GSMA and 3GPP green-light new IoT network standards

Global mobile industry association GSMA has welcomed apparent industry consensus on Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that is being designed specifically to accommodate IoT.

Probably the most prominent of these is NB-IoT (Narrow Band IoT), which is designed to require significantly less power from modems, thus increasing battery life, which is of critical importance with embedded devices. Other named standards at this stage are Extended Coverage GPRS (EC-GPRS) and LTE Machine Type Communication (LTE-MTC), and they will all be included in 3GPP release 13, together with LTE-A Pro.

The GSMA has a ‘Mobile IoT Initiative’ that it says is supported by 27 of the world’s leading mobile operators, device OEMs, kit vendors and component makers, the stated purpose of which is to accelerate LPWA development, roll-out and adoption. The GSMA will also host a 3GPP ad-hoc working meeting during 18-22 January in Budapest to work towards finalising the details of the agreed NB-IoT standards and it expects to see the first commercial solutions start to appear later in 2016.

“This is an important step in enabling operators to deliver industry standard solutions by extending their existing high-quality managed networks, service platforms and world-class customer management capabilities,” said Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA. “The Low Power Wide Area market is a high-growth area of the Internet of Things and represents a huge opportunity in its development. A common and global vision will remove fragmentation, accelerate the availability of industry standard solutions and help the market to fulfil its potential.”

While it was in celebratory mood the GSMA also welcomed the recent data protection ruling by Europe, but with some reservations.

“The GSMA supports efforts to establish appropriate principles to guide data protection and privacy in an increasingly digitally connected world, said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer of the GSMA. “Although a single horizontal regulation that provides clear rules and procedures across sectors is a huge step forward in protecting European citizens’ privacy rights and data, there are a number of measures within the GDPR that need clarification.

“Importantly, the European Data Protection Board should work with national supervisory bodies across key sectors to provide further guidance on how to balance data protection and privacy compliance with economic growth and competitiveness, especially with regard to issues such as consent, children’s consent, big data, pseudonymisation and transfers of data to third countries. We also encourage the Board to work with national regulators to reduce bureaucracy on industry, in relation to the ‘one stop shop’ regime.

“The GDPR will be crucial to achieving a digital single market for Europe. To this end, the GSMA calls for legislators to address the inconsistencies between the existing ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC and the proposed GDPR. Legislation needs to ensure that consumers can enjoy consistent privacy standards and experiences, irrespective of the technologies, infrastructure, business models and data flows involved and regardless of who provides a service or where a company may be located.”

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