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Ericsson and Orange trial IoT over GSM and LTE

William Payne
December 3, 2015
Swedish telecoms equipment manufacturer Ericsson and mobile network operator Orange have begun trials of optimised, low-cost, low-complexity devices and enhanced network capabilities for mobile IoT over GSM and LTE.
The trial aims to improve indoor coverage as well as long range coverage for applications such as smart agriculture or industrial infrastructure monitoring, as well as reduce IoT device cost and extend battery life. The two companies anticipate that mobile networks optimised for IoT will be operational in 2017.
The companies will be supported in the trials by Sequans Communications, the first chipset manufacturer to develop MTC LTE devices able to fit with connected form factors. Among possible products, there will be sensors, smart metering, assets tracking and wearables.
Ericsson and Orange will be conducting an EC-GSM (extended coverage) trial in France using the 900MHz band, with the aim to enhance device reachability by up to 20dB or a seven-fold improvement in the range of low-rate applications. The trial aims to extend the coverage of GSM in Europe and Africa to reach difficult locations such as deep indoor basements, where many smart meters are installed, or remote areas in which sensors are deployed for agriculture or infrastructure monitoring use cases. In addition, the companies believe that EC-GSM will reduce device complexity and thus lower costs, enabling large-scale IoT deployments.
According to Orange and Ericsson, another advantage of this technology is enablement by software upgrades of existing cellular networks, providing nationwide IoT coverage without additional hardware investments.
"IoT is a key area in Orange's Essentials 2020 strategic plan," said Alain Maloberti, SVP of Orange Labs Networks, "and France should play a key role in IoT takeoff in Europe. In order to extend our connectivity offer, we are currently deploying a LoRa network. At the same time, we are preparing the future of cellular networks and we are happy to collaborate with Ericsson to be the first operator to demonstrate IoT over GSM and LTE in order to roll it out ahead of 5G availability in the market."
A further trial of LTE IoT in partnership with Sequans will take place using low-cost, low-complexity devices with one receive antenna instead of two, and half-duplex FDD. This is designed to simplify the device hardware architecture and reduce expensive duplex filters, with an objective of a 60 per cent cost reduction in comparison with existing LTE cat four.
In partnership with Sequans, Ericsson will also demonstrate energy efficiency over GSM and LTE networks with power saving mode (PSM) technology. The PSM feature is applicable to both GSM and LTE, and supported by evolved packet core (EPC). It is designed to enable extended battery life of communications modules such as sensors by up to ten years thanks to optimised, power-efficient operations.
"IoT is an emerging market," said Thomas Noren, vice president and head of radio product management at Ericsson, "and presents great business potential for mobile operators. Ericsson is providing the software upgrade only to accelerate cellular networks for IoT, allowing operators to leverage their infrastructure investments in order to quickly capture new business opportunities now and in the future with 5G. With our RAN and Core strengths, we are in the best position to support Orange's innovation around IoT."