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Looking to the Future, O2 Expands IoT offerings with LTE-M in the UK

February 13, 2020 / AJINKYA BAGADE
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  • The LTE-M network provides higher throughput, with wide coverage for urban and rural areas, and lower latency.

  • The technology will allow businesses to support millions of connected devices, driving increased operational efficiencies.

  • The new LTE-M networks could potentially power some of the prominent sectors in the UK.

Going live with 50 sites, O2 is set to grow its IoT (Internet of Things) offering by becoming the first network to announce the introduction of an LTE-M (Long Term Evolution, category M1) network in the UK.


The investment reflects O2 Business’s focus on IoT as a growth area, as a move towards long-range IoT communication on a huge scale.


The announcement came soon after, the US Cellular announced the launch of its LTE-M network, first in the US.

 

What does the LTE-M rollout mean for the UK?



O2 plans to roll out the low-power IoT technology to enable business applications like asset tracking, connected traffic lights, parking sensors, soil monitoring, assisted living alerts and more.



Introducing a nationwide LTE-M network in 2020 will help unlock low-power use cases we haven’t seen before: from asset tracking and public sector applications like sensors on signage and traffic lights, right through to parking sensors and soil monitoring. We’re looking forward to partnering with UK businesses to bring these use cases to life..

- Paul O’ Sullivan, Director of Wholesale & Commercial, O2

The new network will help unlock widespread uptake of long-life IoT battery devices out in the field.
A low-power, wide-area network (or LPWAN), the new LTE-M network from O2 is designed to help encourage massive scale for future IoT deployment in the UK. The technology will allow businesses to support millions of connected devices, driving increased operational efficiencies and insights. It also provides higher throughput, with wide coverage for urban and rural areas, and lower latency. Moreover, it saves on battery life (with devices running for up to 10 years with no need to charge) as it allows businesses to share small amounts of data between assets at low power consumption.



O2 plans to roll out the LTE-M network designed specifically to address IoT needs by delivering a speed of around 1 Mbps through 1.4 MHz of bandwidth. Most IoT devices are fairly simple like traffic lights and street lamps, and therefore, do not require more than 0.1 Mbps.



READ MORE: Nok nok labs introduces new SDK for IoT devices authentication



Transforming the UK with the Internet of Things


The new LTE-M networks could potentially power some of the prominent sectors in the UK:

 

Smart cities:


• Parking sensors: To monitor and report parking space availability.
• Traffic lights: Sending updates between traffic lights (including real-time traffic monitoring).
• Waste management: Status monitoring for waste containers to help optimize waste collection.


Consumer goods: Smart bicycles – For location tracking.


Smart buildings: Smoke detectors – Auto-testing, battery checks, real-time alerts.


Healthcare: Assisted living – Temperature sensors and alerts.


Industrial: Tank process and safety monitoring – For applications such as petrochemical and waste storage, hazardous fluids, high radio frequency interference environments.


Agricultural: Tracking and monitoring – For soil, temperature and weather conditions.


Retail: Logistics – For asset tracking (e.g. pallets, goods) and real-time visibility of the wide area (trucks) and indoor wide area (warehouses).



IoT technology has the potential to transform the way the UK does business, so to become the first UK network operator to roll out an LTE-M network is a major milestone for us here at O2. We know that businesses looking into IoT solutions want answers now, not in five to ten years.

- Paul O’ Sullivan, Director of Wholesale & Commercial, O2

Locally, O2's rival  Vodafone UK has been a big advocate of NB-IoT, the alternate standardized LPWA solution. The company launched its network in 2019 and, at the group level, has deployed NB-IoT across its European footprint, including Germany, Italy, and Spain.



O2 is focusing on IoT as a long-term area of growth. It has made significant developments in its IoT offering to date, by providing smart meters across the UK in one of the world's largest IoT deals. The company is now working on trials to bring new LTE-M applications to market via its new network, including projects relating to smart cities, retail and healthcare.
 

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