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M2Comm brings LPWAN standard to Weightless SIG

Steve Rogerson
July 23, 2015
M2Comm, a Taiwanese provider of industrial IoT connectivity technologies, has joined the Weightless SIG to lead a working group for the development of a new high performance LPWAN standard.
This latest standard, called Weightless-P, will offer uplink and downlink capabilities to enhance quality of service, especially important in the stringent industrial IoT sector. Adapted from field-proven experiences, Weightless-P supports all major licence-exempt SRD and ISM bands including 169, 433, 470-510, 780, 868, 915 and 923MHz, ensuring worldwide availability.
“Weightless-P will breathe new life into an IoT market that is waiting on a reliable LPWAN technology,” said Derrick Wei, CEO of M2Comm. “Many IoT sectors require reliability to be addressed with ultra-low energy wireless communications not accessible through operator services today. The slow adoption of wireless IoT highlights a huge technology void that Weightless-P will address without requiring custom hardware. Our current technology deployments in the retail and industrial sectors are a powerful indication of the future success we anticipate for Weightless-P.”
The standard provides fully acknowledged two-way communications offering best in class quality of service at data rates from 200bit/s to 100kbit/s. It enables higher capacity than existing LPWAN and cellular technologies for uplink-dominated traffic with short-to-medium payload sizes.
Using common commercially available chipsets, it will also support stationary and mobile end devices by using low-power, handover, cell re-selection and roaming methods. Other advanced reliability features include fast network acquisition, paging, FEC, ARQ, power control and adaptive channel coding.
The range and reliability, from challenging dense urban to rural environments, will exceed alternative LPWAN technologies using up to 17dBm output power.
While offering the promised performance, network reliability and security characteristics of 3GPP carrier-grade, still unavailable for some considerable time, Weightless-P promises lower costs and power consumption, less than 100µW in idle state compared with more than 3mW for the best cellular technologies and a price point equivalent to existing LPWAN.
“We are delighted to welcome M2Comm to the group and very excited about what Weightless-P brings to the IoT market,” said William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG. Asked how the technology impacts on existing Weightless technologies, Webb added: “This new technology is bringing unique capabilities to the space – it fits perfectly within the Weightless stable of technologies.”
The Weightless-P specification is expected to be published and available to SIG members towards the end of this year. Weightless-P hardware and development kits are expected to be launched in early 2016.
• A Weightless-N smart city network is being deployed in Copenhagen and the south of Denmark around the city of Esbjerg. This is the first deployment of a network using the standard outside the UK and follows a recent roll out in London.
Copenhagen is Denmark’s capital and largest city and Esbjerg the second largest port city and a leading European offshore energy industry centre.
The technology comes from UK company Nwave Technologies, which is collaborating with Accelerace Management and Next Step City in Denmark to roll out the smart city networks.
“Nwave’s open standard approach is of critical importance to both commercial and municipal adopters,” said Christian Hvashøj Schaarup from Accelerace Management. “The Weightless open standard model provides reassurance to users that the technology will not lock them into dependence on a single vendor.”
This announcement follows the recent publication of version 1.0 of the Weightless-N open standard based on the low power wide area star network (LPWAN) architecture and the subsequent Weightless network deployment across London.
Asked about the recent announcement from Sigfox about an IoT network in Denmark, Jes Nordentoft from Accelerace Management said: “We are aware of this claim and it is somewhat premature – it is a proposal only” adding “that proposed technology is proprietary and users would be tied to a single operator – with the operator referenced being little more than a startup seeking funds to deploy a network”.
Operating in sub-1GHz, licence-exempt ISM spectrum using ultra narrow band (UNB) technology, Weightless-N provides claimed best-in-class signal propagation characteristics, leading to a range of several kilometres, even in urban environments. Low power consumption gives battery life measured in years from small conventional cells, and the design is said to reduce terminal hardware and network costs.
Yury Birchenko, CEO of Nwave Technologies, described the networks as “a groundbreaking milestone – the first public network deployments from Nwave since the publication of the Weightless-N open standard”.
Weightless-N is designed around a differential binary phase shift keying (DBPSK) digital modulation scheme to transmit within narrow frequency bands using a frequency-hopping algorithm for interference mitigation and security. It provides for encryption and implicit authentication using a shared secret key regime to encode transmitted information via a 128bit AES algorithm.
The technology supports mobility with the network automatically routing terminal messages to the correct destination. Multiple networks, typically operated by different companies, are enabled and can be co-located. Each base station queries a central database to determine which network the terminal is registered to in order to decode and route data accordingly.