April 20, 2017

The 5G Hot List

As a former network planner, I have to say that I have been skeptical about 5G and IoT having much to do with each other. However, friends I respect have recently been putting caveats on their agreements with me that 5G is not a technology but a buzzword.

Given that Mobile World Congress was a great place to check the reality, I dove deep into IoT and 5G’s relationship. To be clear, when it comes to much of IoT, it’s hard to make the case that mobile will be the de facto standard. However, there are people with real vision that see mobile being able to compete with Ethernet within the enterprise one day.

It’s a bold vision, and when you talk about millimeter and centimeter waves you can lay the ground work.

However, we are not at the point at which this bold vision is dominating the conversation. 5G as a term is a wish list of everything that solves density and ubiquity. Sometimes the technologies bundled into 5G are contradictory; however, the proponents have made some skillful strategies to be inclusive and recognize that these technologies will utilize software defined air interfaces, radio access virtualization, network assisted device cooperation, and cloud RAN. Intel has been particularly focused on Mobile Edge Computing (ISG MEC) and has developed a platform that eases the way for IoT traffic between devices and cloud-based industrial applications. Gateway companies like Affirmed Networks, Cradlepoint, and Encore Networks are designed to support the virtualization of the gateways.

Right now much of the 5G and IoT discussion is about narrowband IoT, aka NB-IoT. That is a 3GPP release 13 specification that competes with LoRa, RPMA, and Sigfox as a low-power wide area solution. The solution then is designed to support in-building requirements, and for most of the world is a reuse of GSM spectrum. One aspect I have to point out is the dominance of Huawei in promoting NB-IoT.

Outside of the U.S., Huawei has become a dominant power in network infrastructure. However, NB-IoT is not the only 5G solution, and sometimes IoT solutions like automotive and video surveillance can require greater spectrum. Companies like Nokia and National Instruments are teaming up to develop 10 GB air interfaces, while BMW Korea, Ericsson, and SK Telecom were showing connectivity to race cars doing 170 MPH. The important thing to note is that like the internet itself, the physical layer technology is becoming less relevant as the virtualization assumes an any-to-any ability to transmit the media.

Given the 5G standard is still in process, much of The Hot List is with antenna, semiconductor, and testing equipment companies that are optimizing 5G. Anritsu says: “This 5G system will be used to run what is known as the Internet of Things, as it is expected to allow users to connect all kinds of everyday items to the internet and enable auto  recognition, auto control and remote measurement. In addition to automotive technology such as the self driving cars slated for release in 2020, IoT is expected to lead to major social innovation in a wide range of fields including medicine, health care, transportation, energy, industry, and agriculture.”

Azcom asserts that 5G technology is being designed to support new and diverse wireless network use cases. While 3G and 4G focused on making high-speed data a reality, the requirements emerging for the 5G network are more differentiated and aim to introduce wireless networking for diverse applications like connected vehicles, critical communications, machine-to-machine communications, and for the Internet of Things. 5G rests on four key pillars – new air interface, flexible spectrum allocation, network function virtualization, and software-defined networks.

Artiza Networks warns that the sheer number of independent, connected devices will be one of the biggest changes here. These devices may be simpler than the smartphones that generate more of the current LTE network traffic today, but successful IoT business cases will mean exponentially increasing the number of devices managed by any given cell. Any weaknesses in network infrastructure will be multiplied by the number of affected devices, and insufficient management of IoT support over LTE networks can compromise the functioning and battery life of billions of IoT devices. Solutions for testing IoT features and functionality must be advanced enough to help operators stay ahead of new network demands.

If they are right, then 5G is needed in a hurry. If they are wrong, then we have brought the boom and bust cycles of silicon into the cloud. At the end of this I am less skeptical than I have been. But I am also aware that this will mean a change in modeling of prices and services. Service providers have to become more like Amazon and less like they have been historically.

Now on to The Hot List.

Affirmed Networks has achieved significant attention, as its network functions virtualization solution has become the standard for the world’s top mobile operators.

Anritsu provides precision microwave/RF components, optical devices, and high speed electrical devices for communication products and systems. The company develops advanced solutions for 5G, M2M, IoT, as well as other emerging and legacy wireline and wireless communication markets.

Artiza Networks provides radio access network testing for 3G, 4G, and pre-5G LTE/ LTE-A networks. For more than 20 years, Artiza has collaborated with vendors and operators to test the RAN and core network nodes on cellular networks. With extensive engineering resources including PCB and FPGA/DSP development, customer support, and a sales force versed in mobile network technology, Artiza meets the full range of customer needs through in-house development of products and solutions.

Azcom Technology, a leader in wireless communications with two decades of experience, provides a suite of software/hardware products with customization and design services to build LTE/HSPA+ wireless networks for tactical, public safety, mission-critical, IoT and 5G applications. To address the evolving IoT market, Azcom is collaborating with many industry leading players to develop NB-IoT PHY/stack both for the network and the device. Azcom provides LTE traffic generator and testing solutions for NB-IoT and eMTC applications. In the automotive and avionics sectors, Azcom is working with several companies to build connectivity solutions and cloud-based applications for data processing/storage. Azcom is headquartered in Milan, Italy, with a design center in Gurgaon, India.

Cradlepoint provides cloud-based network solutions for connecting people, places, and things over wired and wireless broadband. Cradlepoint NetCloud is a software and services platform that extends the company’s 4G LTE-enabled multifunction routers and ruggedized M2M/IoT gateways with cloud-based management and software defined network services. With Cradlepoint, customers can leverage the speed and economics of wired and wireless internet broadband for branch, failover, mobile, and IoT networks while maintaining end-to-end visibility, security, and control.

Encore Networks manufactures commercial enterprise and industrial hardened routers. Encore Routers embed 4G cellular modems and feature IP, SSL, VPN, firewall, Ethernet switching, legacy copper line POTS replacement, and serial data to IP interworking. Ericsson offers hardware, software, and services in the mobility, broadband, and cloud categories. Ericsson’s core businesses are radio, core and transmission, and telecom services. The company operates through three business segments: networks, global services, and support solutions. Its targeted areas include operations support systems and business support systems; television and media; and internet protocol and cloud. The networks segment delivers solutions for mobile and fixed communication, various generations of radio networks, IP and transmission networks, core networks, and cloud.

Huawei is a China-based telecommunications equipment leader. It makes a range of products and provides services for cloud computing and more traditional telecom operations, such as radio access, fixed access, core network, and other systems. The company also makes mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, primarily under the Ascend and MediaPad brands. Huawei also offers such services as consulting, network integration, end-to-end delivery, and consulting.

Intel Corp. offers a range of products addressing client computing, data center, IoT, non-volatile memory, programmable solutions, security, and more. Its customers include original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, cloud and communications service providers, as well as industrial, communications, and automotive equipment manufacturers.

Kathrein Werke is one of the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of antennas. The company’s products are used for such wireless communications as applications satellite, mobile fixed radio, television, telecommunications, and automotive radio.

National Instruments offers platform-based systems that accelerate productivity and drive rapid innovation. Customers from a wide variety of industries – from health care to automotive and from consumer electronics to particle physics – use NI’s integrated hardware and software platform.

Nokia sells communications and networking solutions to communications service providers, governments, large enterprises, and consumers.

Vasona Networks sells an edge application controller called SmartAIR. It’s a standard-based MEC software layer that runs on NFV infrastructure and supports network and business agility efforts around radio access network transformation.

Xaptum has an IP overlay network optimized for IoT that connects the world of Things with the world of cloud based applications and big data. The company says it does so securely, reliably, and at massive scale. The company also has a software-defined wide area network called Xaptum Edge Network Fabric. Xaptum says it ensures sensor data is secure from the device all the way to the application, with complete accounting of all bits between endpoints.

IoT Evolution, TMC Celebrate IoT Excellence Award Winners


IoT Evolution and TMC are pleased to announce the winners of the latest IoT Excellence Award program. Congratulations to the winners.

Benu Networks
Virtual Service Edge Platform
The VSE is a virtual platform for service providers that combines mobility, SD-WAN, vCPE, and Wi-Fi technologies to deliver cloud managed services to residential and enterprise markets. It is available in both high-performance silicon and virtualized COT infrastructure. And it supports REST API.

Dojo by BullGuard
This is an integrated solution that monitors the home network for cyber threats. It discovers devices connected to the home network, secures them, and continuously analyzes network activity for suspicious behavior. It consists of a portable home device, a smartphone app allowing users to interact with the hardware, and a cloud-based platform.

Instant Crash Notification
This service sends a notification in the case of a car crash. It aims to reduce the time and resources required for insurance claims processing in the event of vehicle accidents. It does that by automating all functions associated with material damage and bodily injury.

Daintree Networks (owned by Current, powered by GE)
This energy management solution allows users to optimize building energy use. It leverages mesh networking and intelligent control software. Users can select the third-party control devices of their choice. ControlScope’s Wireless Area Controller can be employed for a floor or wing of a building.

Digi International
Digi Connect Sensor
This is a battery-powered sensor monitoring cellular gateway. It’s easy to install, weatherproof, and can be used with multiple sensor types. It features wired HART and Modbus protocol support; external, configurable power outputs that eliminate the need for sensor power supplies; and global cellular coverage. It also offers configurable read and report intervals with threshold and delta alarms.

ReliaGATE 20-26
This is a high-performance, globally certified IoT gateway designed for industrial and lightly rugged application. It’s powered by Red Hat and features up to four cores, extended operating temperature support, a wide range power supply, isolated and protected I/I interfaces, and customizable connectivity options.

Cinterion EMS31
This LTE Cat 1 Module addresses industrial IoT and machine-to-machine applications. Its power saving capabilities mean the batteries on IoT endpoints can function for more than 10 years. And it delivers speeds of up to 300 kilobits per second on the downlink and 375 kilobits per second on the uplink. It also delivers improved in-building and in-ground penetration, and supports more than 10 frequency bands from a single hardware device.

Glassbeam Analytics
This cloud-based platform enables companies to ingest, parse, and analyze complex machine data logs of usage, performance, configuration, and settings information. It can handle all types of machine log data, whether it is structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. It can address both streaming and batch loads. And it offers retention of three or more years.

MultiConnect Conduit
This is a configurable gateway for industrial IoT applications. It supports 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and Ethernet connectivity. It accepts a accessory cards for local wired or wireless field asset connectivity. That includes a LoRaWAN Ready mCard that can support thousands of MultiConnect mDot long-range RF modules connected to remote sensors or appliances.

PogoTec Inc.
PogoCam and PogoTrack Eyewear
PogoCam is is a USB drive-sized camera that was designed to attach to eyewear. It employs a look-and-shoot capability. PogoTrack is a discreet magnetic track that attaches wearable devices to eyewear.

Low-Power Wide Area Network-as-a-Service
This company, which is a contributing member of the LoRa Alliance, offers a low-power WAN for long-range Internet of Things applications based on the LoRaWAN protocol. As of late February the company’s network served more than 225 cities and 23 states across the U.S.

Sequans Communications
Monarch LTE Platform
This is single-chip Cat M1/NB1 solution was designed for narrowband IoT applications including sensors, wearables, and other low-data, low-power machine-to-machine and IoT devices. It complies with the ultra-low power and reduced complexity feature requirement of the 3GPP release 13 LTE Advanced Pro standard.

Wind River
Helix Device Cloud
This device management platform helps organizations greatly reduce the complexities of building and operating large-scale device deployments. Device Cloud connectivity services enable device health monitoring, bi-directional file transfer, and remote access to help service engineers detect and diagnose problems before they impact critical data collection.

Zipit Wireless Inc.
Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Wireless
This rugged camera provides hunters with crystal clear images and video. It was created via a collaboration between Bushnell and Zipit that occurred through the latter company’s partnership with AT&T. The camera allows users to access their photos from the device remotely, automatically receive thumbnails to a user’s mobile device, and get alerts when the battery is low, the GPS location has changed, or the memory card is full.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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