Today, we look into an exciting innovation shaping the future of wireless communication: the integration of LTE-M/NB-IOT and subGHz technologies in Sony’s advanced ALT1350 chipset. This breakthrough is not merely an incremental update; it represents a fundamental shift in enhancing device connectivity and reliability.
The World of Dual Connectivity
Robust Fallback Connectivity: Envision a scenario where devices maintain connectivity, seamlessly switching between networks. This capability is vital in critical infrastructure applications such as smart metering systems, where continuous connectivity is non-negotiable. Many devices already shipped today with dual connectivity to support backup network connectivity. In this type of integration of the solution we reduce the overall cost and improve the robustness of the application.
Intelligent Network Selection: These chipsets are engineered to intelligently select between LTE-M/NB-IOT and subGHz based on the prevailing environmental conditions and usage requirements, ensuring optimal connectivity and resource utilization.
OneSKU, One Platfofom, Multiple Advantages: The convergence of these networks within a single chipset SKU not only provides technical superiority but also operational agility. Companies can now manage a universal inventory, easing distribution and deployment complexities and further substantially reducing engineering expenses by using a single platform for different connectivity options, simplifying design and integration efforts.
The synergy of LTE-M/NB-IOT and subGHz opens many new innovative use cases. From agriculture technology that leverages deep penetration capabilities for soil analysis to urban infrastructure management using real-time data, these chipsets are at the forefront of technological evolution.
The ALT1350 chipset can already demonstrate seamless integration of WiSUN FAN Border Router function. This means that the ALT1350 chipset can setup and continuously maintain WiSUN FAN network, connecting other WiSUN leaf nodes (implemented by other ALT1350 devices), while at the same time maintaining seamless connectivity to the cloud using LTE-M/NB-IOT.
We’ve selected WiSUN FAN first, as it is one of the more advanced mesh technologies with open specifications, and this capability proves that the ALT1350 can support practically any subGHz standard in conjunction with LTE-M/NB-IOT connectivity, such as JUTA, wMBUS, Mioty or any other proprietary subGHz mesh technology.
The Technical Mastery of ALT1350 Shared RF
Innovations in RF Technology: At the core of Sony’s ALT1350 chipset lies the shared RF component, a testament to our commitment to technical excellence. It orchestrates the coexistence of LTE-M/NB-IOT and subGHz networks, ensuring seamless and efficient operation.
Independent, Yet Cohesive Network Operations: Each network operates independently within the ALT1350 chipset, ensuring that the performance of one does not impede the other. This results in a consistently stable and efficient connection, underpinning the reliability of the device.
Putting it to Practice – Smart Meters and Smart Lighting Use Cases
Large deployments of smart metering and smart lighting today, already use multiple types of connectivity. Connectivity protocol selection varies by cost, data throughput, latency, and other considerations. The chipset flexibility in network protocol selection enables maximal optimization, selecting the right protocol for each node in the network.
For instance, several dual connectivity chipsets can establish a network comprised of one device acting as WiSUN FAN border router and others as WiSUN local router (or leaf nodes). In this setup, a chosen node with LTE-M/NB-IOT connectivity acts as the Border Router, forming smaller, more resilient WiSUN mesh networks. This approach ensures a perfect mix of data communication needs, latency, and cost-efficiency, by gaining the most out of each node. It enables optimal balance between data load that needs to be sent to the network, with the latency (a big WiSUN network can accumulate significant delays in data transmission) and cost requirements.
Benefits of using Cellular IoT Based Dual connectivity solution.
Ease of deployment: Customers now can start off by implementing cellular IoT connectivity for their application using the ALT1350, and at later stages add mesh connectivity as solution matures. This flexibility enables a future proof deployment, to optimize costs based on the best protocol selection for each node.
Engineering Efficiency: Utilizing the ALT1350 for different connectivity options simplifies supply chain management, reduces inventory needs, achieves better economies of scale, through simplified supply chain of the product. Additionally, it lowers research and development costs as engineers develop and integrate on a single, familiar platform.
Robust Network Design: Dual connectivity solutions ensure the device is connected to the cloud even in challenging RF environments. Not only does it enable network selection for optimal cost/power, but also overcomes the disadvantages of each network connectivity protocol by providing the means to select a better suited protocol for the environment.
Furthermore, the LTE-M/NB-IoT can always be connected even while other network protocols are active, which unlocks new use cases for applications.
Real life example: “Drive By” use case
One of common use cases in the smart metering space, especially in Europe, is equipping smart meters with (subGHZ) wMBUS connectivity. As wMBUS does not have direct cloud connectivity (and it is non-IP based protocol), there is a need to use a separate gateway device, with cellular or other direct cloud connectivity, to collect the data from wMBUS enabled meters and send it to the cloud for further processing. To do this, Vendors need to drive by in the proximity of the meter carrying such gateway device, to extract the data and send it to the cloud.
The ALT1350 with it’s dual connectivity feature, is a perfect fit for such scenario, as ALT1350 based nodes in the network can accumulate the data over wMBUS from the meters in close proximity and send it directly to the cloud for processing. This approach not only enables seamless and continuous data transmission to the cloud, but also eliminates the necessity to manage manual data collection, including costly personnel and equipment which dramatically increases the total cost of ownership.
Cost Efficiency: Dual connectivity has long been desired, but practically has been hindered by the cost associated with mounting multiple radio chipsets onto the design. When examining different radio solution we realize substantial overlap between different radio technology, all use similar RF transceivers, power management, application processors. Integration into a single chip makes the entire solution substantially more affordable.
The ALT1350 leverages the strong cellular offering of Sony’s Altair chipsets, which have been successfully deployed in tens of millions of critical infrastructure devices worldwide and adds the same capabilities of a dedicated additional radio to support the subGHz network protocols.
This type of integration results in cost savings for the end device design, by utilizing the solid cellular framework and ecosystem to add additional network protocols support, without the need to mount an additional radio to the design, and building on the same platform SDK
Future Outlook: The Impact on Industry and Technology
Beyond Connectivity: A Paradigm Shift: The innovation of Sony’s ALT1350 chipset with integration of these technologies transcends conventional connectivity, catalyzing a new era in IoT applications and efficiency. It signals a shift towards a more interconnected and intelligent technological landscape.
Economic and Environmental Significance: This advancement is poised to drive significant cost efficiencies and environmental benefits across industries, underscoring the importance of sustainable and smart technology solutions.
Conclusion: Embracing a New Connectivity Era
In conclusion, the first ever fusion of LTE-M/NB-IOT and subGHz within Sony’s ALT1350 chipset is a pivotal moment in wireless technology. It shapes a future where devices are not only more connected but also smarter and more responsive to our needs. As we continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible, the potential for these technologies to reshape industries, optimize performance and unlock new use cases to improve lives is limitless.