ECC Newsletter April 2016 – M2M Special Edition

ECC to support future needs for M2M applications

One of the CEPT's largest ever workshops took place in March, as 134 participants came together to discuss existing and future needs for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications.

The event was a first for Europe as it brought experts from the numbering and spectrum arena into the same room to discuss spectrum, numbering and harmonisation needs of M2M.

Opening of the M2M Workshop, 21-22 March 2016, Mainz, Germany

It was a timely workshop and one that was first proposed at the ECC's 40th meeting in July 2015 in response to related initiatives between spectrum and numbering popping up in various fora within the ECC.

M2M's possibilities and requirements have been discussed at ITU, ETSI, 3GPP, and, of course, CEPT meetings. At EU level, Internet of Things (IoT) is referred to in the Radio Spectrum Policy Program and the Radio Spectrum Policy Group has published some recommendations accordingly. The aim of the M2M workshop in March was to understand better the spectrum, as well as numbering and addressing harmonisation needs of existing and future M2M applications. To do this in one workshop was important as related initiatives are present in many fora within the ECC and a consistent and common approach across all fora is needed.

Hosted by the Federal Network Agency in Mainz, Germany, the two-day workshop touched upon a wide range of issues for the ever-expanding world of M2M. Participants included those from national regulatory authorities, industry representatives, experts and professionals. And even more – several hundred people - signed in worldwide to watch parts of the workshop unfold online through a live streaming service.

The fact that industry was present was important as it enabled an exchange of views and general discussion among representatives from the telecommunications, energy and automotive industries among others. Speakers from companies such as Vodafone, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, SIGFOX, and more, took to the stage to give their views on M2M and the requirements emerging as a result of this rapidly-evolving area.

The two-day event enabled a general consultation and an exchange of views between the industry and European administrations. The workshop identified a number of spectrum issues and numbering and addressing issues for which the ECC and its working groups will now consider, work on and revise their work programmes as appropriate.

But what is M2M? And where do numbering and spectrum come in when we discuss it?

The term M2M is all encompassing: any wired or wireless technology, or combination of technologies that enables connected devices to exchange information and perform actions typically without the manual assistance of humans in support of services to business customers and consumers.

A high degree of scalability will be required from IoT network solutions. The lifetime of these network solutions will exceed 10 years and this will also trigger the need for interoperability and often, the avoidance of “vendor-lock-in”.

Healthcare, retail, utilities, energy, transportation, automotive, construction, manufacturing, finance, insurance, banking and public services are all covered by M2M. And it is filtering right throughout our daily lives, from the connected home to the smart city.

Recent studies have found that M2M communications are set to grow rapidly. They have forecast a quadrupling of M2M traffic in wireless networks between 2015 and 2022. Some market sectors are expecting even bigger exponential growth.

In his opening remarks at the workshop Eric Fournier, Chairman of the ECC, said: “There are several regulatory regimes – smart cities, smart homes, smart networking and more. It involves a number of industry players from big ones to small ones - that's an important aspect of M2M.

“We decided to organise this workshop to try to ensure that we get all visions, all requirements from all sides of the industry”

Regulatory issues will inevitably arise as a result of this explosion in the usage of M2M. When it comes to spectrum, the harmonised bands are suitable for providing M2M services based on various systems such as 2G, 3G and 4G. Neutral usage conditions have been implemented in the ECC framework as mobile/fixed communication networks.

But this is only one piece of the whole story.

Other frequency bands and other radio applications - such as private mobile radio systems (PMR), public access mobile radio (PAMR), short range devices (SRDs) or radio local area networks (RLANs) - are all relevant when it comes to finding specific solutions for providing M2M communications.

Areas that were discussed over the two days included looking at the interest in dedicated spectrum for M2M networks, e.g. for critical utility control networks in the 400 MHz bands. It was examined whether the CEPT/ECC working group on Frequency Management should consider if LTE studies in this range could also take into account Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT). Other solutions presented at the workshop consist of networked short range devices in some parts of the 862-876 MHz and 915-921 MHz ranges.

With forecasts expecting M2M traffic in wireless networks to quadruple, this will undoubtedly cause pressure on the current use in frequency bands, especially below 1 GHz. In the future, spectrum usage below 1 GHz could be complemented with higher frequency bands.

In his opening remarks, Didier Chauveau, ECC PT1 Chairman said "Spectrum managers need to respond to the requirements from the markets and the pressure that's coming from the industry".

He recognised that while there is no single radio solution for all M2M applications, radio-based solutions aren't relevant alone: in many cases M2M applications rely upon a wired network infrastructure.

Similarly, there is no single numbering and addressing solution for all connected devices. In some cases public IPv4 or IPv6 addresses are preferable; in others further identifiers are used. For example, devices that are dependent on cellular coverage and require interoperability with public networks may need International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) numbers and possibly E.164 telephone numbers.

Johannes Vallesverd, Chairman of the CEPT/ECC working group on Numbering and Networks, pointed out that it is a complex structure.

While not all M2M devices will require public numbering resources, the demand will still be significant, he said.

Embedded smart card technology (“eUICC”or “eSIM”) and its potential to provide the solution to the “operator lock-in” issue was discussed.

Overall, it was a stimulating and productive two days as the workshop identified an array of spectrum, numbering and addressing issues. As the ECC and its working groups examine the outcomes of the workshop, they will consider and adapt their work programmes as appropriate.

Above all, the M2M workshop in March allowed experts from spectrum and numbering to come together to identify issues surrounding M2M.

It inspired a new appreciation of the work involved on both sides of the M2M coin, and it armed ECC members and industry with lots of insights to address the challenges and exploit the opportunities in the exciting and rapidly changing M2M arena.

Workshop presentations, photos, and first results are available on the workshop web-page.

1 To read details regarding ‘Leap second’ item in the article: WRC-15 AI 1.14 (Co-ordinated Universal Time and Leap Seconds) please click here.
2 To read details regarding nano- and picosatellites in the article ‘Size matters for satellites – big or small’, please click here.