Trends in Cellular Technologies for M2M

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Ashish Gulati, country manager at Telit Wireless Solutions, speaks to Dilin Anand from EFY Goup.


Ashish Gulati, country manager at Telit Wireless Solutions
Ashish Gulati, country manager at Telit Wireless Solutions

Q. Among the wireless technologies that you deal with for M2M, are there any trends worth discussing?

A. For Internet of Things (IoT) modules, we have these different cellular technologies. Now earlier, customers used to ask for 2G technologies but I can tell you that 50% of the customers that we get today are asking for long term evolution (LTE). And the remaining 50% are mostly for 3G and rarely is there any for 2G. This was not the case in 2012.

Q. How have things improved with respect to deploying cellular technologies?

A. Ideally it takes 18-24 months for a cellular operator to launch a commercialized cellular network. In June last year, 3GPP body finalized the NB-IOT and Cat-M1 specs. The operators in North America are trying to offer commercialized networks in 6~12 months (instead of 24 months). This is the dynamics of the industry today. So, operators are so hard pressed on timelines to offer this network in 6~12 months, they are still doing field trials in North America (NAM) for Cat-M1. In India, most long term evolution (LTE) operators have their networks compliant to Cat-1. And even before getting enough customer base on their Cat-1, they are already working towards narrow band IoT (NB-IOT) and Cat.M1.

Q. What are the hardware changes usually seen when moving through successive generations of cellular technology?

A. If the module is going to change, then you have to change the antennas as they are different for 2G/3G/LTE and then there are some minor changes on the power supply. The rest of the changes will be on the software side so overall bill of materials (BOM) cost should be more or less the same.

Q. How do you tackle those cases where your customers could be shipping data-enabled devices globally?

A. Our IoT connectivity business unit has tied up with Telefonica on a global level under this tie up users can subscribe to our connectivity solutions for data access on global roaming plans. So, in countries where Telefonica does not have a presence, like India, it will have a fall-back arrangement with the local operators like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance. For the end user, it does not make a difference – as far as they are considered they will get a SIM card from Telit enabled by Telefonica and it will work on Telefonica global roaming network. They will get the data plans directly from Telit.

Q. What is the process like for an engineering department that wants to migrate to Telit modules from another vendor’s module?

A. Customers must share the application or product that they are using right now. Our modules will have AT commands that drive these modules. When a customer tells us what product they are using, we make a comparison of those AT commands that are different. While most are common, there are going to be some proprietary commands that may differ. We review these and tell our customers what changes that they need to make to straightaway use our modules. For a customer, this is very easy because he now knows what changes he needs to make.

Q. What can independent design houses look forward to, while working with you and your team at Telit?

A. In addition to supporting IDH on their design initiatives, we also go much beyond in some cases we help them showcase their product solutions to global market thru industry exhibitions. We sign up agreements with IDHs whereby we work with them exclusively for an application and promote to prospective clients. We also introduce them to our distribution partners for joint promotion campaigns.

Q. What are the kind of issues that are usually seen when deploying IoT solutions?

A. I see more of integration issues because there are certain cases where it is difficult to integrate the IoT devices with the conventional equipment/machinery in a manufacturing plant. For instance, sometimes there are older equipment that have no relevant data outlet so we must create one in those cases. Although this could be a challenge but we are well positioned to handle such challenging installations together with our ecosystem partners.


 

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