Part One: Introduction
Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networking technologies are attempting to connect 10s (even 100s) of Billions of currently unconnected endpoints. The cellular industry is aggressively pursuing an offering for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) through the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body. By doing so, the cellular industry is conceding that a new approach is required and that the current cellular systems (2G, 3G, 4G LTE) do not address the requirements of these LPWA devices. There are several flavors of the cellular LPWA roadmap including NB-IOT, LTE-M, and EC-GSM.
However, the cellular LPWA approaches are over-constrained and will disappoint customers for many of the same reasons that cellular technology to date has been disappointing to the customers.
One recurring theme you will see in this series is that the requirements driving cellular LPWA development are unrealistically benign. This reduces the challenge of developing the technology but serves to make the ultimate performance of the system disappointing.
Let’s walk through some of that disappointment in broad strokes:
- First of all, cellular LPWA is NOT available today and will not be at commercial scale for years.
- Second, the economics of LPWA devices require a “graceful evolution.” There must be continuity of the network to justify the return-on-investment (ROI) required to connect these devices. Cellular is not in a position to satisfy that based on continual technology sunset risk, fragmentation of approaches, and lack of network priority for machines. As we have seen multiple times now, cellular technology generations die, leaving millions of orphaned machines behind.
- Third, the complexity that is acceptable in a high revenue handset is not acceptable in a low-end machine. Multi-band support and certification expense are barriers to fulfilling the Return On Investment (ROI) of these devices.
RPMA, by contrast, is available today and solves these critical problems by guarantees to never sunset, and the simplicity of a single global band.
On the technical side, there will be significant performance constraints based on attempting to twist existing voice/data approaches into servicing LPWA needs that are vastly different. This paper focuses on five areas of technical issues where cellular LPWA will struggle and RPMA will excel:
- Issue 1: Uplink Capacity
- Issue 2: Downlink Capacity
- Issue 3: Firmware Download
- Issue 4: Robustness
- Issue 5: Power Consumption
In this series, we examine the performance issues above in more detail. We will look at the Fundamental Cellular Issue(s), the Performance Impact, and How RPMA Solves the Issues. One recurring theme you will see in this series is that the requirements driving cellular LPWA development are unrealistically benign. This reduces the challenge of developing the technology but serves to make the ultimate performance of the system disappointing.
This post is a part of the series Is the cellular standard roadmap (3GPP/GSMA) the answer to Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Connectivity? Click a link below to learn more, or download our free eBook, How RPMA Works: The Making of RPMA.
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Cellular LPWA Availability
- Part 3: 3GPP/GSMA is NOT Providing a Graceful Evolution Path for Machines
- Part 4:. Cellular LPWA Complexity
- Part 5: Cellular LPWA Performance Issue 1: Uplink Capacity
- Part 6: Cellular LPWA Performance Issue 2: Downlink Capacity
- Part 7: Cellular LPWA Performance Issue 3: Firmware Download
- Part 8: Cellular LPWA Performance Issue 4: Robustness
- Part 9: Cellular LPWA Performance Issue 5: Power Consumption