Why M2M should go Weightless in white space

May 05, 2013

William Webb-May 05, 2013

The Internet of Things is poised at a tipping point where market demand and technological capability are rapidly converging to enable an enormous shift in connectivity. All of the jigsaw pieces are in play now with the final hurdle of M2M optimized connectivity being realized via white space spectrum. White space spectrum offers wide area network reach equivalent, and in many respects superior to, traditional telephony based cellular architectures but at a terminal cost and power consumption more usually associated with LAN technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This is the catalyst for a revolution in capability that could have been created serendipitously for M2M.

Traditional approaches simply cannot tick all of the critical boxes that are necessary to realize the potential. 2G, 3G and LTE whilst exceptionally good for high bandwidth human communications such as voice and video streaming to expensive cellular handsets with a battery life measured in hours are simply not appropriate for vast numbers of low cost remotely located wireless sensors. The low price point and long battery life associated the latest LAN technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0 tick two of the critical boxes - cost and power consumption - but cannot provide the range necessary for the majority of M2M applications leading to tiny cells with large gaps between them.

We’ve all been promised the Internet of Things and billions of connected devices. To get to that point rapidly, however, means producing cheap RF chips (at $2 and below) that can carry data up to 10 kilometers and run 10 years on single battery. TV white spaces can provide that. And the Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG) is providing the standard.

The Weightless SIG just released its complete standard specification for the Weightless technology in April. The Weightless standard is an open-source, royalty-free specification for machine communications within white space. High quality white space spectrum is the globally harmonized frequency range freed up through the switchover of TV transmissions from analog to digital. White space spectrum offers exceptionally good signal propagation characteristics enabling long range and superior in-building penetration without excessive power consumption leading to long battery life and low terminal and network deployment and maintenance costs. White space spectrum is the best hope for getting rapid growth in the Internet of Things (IoT).

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