Enabling IoT & LTE-Advanced Look To Dominate Carriers’ Plans In 2017

January 23, 2017, Category: News

As networks are becoming more efficient and powerful, enabling IoT & advancing 4G with LTE-Advanced look to dominate carriers’ plans this year.

LPWA Vs NB-IoT

2017 will see further progress with increasing number of IoT-enabled devices, part of this evolution could include consolidating some of the numerous technologies that enable IoT to be successful. The telecoms industry will also continue to work toward the first release from 3GPP that will define 5G technology sometime in 2018.

This year could see the unlicensed LPWA (low power wide area) networks start to face increasing pressure from NB-IoT (narrowband-IoT) and LTE-M deployments, a view which is shared by Dan Warren, director of group architecture at Capita.

Vodafone is expecting to launch live commercial NB-IoT networks across Europe in the first quarter of this year. However, LPWA networks will likely stand their ground for now as cost pressures are dictating IoT deployments. It is these cost constraints that is likely to see increasing competition between the two technologies.

Warren states that “connectivity is not a luxury in IoT: it is a cost in a business case where the value is in data. As a result, any IoT business case will come under cost pressure, and the NB-IoT and LTE-M deployments may simply prove too expensive”.

4G Developments

Further improvements will also be made to 4G networks, with LTE-Advanced being the likely focus for operators this year. Declan Lonergan, an analyst at 451 Research suggests that “operators will use this for communications optimisation, lower latency, and the move to virtualised networks.”

Because of this, Lonergan argues that LTE-Advances technology will be the main priority for operators than 5G. “The road to 5G is paved with 4G and LTE-Advanced,” he says, pointing out that “there is still a lot that can be done with 4G.”

Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG goes further by predicting that LTE will be the primary technology for a much longer time than is currently widely predicted. He argues that this is because 4G speeds are now fast enough for mobile users, saying: “When watching video on your phone, you don’t see improvement in quality beyond 1Mbps. If you are doing web browsing, more than 1 or 2Mbps can cause delays in other parts of the system. We can already get 10Mbps with 4G, so there is no need for anything faster.”

However, operators will continue to work towards what is currently labelled as 5G, and some parts of the world are moving far more quickly than others, with Europe widely reported as being behind Asia and the US.

Europe remains a collective of smaller markets with geographic boundaries, meaning that “harmonised spectrum remains important” for the deployment of 5G to be cost effective and not hindered by technological clashes across various borders.

Lonergan predicts that 2017 will see further discussion on the business cases for 5G, explaining that “the discussion needs to move towards the business case including the funding model and the role of private enterprise to potentially deploy on campus and in buildings”.

“This approach is different from 4G when everything was left to national operators to deploy. Then you can start to bring in the technology components within that. Does spectrum need to be licensed in a different way? Do you divide it differently?”

Structural Change

Over the next few years the industry will see significant structural change, states Professor Webb. He predicts this could include a reduction in the number of mobile operators, particularly in the UK, pointing to a National Infrastructure Committee report that argues the case for a single shared network for operators.

Because of this, 2017 could see further shifts around the way operators view their networks. Increasing competition from companies such as Google is seeing operators looking to regain control of their core networks.

In terms of hardware, many experts think mobile devices have reached a peak in terms of innovation. 2017 could see larger screen sizes as further headway is made by the Chinese “challenger” carriers. However, this could lead to further use of content to differentiate in the increasingly competitive landscape.

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Adapted from original content found at http://bit.ly/2kke0TP

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