Aiming to enhance significantly its internet of things (IoT) portfolio, telco O2 is claiming to have become the first UK network to introduce a Long-Term Evolution, category M1 (LTE-M) network in the country.
The LTE-M network is designed to accelerate widespread, large-scale uptake of long-life IoT battery devices out in the field, with 50 UK cell sites already live and national roll-out planned to complete by the end of 2020.
A low-power, wide area network (LPWAN), the LTE-M network is designed to enable businesses to support millions of connected devices, driving increased operational efficiencies and insights. It also provides higher throughput, with wide coverage for urban and rural areas, and lower latency, because it allows businesses to share small amounts of data between assets at a low power consumption. It also potentially saves on battery life – O2 says devices could run for up to 10 years with no need to charge.
Furthermore, the telco believes that all of these benefits can also help bring down IoT device costs for business customers connecting to the network. O2 has already made developments in its IoT offering to date, providing smart meters across the UK as part of what it says is one of the world’s largest IoT deals. The company is now working on trials to bring new LTE-M applications to market via its new network, including projects relating to smart cities, retail and healthcare.
Potential LTE-M use cases for UK businesses include smart cities, whereby parking sensors can monitor and report parking space availability, send updates between traffic lights (including real-time traffic monitoring) and offer status monitoring for waste containers to help optimise waste collection; location tracking of smart bicycles; and auto-testing, battery checks and real-time alerts in smart buildings.
Paul O’Sullivan, O2
In industrial operations, the technology could see use in applications such as petrochemical and waste storage, hazardous fluids, high radio frequency interference environments, tank process and safety monitoring, while it can also be deployed for asset tracking (pallets and goods, for example) and real-time visibility of the wide area (trucks) and indoor wide area (warehouses).
“IoT technology has the potential to transform the way the UK does business, so to become the first UK network operator to roll out an LTE-M network is a major milestone for us here at O2,” said Paul O’Sullivan, director of wholesale and commercial at O2.
“We know that businesses looking into IoT solutions want answers now, not in five to 10 years. Introducing a nationwide LTE-M network in 2020 will help unlock low-power use cases we haven’t seen before, from asset tracking and public sector applications like sensors on signage and traffic lights, right through to parking sensors and soil monitoring. We’re looking forward to partnering with UK businesses to bring these use cases to life.”
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