Thirty cities will connect to a new M2M network specifically geared towards the Internet of Things (IoT) by the end of 2016, according to Ingenu, the company building out the project.
The Machine Network, as it will be called, will be the "largest exclusive IoT and M2M network serving 100 million users across an area of the U.S. comprising nearly 100,000 square miles," the builder says.
Launch areas will include the Southwestern metro areas of Phoenix, Arizona, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas.
Ingenu was formerly called On-Ramp Wireless.
Random Phase Multiple Access
Ingenu's M2M and IoT network will use proprietary Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology.
Those radios run on unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum, according to Fierce Wireless, who has written about the company. The 2.4 GHz spectrum is also used for Wi-Fi.
"The technology is designed to avoid interference by being able to self-modulate within the band to find a clear signal at both the network and device level," Landon Garner, Ingenu's Chief Marketing Officer, said in the Fierce Wireless article.
Ingenu pitches its RPMA as being able to cover 300 square miles "per tower in real world conditions," it says on its website. In free space, it says RPMA can cover 2,000 square miles.
Interestingly, the impressive coverage is obtained through an emphasis on receiver sensitivity, rather than transmission power. Its antenna gain (in the U.S.) is also greater than found in cellular, or Ultra Narrow Band at 900 MHz, according to a white paper on the company's website.
Transmit Power Control is another feature.
That's "the ability to adjust the 'volume' of endpoints so that they do not always transmit at the same power," the white paper explains. "They can be reduced as more access points are added so that only the nearby access points can hear, and the farther away access points cannot."
Ingenu says that it wants to use 2.4 GHz in part because of the 80 MHz of bandwidth. It says that its technology is so efficient that it only needs 1 MHz to support an entire network—thus it gains flexibility when "locating frequency with less traffic," it explains in the white paper.
Another benefit to 2.4 GHz is that it's usable worldwide. Some other technologies, like those in the industrial 900 MHz/868 MHz band, require different setups in Europe, for example.
Look for more specific M2M rollouts as IoT kicks in.
RPMA isn't the only radio technology aimed at IoT. Other low-power, wide-area (LPWA) technologies such as LoRaWAN will emerge.
I've written about LoRaWAN before in "How Amsterdam is getting the most out of its city-wide IoT network."
It's being used there to connect sensors by The Things Network, an open, crowd-sourced data network.
French company Sigfox is another. It's working on the same kind of low-throughput communications.
Sigfox has said that "it will be in ten U.S. cities with its ultra-narrow band (UNB) network in the first quarter of 2016," according to LightReading. Sigfox is starting with San Francisco, LightReading says.
Not to be outdone by the new kids, the incumbent Mobile Network Operators such as Verizon are stomping their feet and pouting.
Verizon says it has earned $495 million so far this year from connected devices.
It's trying to differentiate itself through such methods as creating tiered Quality-of-Service IoT solutions, where traffic can be prioritized if it is mission critical. FierceWireless reported on that launch in September.
But it's early days. And there are already technologies out there too, including 802.15.4 Zigbee, which can use a mesh to gain distance.
We'll see what happens. It could be a case of who-shouts-loudest, or who's first out of the starting gate wins.
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