What 4G Means to M2M

weBoost | August 2, 2012

The number of connected machines (both M2M enabled machines and consumer devices) will eventually surpass the number of people on the planet. In many ways machine-to- machine technology is still in its infancy but with data becoming more and more of a necessity that will change in the next several years. Everything from M2M applications in cars, to monitoring utilities, to DVD kiosks, to soda vending machines have to communicate various data back to respective headquarters. Regardless of its current state most mobile experts agree on one thing: M2M is about to have one heck of a growth-spurt.

The big question is: With 4G becoming more prevalent what does 4G mean to M2M? There are varying opinions on this, which we’ll discuss in the following paragraphs.

There are many that think current 2G networks are sufficient for all M2M applications, at least at this point. Yes, that’s right, most current M2M applications run on 2G technologies at the moment. The reason, according to Tom Inglesby in an article written for Connected World Magazine: “Traditionally M2M applications have been pretty low data rates that don’t require much bandwidth to operate.”

Inglesby also includes this statement from Mark Ritorto of Harbor Research: “You might expect a few megabytes a month from something like a substation monitor or automation system, they just aren’t high data rates. If you’re just checking on the status of an asset every so often then generally it’s a couple of kilobytes here and there. We found there to be a few potential areas that 4G technologies would be better at addressing for M2M than the current 2G and 3G networks.”

Concerning upgrading from 2G, many folks say the 3G upgrade should be skipped altogether. That being said, many experts don’t agree with this strategy. Why? M2M analyst John Keough, formerly of the Yankee Group explains: “In the short term, limitations in LTE coverage may cause inconsistent cellular performance across M2M deployments with large footprints, such as telematics…Deployments in the utility space and telematics space, for example, need to be in the field for eight to 10 years, which allows ample time to build out 4G networks.”

These are just a few ‘food-for-thought’ points regarding 4G and M2M. At the end of the day 4G doesn’t affect M2M much…at least in the short-run. However, as the industry grows, more data is required and less 2G and 3G bandwidth is available there will be major 4G upgrades in the not-to-distant future.

Remeber, Wilson Electronics has M2M products as well! Check out this video below to learn more–