Out-of-Band Management Featured Article

4G LTE a Boon for Machine-to-Machine Communications

October 02, 2012

  By Mae Kowalke
  Out of Band Management Contributor

Some consumers wonder if 4G LTE (News - Alert) really is all that necessary (it is—just remember when 500 MB hard drives seemed like an infinite amount of space). The question of usefulness is obvious when it comes to machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and remote infrastructure management (RIM), however.

There are at least four reasons why 4G LTE will rock M2M, according to the Opengear blog.

First, 4G LTE allows content rich M2M. The current crop of M2M was designed around 2G GPRS bandwidth, necessarily limiting the scope of what could benefit from M2M. With such data miserliness, current M2M applications are largely limited to basic telemetry such as remote sensor monitoring.

With 4G LTE bandwidth, M2M now can include biometrics, facial and voice recognition, the Opengear (News - Alert) post noted. This continuous audio and video stream capability has immediate use in the remote security industry, for instance, and the transport security and telematics fields.

Opengear also wrote that while 4G often is sold at a premium price right now, long-term cellular data plan prices will fall as HD video streaming becomes a reality.

“The proliferation of 3G tablets has already started the ball rolling,” the Opengear blog noted, “but nearly a decade of expensive data has caused the traditional M2M world to mostly leapfrog 3G, holding out for 4G.”

Often speed is the key metric cited when 4G LTE is discussed, but the latency improvements that come with 4G are a big boon for certain M2M applications. Sensitive systems such as SCADA and industrial control will benefit from such improvements.

Also, while the previous generation of M2M relied on carrier-level VPN for security, the extra bandwidth from 4G allows for end-to-end encryption between M2M devices. This cuts out the need for a MVNO middle man, which in turn cuts down on M2M cost.

“We’re already seeing next gen applications being deployed on the 3G network using Opengear cellular RIM appliances,” the blog noted. Examples cited include unmanned network installs on offshore oil platforms and roadside communications cabinets.

“RIM combines traditional M2M environmental and sensor monitoring with content rich video surveillance, on demand remote infrastructure control, and end-to-end encryption over the public cellular WWAN,” the blog explained.

So while consumers wonder if 4G is really all that necessary, business should have fewer doubts. As 4G LTE becomes the norm, M2M applications will get smarter and more plentiful.

Opportunities such as RIM will become more prevalent, too.

Great Britain’s Everything Everywhere telephone network described the rollout of 4G as “the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam,” according to an article in The Register. While that may be hyperbole, it may not be that far-fetched.

Does anyone smell a business opportunity?

Want to learn more about M2M technologies? Don’t miss the M2M Evolution Conference, collocated with ITEXPO Austin 2012 happening now in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at M2M Evolution Conference. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey