GSM is widely used today for millions of devices, as its costs are relatively low, but mobile broadband technologies are more expensive, may have worse coverage, and take too much power for things that may have to work for years on small batteries. Though many “things” may be connected using short range wireless, many more will be beyond the reach of systems like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Zigbee.
A group of industry players, including network and device suppliers, operators and academics, brought together by Vodafone, has been looking at the problem of supporting the “Internet of Things” for the past year and has recently published a White Paper outlining the options. These include further new features in LTE that would be defined through 3GPP; or an alternative “clean slate” cellular standard defined specifically to meet the needs of the IoT. Any future system will need to connect “things” that don’t have large amounts of data to communicate; can be in hard-to-reach locations such as manholes, meter closets, and in very isolated locations; and need to operate for years on small batteries.