- Energy efficiency: Will the application need to be energy efficient, such as smart meters, where the battery will need to last ten years? Or is this an issue at all with something like connected cars where the device will be able to operate under its own power and not require long battery life?
The dimensions are used to define the IoT service level agreements for each application.
TT: Can you explain what Huawei means by the term "glocal" in context of alliances that are to form the basis of the IoT ecosystem?
JP: Operators will need to work with global technology vendors and other operators worldwide, but they will also need to support local suppliers, especially for niche applications such as wine making. Open platforms will enable small, local companies to come-up with innovative IoT solutions.
TT: Among Huawei’s plans for developing standards for IoT is opening channels for communication between telecom carriers and other verticals to enable them to jointly cultivate a robust new ecosystem for it. Is anything currently in the works for that particular goal?
JP: Huawei has been very active in working with the global standards bodies such as 3GPP for a global uniform technology standard that will drive down costs due to greater volume. Now that the standards are complete, Huawei is taking it to the next level by opening up the lines of communication between operators. For example, Huawei hosted a Global NB-IoT Summit that was held in conjunction with Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain back in February.
— Ariella Brown, Technology Writer, Telco Transformation