411 on 5G

November 1, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

For the past few years, the world of technology has been abuzz with talk about the 5th generation mobile wireless (5G), and with full-scale rollouts set to begin next year, all that buzz can be expected to become a swarm. For example, when wireless networks transitioned from 3G to 4G, there were incremental improvements in technology and performance, but the upgrade from 4G to 5G is expected to be a complete revolution of wireless and connectivity. To make sure you’re prepared to take part in the revolution, here’s the 411 to get you up to speed on 5G.

 

The goal of the 5G network is to create a platform that makes it possible to deliver global connection. This means being able to connect everyone and everything, everywhere around the globe. In addition to that, 5G systems are slated to deliver data rates that far surpass 4G in a wider coverage area, while being more power efficient and reliable, presenting lower latency, supporting faster moving equipment and the influx of communication stemming from the Internet of Things (IoT). Plus, 5G will not only support mobile wireless users, it will also include enhanced wireless connectivity technology for use in applications such as automotive, smart homes, augmented and virtual reality.

 

In order to cross into all of those markets, the specifications for 5G performance have been debated and defined. The finalized specifications were set to be released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in 2020. Though mobile operators and service providers are urging the standardization organizations to accelerate that timetable.

 

With so much uncertainty still looming over the finalization of the standard, early releases are not shaping up exactly as planned. In the meantime, the non-standalone 5G new radio (NSA 5G NR) is the interim 5G specification and will help ease the transition from 4G to 5G. The NSA 5G NR supports many aspects of 5G including the sub-6 GHz spectrum, frequency bands, carrier aggregation and MIMO. With the new 5G frequency bands, NSA 5G NR is capable of 5G-like performance while utilizing existing technologies and infrastructure. This interim specification will provide the groundwork for future trials and deployments and allow for the technology to be better understood for the full 5G rollout.

 

With the excitement of early 5G availability, there have also been new application opportunities emerging that include fixed wireless (FWS) to the home. This development would use 5G wireless technology to provide last mile data services including television, home internet and voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone calling. As the launch of early 5G gets closer, there are bound to be additional new and existing applications to arise that would benefit from 5G’s lower latency, increased data rates and enhanced reliability. Until then, we will have to wait with great anticipation for the arrival of 5G.

 

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How the IoT is Affecting Wi-Fi

October 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In today’s society, Wi-Fi has become something that people now expect to be readily available and depend on to carry out everyday tasks. With the rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT), people will soon become accustomed to having all of their things connected as well. But with all of those connected devices, can Wi-Fi handle an even greater influx of user demand for high-speed connectivity? Here, we’ll take a look at how the IoT is affecting Wi-Fi.

 

When it comes to connectivity requirements, each IoT application can have a different set of range, data throughput and energy efficiency needs. Some IoT devices only need small, intermittent data transfers, such as utility meters. While some need a constant stream of data, such as live surveillance cameras. Also, range can differentiate from very short for wearables, to spanning miles for weather and agricultural sensor applications. But there are two things that are constants for all IoT applications: the need for remote power and constant connectivity.

 

To fulfill this need, Wi-Fi is the obvious choice because Wi-Fi coverage is so widespread, but standard Wi-Fi is not always the best choice for IoT applications. Thus, there are several standards that have emerged from the need for IoT connectivity. These include LoRaWAN, multiple short range communications standards and new Wi-Fi standards such as HaLow (802.11ah) and HEW (802.11ax).

 

The 802.11ah standard was introduced to address the range and power needs of the IoT. It utilizes the 900 MHz frequency band to provide extended range, covering a one kilometer radius, lower power requirements, wake/sleep periods and station grouping options.

 

The 802.11ax standard also includes the wake/sleep and station grouping features, and has a MU-MIMO feature that allows up to 18 users to simultaneously send data within a 40 MHz channel when paired with the smaller subcarrier spacing. Internet service providers and technology startups have also begun developing an application layer that includes mesh networks that use sets of routers to work together and extend wireless coverage, and provisioning tactics that define how wireless devices connect to networks.

 

There is some fear that the IoT could essentially break Wi-Fi, but there seems to be plenty of development activity focused around finding solutions to Wi-Fi congestion before it becomes a problem. With all of the IoT devices expected to be connecting in the near future, there will likely be a significant shift in Wi-Fi practices and standards, but as with everything in the world of technology, being able to pivot and reconfigure is the name of the game.

 

Smart Homes - The Future is Here

September 20, 2018 at 10:00 AM

 

Long ago, the idea of a home having the technology to be interactive was only a possibility in a Hollywood production or sci-fi novel. But those days are gone, the future is here and smart homes have moved from the realm of fantasy to an endless world of possibility. With the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), the world in general is becoming smarter and safer, and that includes our homes. Here, we’ll take a look at the technology behind the innovation bringing technological magic to your home.

 

First, what is a smart home? A smart home is automated, much in the way your coffee pot or your air conditioner are automated to turn on at a certain time or temperature. But a smart home takes that one step further by connecting all of those automated devices in your home through a wireless network, they are then able to be monitoring and programmed from one device. It is that communication with the devices that makes it smart. The devices in a smart home all rely on connectors and sensors to transmit and relay signals. Most wireless home automation uses low-power equipment so that power supply is not an issue.

 

To connect all of these devices, a combination of long and short-range wireless communication protocols is used, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT and ZigBee. With this technology, along with smartphones and tablets, we are now able to connect a multitude of devices within the home, this includes TVs, heating and cooling systems, lighting, appliances, security systems and cameras, or anything else that can be connected to the network. Plus, the communication to these devices is not distance limited, meaning you can control or change your thermostat while you’re at work or traveling using WAN connectivity via a router. Many new homes are being constructed with this technology built-in, older homes can be retrofitted with smart technologies and there are devices from companies like Google and Amazon that will connect to many electronics within your home.

 

Why would someone want a smart home? For one, it can make life a lot easier. Being able to control the devices within your home from your smartphone is super convenient. There is also an additional level of safety added when you’re able to monitor your home through a connected security network. Video cameras can provide surveillance in and around the home, with smart locks you can allow repairmen into your home and you are able to monitor when children get home from school. For people with disabilities or limited movement, smart homes that allow them to manage the home environment from a single, mobile device can make life much easier. In addition to safety, smart homes can be very energy efficient, which is good for the environment. Being able to control the thermostat remotely and turn lights and appliances on or off can be a great way to save energy.

 

With the growth of the IoT and more things becoming connected, it is no wonder that this would apply to our homes as well. Not only do smart homes provide convenience, they can also be good for the environment and give assistance to the disabled. Lucky for us, we no longer have to wait for the home of the future, the future is now. 

 

IoT: Making the World Safer

June 21, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

We are living in exciting times. With the development of the IoT making it possible to connect devices and make smart homes, smart businesses, smart cars and smart cities, our world is evolving into an interconnected network designed to make life easier. In previous posts, we’ve explored the IoT and antennas, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) and how the IIoT is changing manufacturing. Aside from the business aspect of the IoT, is there a greater benefit to society? Here, we’ll look at how the IoT, and all of its things, can also be used to make the world safer.

 

Today, body cameras are offering a previously unseen view into the world of policing and social media allows for crimes to be publicly documented by anyone with a smartphone. Plus, cameras and surveillance systems are already being implemented in many cities to keep a watchful eye when law enforcement isn’t physically present. Take that a step further and there are technologies being introduced that are truly transformative. Intelligent roadway systems are being utilized to direct traffic flow and manage digital signs that provide information to drivers, all to help avoid accidents and make the roads safer. This same type of technology, along with GPS, can also allow first responders to better navigate through traffic and improve response times.

 

Furthermore, with the IoT, there is a huge amount of data being collected. All of this information can be used to analyze behavior and patterns and create algorithms to identify potential crimes before they occur. Everything from past criminal activity, behavior patterns, weather patterns, social media activity and gunshot sensors can be used to inform law enforcement and help prevent crimes from taking place, or lessen the effect of the event. In fact, some cities already have technology in place that uses sensors to detect a gunshot, determine the location of shots fired and deliver that information to law enforcement within one minute. Much like a fire alarm alerts of potential danger, this system alerts of a potential active shooter situation, notifies the police and provides real-time data on where shots were fired and the layout of the location.

 

Other technology making the world safer includes self-driving cars, which remove some element of human error and could eliminate the risk that goes along with high-speed chases. Also, drones can be used to provide aerial surveillance, assess and access areas that might be too dangerous for officers or first responders to enter blindly. GPS can be used to track where someone is in a building, making it easier to find people in the event of a fire, natural disaster or other emergency situation. Plus, health monitoring devices can provide information to first responders if a victim is unresponsive. These devices might even be able to detect a health issue before it occurs.

 

There are many ways that the IoT is changing the world for the better, including safety. By using IoT technology and connecting devices to allow people to navigate this world more safely, we all win.

 

LoRaWAN and the IoT

April 5, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, new technology to foster its growth also emerges. One example is LoRaWAN.

 

LoRaWAN was developed by the LoRa Alliance as a way to standardize the global deployment of low-power, wide-area networks (LPWAN) to enable the IoT. LoRaWAN is a LPWAN specification designed for wireless, battery operated devices in a regional, national or global network. The focus of LoRaWAN is fulfilling key requirements of the IoT with secure, bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services.

 

LoRaWAN is a media access control (MAC) payer protocol made for large-scale public networks with a single operator. This specification allows for interoperability between smart Things without complicated local installations, which offers more freedom for users, developers and businesses, and enables easier implementation of the IoT. The low power wide-area networks used in the LoRaWAN specification are able to provide low data rate, low cost, long battery life and long range – all of which is ideal for IoT devices. Plus, the simple star network architecture means there are no repeaters and no mesh routing complexity.

 

How does it work? LoRaWAN is a star network and the way it operates is somewhat simple. The gateway communicates messages between the end-devices, and vice versa, through single-hop wireless communication. There is also a network server in the background that is connected to the gateway via a standard IP connection. With this standard, end-point communication is usually bi-directional, though LoRaWAN also supports mass distribution messages to decrease on air communication time. Communication between gateways and end-devices is distributed between different data rates and frequency channels, which helps to avoid interference. Data rates with LoRaWAN range from 0.3 kbps to 50 kbps. The LoRaWAN server manages the data rate and RF output for each device with an adaptive data rate scheme, this maximizes battery life of the end-devices and network capacity. LoRaWAN also provides extra security with several layers of encryption, which is necessary for nation-wide networks designed for IoT use. These layers of protection consist of a unique network key (EUI64) for a secure network, a unique application key (EUI64) for end-to-end security on an application level and a device specific key (EUI128).

 

There are three different classes of LoRaWAN end-point devices:

 

  • ·       Class A - Bi-directional end-devices: This class of end-devices are capable of bi-directional communications, this means the after the uplink transmission of each device there are two short downlink receive windows. These end-devices follow an ALOHA-type protocol where the transmission scheduled is mostly based on the communication needs of the end-device, with some times chosen randomly. The Class A operations system provides the lowest power option for applications that only need downlink communication from the server after an uplink transmission has been sent by the end-device.

 

  • ·       Class B – Bi-directional end-devices with scheduled receive slots: Class B devices unlock additional receive windows at scheduled times, in addition to random receive windows like Class A. To open the receive window at a scheduled time, the end-device receives a time synchronized beacon from the gateway which alerts the server of when the end-device is listening.

 

  • ·       Class C – Bi-directional end-devices with maximal receive slots: Class C end-devices have receive windows that are almost always open, only closing when a transmission is in progress.

 

As IoT use increases, LoRaWAN provides a low data rate, low cost option making it easier to connect Things locally or globally, all while providing long battery life and long range.

 

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