Ericsson and Orange partner for cellular IoT trials

Kit vendor Ericsson and mobile operator Orange are launching tests of three crucial areas of contention as they explore how the Internet of Things (IoT) will run over both GSM and LTE.

The IoT is a key aspect of Orange’s growth strategy and it is working to standardise present and future cellular networks in a bid to optimise them for the Internet of Things. By the end of 2016, Orange and Ericsson will perform their first trial of a 2G/4G network combination.

The three main areas of exploration will examine how to improve indoor coverage, cut the cost of IoT devices and extend battery life.

The two partners will conduct an Extended Coverage GSM (EC-GSM) trial in France using the 900 MHz band, aiming to improve device reachability by up to 20dB and create a seven-fold improvement in the range of low-rate applications. This would extend Orange’s IoT reach to smart meters in deep indoor basements and agricultural and infrastructure sensors in remote areas.

The EC-GSM trial should also help simplify device design, keep costs down and help provide nationwide IoT coverage without additional hardware investments. An additional LTE IoT trial will investigate whether cheap, simple devices can receive signals on one antenna, instead of two, and use half-duplex FDD. If successful this would create a 60% cost reduction in existing LTE Cat 4 set ups.

In a partnership with chip maker Sequans, Ericsson will also demonstrate energy efficiency over GSM and LTE networks with Power Saving Mode (PSM) technology which could extend the battery life of sensors by up to 10 years.

“IoT is a key area in Orange’s Essentials2020 strategic plan, and France should play a key role in IoT take-off in Europe,” said Alain Maloberti, SVP of Orange Labs Networks.

Orange’s Essentials2020 strategy plan includes a target for €600m euros in revenues by 2018 from IoT. In the plan Orange states its ambition to create this revenue by creating a presence across the whole value chain of the industries, such as retail, with plans for networks of Smart Stores and a strategy to be the retail customers’ digital coach. The strategy also includes plans to create value-added services for IoT objects in healthcare, well-being and the connected home.

Meanwhile, Ericsson has announced two new 5G development partnerships, with telco Ooredoo and joint research into 5G with Japanese telco KDDI. Under the terms of both agreements the partners will explore 5G use cases.

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