By Joey Jackson
Battery life has become an increasing concern with the growth of the “Internet of Things.” Many IoT devices are not located near a battery source, so they need long-lasting batteries to make them viable parts of the IoT ecosystem. Ericsson and AT&T teamed up with chipmaker Altair to address the IoT battery life issue, and will demonstrate their new LTE Power Saving Mode for commercial IoT, which could allow the batteries to last up to 10 years, at GSMA Mobile 360 in Atlanta.
“IoT connectivity is essential to helping businesses stay tethered to their assets around the world,” Cameron Coursey, VP of product development at AT&T’s IoT organization, said. “Whether a trucking company hauls expensive cargo across the country or a restaurant transports fresh food overseas, a long battery life on their connected devices can help them provide continuous service. Businesses can save money and become more efficient with battery replacements every few years rather than every few months.”
The new technology could mean batteries last the lifetime of the device, saving the time and money it takes to replace the batteries.
Kathryn Weldon of Current Analysis thinks this could be a game changer for industrial IoT. “Long-lasting batteries are very important for certain industrial Internet use cases, because many deployments include wirelessly connected (and in some cases power-hungry) assets that are in the field for long periods of time without human intervention,” she said. “For example, in mining and utilities verticals, (including both energy and water-level monitoring), companies have long-term contracts with OEMs and carriers that provide them with remote sensor reading/data transmission, but if the battery in the wireless module dies it may be relatively inaccessible for maintenance crews to fix, or the fact that it is not working may not even be recognized for a long period of time. Some of these devices may be in the field for 5-10 years without ever being serviced (in fact we hear that mobile operators often have long-term deals in the 5- to 10-year range for these kinds of deployments).”
The Power Saving Mode is a feature of Ericsson’s Evolved Packet Core for GSM and LTE networks. It allows devices to enter sleep mode for hours or even days at a time, only waking up when they are needed.
“Ericsson is effectively addressing the challenge of battery life with a software-onlyupgrade to existing LTE networks,” Thomas Norén, VP and head of radio product management at Ericsson, said. “Ongoing standardization of low-power, low-cost LTE modules and devices specifically targeted at IoT applications will fuel stronger growth in the LTE segment. AT&T and Ericsson are committed to LTE for IoT and jointly supported a recent 3GPP work-item for NB-IoT targeted for inclusion in 3GPP Release 13 in 2016 for ultra-low cost applications.”
The module being used for the demo was developed by Telit, in cooperation with Altair. The LE866 module supports LTE Category 1 enhancements for machine-type communications; the footprint is 15 x 25 millimeters.
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