CAT0 Archives - eleven-x

Eleven-x Brings Low-Power Wide Area Network to Waterloo for IOT

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I am proud to share this article on eleven-x, featured in The Waterloo Region Record. The article describes a low-power wide area network that we have set up for the city’s use, for the purpose of connecting wireless sensors to the Cloud and testing the many uses that sensors will have in our lives.

We are grateful for the support of our local post-secondary institutions (University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Conestoga College) and technology hubs (Communitech and Accelerator Centre). This is an exciting time for not just the wireless industry but for our community. This is the first public network of its kind in Canada, and is a major step towards realizing the potential of the Internet of Things.

Eleven-x boasts a world-class team developing wireless tech for IOT. We are looking for Senior Wireless Software Developers to join us! Visit our Careers page.


Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016: Big Hype and Real Data

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It is hard to believe that it has been a year since our first trip to Mobile World Congress (MWC). And as we madly prepare for this year’s conference, we reflect on last year’s event, and look forward to what we will learn and who we will connect with this time.

The exciting thing about MWC is that everyone in the industry goes. But behind all the flash of new product announcements and press releases, the engineers and decision makers from the trenches are also there to show off their hard work. Here you can meet the key players, find out the real story behind what they are doing, and learn the actual state of play.

A year ago, the wireless IOT solutions movement was just gaining traction. And in the year since, it has become the biggest story in telecoms. Talk of low bit rate, low-power networks has dominated wireless conversations, and the term LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networks) became the hot acronym of the year.

Last year we met a group of engineers from a little company called Nuel who had just been bought by Huawei in 2014. They were excitedly showing off their prospective wireless technology for IOT applications that they had just introduced to the 3GPP standards body. We were impressed by the simplicity of their system. It was a wild ride for them this past year, as their technology was put through the 3GPP wringer. It merged with other technologies and was renamed at least twice. I hope we get a chance to meet these guys at the Narrowband-IOT summit at MWC, hear their version of the journey, and compare notes on current proposed solutions.

Having spent the last year implementing LTE CAT-1 and CAT-0 and looking at LTE-M, we have a good grasp of the possibilities and challenges here. But 3GPP is offering multiple paths for IOT: LTE-M, NB-IOT, and EC-GSM. This leaves a lot of questions in terms of who is deploying what and where. We are going to MWC for answers. We will be talking to carriers, module makers, chipset manufacturers and infrastructure vendors to build a picture of the market’s direction and also build key partnerships.

Another company we met last year was SIGFOX. Almost exactly a year ago, this French start-up announced a $115M funding round to build out its network globally. They made a bold move to build a worldwide IOT network in unlicensed bands, and took an innovative approach to driving adoption: by giving away the technology. The team was passionate and confident. But in the last year, their success has generated many rivals. This year we will talk to them again, and discuss how their expansion is going. We will also talk to representatives of their top competitor, LoRa. I still have doubts that these ISM technologies can provide a scalable, sustainable solution in the long term, but I look forward to discussion and competing opinions.

Virtualization was a big topic last year. Both core and RAN are primed for radical transformation. Last year NFV was being promoted by all the big infrastructure and equipment vendors. During the year we were lucky enough to get a front row seat to some initial testing of a vEPC solution. I am interested to see advances in virtualization: vRAN or cloudRAN blows my mind. The possibilities on how spectrum will be managed in the future using virtualization are astounding. This will be the really transformative part of 5G. While there were a couple of interesting demos last year, I hope to see some truly innovative stuff this year.

MWC 2016 is a huge, exciting event where the big players put on a big show. But it also gives us smaller guys a one-stop shop for access to the key players – of all sizes – in mobile. While being in the thick of the hype will be exciting, we expect to achieve and learn a lot. And going to Barcelona, well that is just icing on the cake.

Published on EETimes: Fragmentation Looms in IOT

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Our Co-Founder and CTO Fraser Gibbs is now a continuing contributor to esteemed industry website Aimed towards the global networking and electronics community, EETimes has published Fraser’s article on the Internet of Things (IOT). Specifically, Fraser explains how the 3GPP standards body is failing to serve the looming needs of IOT, and the repercussions of this failure.

Anyone developing products for the low-power, wide area wireless market will find this article of interest. Take a read and feel free to comment online or message Fraser Gibbs. Thanks so much for reading.

Published on EE Times!

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Fraser Gibbs, Co-Founder and CTO of eleven-x, has been published on EE Times, the go-to publication for global electronics. In his article, Fraser describes the limitations of unlicensed spectrum in the ISM band, as it pertains to IOT applications. You can read his article here, and post comments to EE Times or send to Congratulations to Fraser for his contributions to thought leadership on wireless connectivity for IOT.

eleven-x Conducts First Tests of LTE Cat-0, Power Saving Mode for 3GPP Release 12

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To do something first: in high tech, the notion is a thrilling one. We are certainly feeling the excitement in the field of wireless communications. As 3GPP is releasing its standards in support of IOT, eleven-x is proud to be working on the front lines. Over the last month, several members of our team hit the road to conduct demos and tests with some big-name players. We say that “we love innovating to solve real-world problems” and this was a wonderful opportunity to see our code in action.

In Ottawa, we took part in the industry’s first integration of LTE Machine Type Communications (MTC) devices on the Ericsson network equipment. The goal was to prove out the Power Saving Mode (PSM) and LTE Cat-0 features in support of 3GPP Release 12. This session of interoperability testing gave both parties a chance prove out our solutions, and take the first steps towards compliance. A successful first interoperability session is a major milestone in the development of any mobile technology.

From Canada’s capital city, we shifted gears and went to Las Vegas for the CTIA Super Mobility conference. We participated in two demonstrations for PSM and LTE Cat-0; one with Ericsson and one with Anritsu. It was the first time MTC was demonstrated to the public with Ericsson and showcased industry-leading low power consumption for IOT devices.

After the bright lights of Vegas, the big city of Dallas beckoned. At the Verizon test lab, we participated in interoperability testing for their network using equipment from Ericsson, Cisco, ALU, and Affirm.

Next week, another member of our team will be heading back to Ottawa, but this time in service of LPP development for a new chipset integration. It is a thrilling time at eleven-x. We love to be on the forefront of wireless innovation, and are excited to be on the leading edge of IOT.

LTE CAT 0 – A Step Back is a Big Step Forward

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LTE was developed to deliver broadband connections, and provide users with on-demand bandwidth for their mobile applications. Users are willing to pay the device and battery costs to have this bandwidth at their fingertips. The demand for more bandwidth is driving advancements such as Carrier Aggregation, and has the carriers looking to replace their 2G deployments with the more spectrum-efficient LTE.

But the rise of the Internet of Things has brought about a dilemma for LTE carriers. M2M devices often have relatively little data to send, need to be low cost, and able to run unattended on batteries for long periods. Thus, IOT solution providers are flocking to 2G as their preferred solution. 2G chipsets are easily found in the $10 range, whereas an LTE chipset could cost as much as $50. 2G requires a more simplified BOM with a single antenna, whereas the more complex 4G requires 2 antennas and two receiver chains.

3GPP’s answer to this problem is their MTC initiative, which introduced LTE-M and the so-called Category 0 additions to Release 12 and Release 13. Cat-0 could allow LTE carriers to exist in both the broadband and IOT markets.

Release 12 starts to tackle the power consumption issues through the introduction of Power Saving Mode (PSM) which will allow increased deep sleep time in idle modes, and allow manufacturers to make power-saving and latency trade-offs. Essentially a device can be off, but still retain its context within the network. Release 12 makes a first step to cost reduction by reducing the peak UL and DL rates for CAT-0 to 1 Mbps, requiring 1 antenna (and corresponding receiver chain), and offers the option of half duplex operation. 3GPP estimates these features offer device manufacturers a cost reduction of 50% compared to a CAT-1 device.

Release 13 furthers cost reduction by further reducing complexity. Devices will be able to operate with bandwidth as small as 1.4 MHz and peak rates as low as 200kbps. New power classes that lower max transmit power should allow power amplifier integration into the chipset. Estimates here put the cost reduction to 25% of a CAT-1 solution. 3GPP has its sights on a 20dbm link budget improvements for Release 13, which will result in coverage improvements.

LTE can overcome its current challenges and provide a compelling solution for M2M. Because LTE already provides the mobility, security and global coverage that the alternatives lack, it should be the default solution for IOT connectivity. What I hope to see at Mobile World Congress is indications that carriers and vendors are pushing forward with implementation to meet the demand by device manufacturers.

Great Expectations for Mobile World Congress 2015

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For someone like me – the CTO of a LTE software development company – going to Mobile World Congress is a big deal. It’s the largest mobile conference in the world, and as a first-time attendee, my expectations are pretty high. This is supposed to be the biggest and best show for us wireless folks.

First and foremost, I hope for a total mobile geek-out. Acronym-filled conversations with people whose eyes light up – rather than gloss over – when I say I am an LTE protocol developer, and want to talk about PDNs, QOS, MMEs, EPCs and IMS.  The next thing I am looking for is answers.

The ultimate buzzword last year in tech was IOT. And CES sure reflected this. But let’s see the tech that is needed to make this real. Obviously, 3GPP will have a huge role to play. But looking at what is out there, M2M devices are using 2G for transport; LTE only comes into play for backhauling technologies such as Bluetooth, Zigbee and Wifi. 3GPP should be able to do more. It has near-global terrestrial coverage and has all the mobile, security, scalability problems solved for M2M. Is CAT0 going to make LTE M2M friendly? And are the carriers really going to make it easy and affordable for companies to put a billion new devices on their networks this year?

Although I missed the show last year, all reports say virtualization was the hot topic. I wish I’d been there. The possibilities that open up when it comes to software-based IP cores are really exciting. There are lots of offers in the market already, and anyone who doesn’t have one yet is working on it. But there are still a lot of naysayers out there who doubt the viability of NFV for large user networks. I will definitely be talking to anyone with an EPC in a box or in the cloud. First question: who is buying this now?

Another area of interest is the broadcast domain. eMBMS has been in the works for a while, and of course many carriers claim to be heading that way. But how will this be rolled out, and with what content? Video will be the obvious use case. But we are talking broadcast here, not VOD. Netflix is the dominant broadband application and others are rushing to copy its success. Don’t we need more broadband? eMBMS means taking chunks out of broadband spectrum and repurposing it to broadcast.  What is the compelling use case for carriers to do that? Countries have spectrum dedicated to broadcast video using more appropriate frequencies. Of course, there have to be folks out there that are not thinking video, and have cool new ideas here.

Last but not least, there is 5G: years away from being in hand, but the arms race is on. Lots of companies claim they are working on 5G, and everyone is certainly trying to build their 5G patent portfolio. Some claim to be doing it (see Cellular News story). The IOT promise has changed the way everyone views the future. No longer is the focus on just massive throughput to a user. Capacity is needed for billions of things, but the bandwidth must be available when demanded.  Officially, 2015 is the year of requirements gathering. High density, uniformity, low energy, high capacity, low latency and low cost are all on the list. Many say the approach to 5G will be different. Where 4G was focused on OFDM, 5G will be a collection of technologies that collectively solve a problem. There will be lots of folks pushing their 5G agenda at MWC, and that should mean some great exhibits and discussions.

There is much to look forward to and I hope the show delivers. Expect updates from us on what we see and learn.