Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Deutsche Telekom unveils LTE-M programme finalists

Steve Rogerson
December 6, 2018



Deutsche Telekom unveiled the finalists of the Hubraum LTE-M prototyping programme at a summit in Vienna last month. This is part of its preparation for the roll out of its 5G-ready LTE-M technology in 2019 with the accelerated development of LTE-M products and services.
 
The initiative was established by Deutsche Telekom’s in-house tech incubator Hubraum in cooperation with its ICT services arm T-Systems. It builds on already implemented prototyping programmes for NB-IoT.
 
Almost 150 start-ups and IoT-specialist companies from across Europe and the USA submitted LTE-M-based proposals to the programme. Eighteen from 12 countries spanning various industries were selected for further cooperation in prototyping LTE-M use cases.
 
With Deutsche Telekom’s support they have implemented LTE-M connectivity and tested the prototypes in Krakow, Berlin, Reutlingen, Rotterdam or Vienna, where local LTE-M test networks are available. The tests were conducted to validate the first LTE-M connections for their prototypes and to explore commercial aspects.
 
“The summit is the highlight of our prototyping activities and will provide most interesting insights into the business opportunities of LTE-M,” said Ingo Hofacker, senior vice president at Deutsche Telekom. “We are concurrently working towards first LTE-M network launches in several of our European markets by mid-2019. These will enable our customers to develop and test their LTE-M-based devices and applications. LTE-M is an exciting 5G-ready technology and a natural extension of Deutsche Telekom’s mobile IoT strategy. It completes the IoT landscape as it offers a whole new set of possibilities where other technologies are limited.”
 
The Hubraum finalists have developed innovative products across several industry sectors, most notably in the areas of smart city, wearables, e-health and smart tracking. Neebo in the UK, for example, has created a miniature wearable so small it can be placed around a newborn baby’s wrist and monitor his or her vital signs.
 
The Dutch company Babbler has developed a high-value industrial asset tracker. It tracks cargo containers over long distances and connects them to security alarms to alert for theft or damage. Security is also the focus for Inshoerance in Germany, which has invented smart insoles with a built-in alarm sensor that can be activated by the wearer tapping their feet together. These safety shoes can be used by professionals in dangerous workplaces or by people at risk of being kidnapped.
 
LTE-M can also support smart city and smart building applications, such as connecting energy meters or air conditioning, in offerings that require more than the periodic one-way transmission of small amounts of data or need to be mobile. For example, Polisens.io in Estonia has developed air quality sensors, which are attached to buses and provide a holistic map of air pollution across a city.
 
LTE-M is a technology designed for IoT connectivity. It enables long battery lifetime and supports low-cost modules, while providing fast data throughput as well as good indoor coverage. LTE-M combines the advantages of NB-IoT and LTE technologies, and can therefore address a different set of use cases.
 
When compared with NB-IoT, LTE-M is said to offer higher data rates (up to 1Mbit/s), lower latency, connected mobility (the ability of a technology to do handover between cells), SMS support and, at a later stage, voice (VoLTE). Its indoor coverage and expected battery life are nearly as good as that of NB-IoT.
 
As LTE-M is based on the LTE 3GPP standard, it is 5G-ready and only requires a software update in the network; 3GPP has agreed that the NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies will continue evolving as part of the 5G specifications, meaning Deutsche Telekom can leverage investments already made and continue as part of the 5G evolution.