Technologies

Our range of wireless connectivity products utilise well established and tested core technologies. Our aim is to provide you with an overview of the relevant technologies and a breakdown of the products within each type that we specialise in.

2G / 3G technology

2G refers to the second generation of mobile phone technology; in Europe based on the GSM standards. 2G technology offers digital encryption, ensuring that the radio link is more secure than earlier "analogue" technologies. 2G networks were launched in the 1990s, initially offering voice, circuit switched data (offering "landline modem replacement") and SMS bearer services. The ability to perform CSD (circuit switched data) calls resulted in the initial popularity of GSM modems in the M2M world. Field deployed telemetry devices, used on alarm systems, electricity meters, vending machines and many other applications, and requiring a dedicated landline, could now connect over the GSM networks instead, reducing costs and simplifying installation.

SMS has also proved to be a popular bearer service for M2M applications which are less time critical. The ability to communicate a significant amount of control / status information within a 140 character message, together with the simplicity of sending and receiving SMS and its store/forward transfer method paved the way for a range of M2M applications.

The most significant update to the 2G GSM network was the introduction of the General Packet Radio System (GPRS). This caused a paradigm shift in the utilisation of 2G networks, aligning 2G wireless communication with IP centric network architecture, integrating 2G gateways into client-server networks. Field deployed devices were able to report to centralised servers in real-time, using end to end IP packet based communication. Further enhanced by EDGE, which which enhanced uplink and downlink data rates, GPRS devices continue to be deployed today for less data intensive applications, due to low cost and excellent network coverage.

The advent of 3G technology in the mid 2000s offered significantly increased downlink and uplink speeds. For Europe, the UMTS standard was widely adopted, while both UMTS and CDMA2000 were deployed in the USA and South America. In the M2M market, adoption of 3G was relatively slow due to initial unreliability and low coverage. New market oportunities in digital signage and video security were primarily responsible for driving demand.

It is worth noting that , while 2G networks are likely to be maintained across Europe for some time, the technology is being withdrawn in USA to allow spectrum re-use. Products intended for the US market generally need to be 3G based as a minimum.

4G / LTE technology

4G / LTE is the most recently deployed network technology for mobile phones and data devices. While an evolution of 2G / 3G technologies, significant infrastructure upgrades have been required to provide 4G / LTE services. Theoretical data rates are 300Mb/s downlink and 75Mb/s uplink. Network latency has also improved, enhancing user experience for interactive services.

Voice services are planned for 4G / LTE; however devices currently rely on reversion to 3G or 2G to provide this facility. 4G / LTE does not offer circuit switched bearers so voice over LTE (VoLTE) will be a packet based sevice. VoLTE is planned for deployment during 2015.

4G / LTE is a globally adopted standard, developed by 3GPP. There are, however, local variations which must be taken into account when selecting devices for specific regions. The 4G / LTE standards support both FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) and  TDD (Time Division Duplexing). While current Eurpoean and US 4G/LTE networks tend to be based on LTE-FDD, China and some other Far Eastern countries are rolling out LTE-TDD, and there is an expectation that LTE-TDD will be rolled out globally alongside LTE-FDD. The 4G / LTE standards provide for both FDD and TDD; indeed the networks are substantially the same, so it is likely that operators will deploy core networks and utilise both FDD and TDD in the medium term. This will create demand for dual mode devices.

A wide range of frequency bands are utilised for 4G-LTE worldwide. As the technology matures, devices will support increasing numbers of frequency bands, but currently different devices are required for Europe and USA for example. A further complication is that devices fall back to earlier technologies if LTE is not available, and the required fall back technology varies. For example, devices used in the USA may need to fall back to 3G (UMTS) or to CDMA 1xEVDO.

Location technology

GPS

The most mature radio navigation system is the American Global Positioning System (GPS). This comprises of 31 (as of September 2014) satellites in Medium Earth Orbit managed by a network of ground stations. The commercial service (C/A) can provide accuracy in the 2 to 5 metre range in the right conditions. The military service (P / P(Y))   has a higher chip rate and much better accuracy.

(http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/space/)

Aided GPS (A-GPS) enhances GPS functionality. A-GPS decreases time to first fix (TTFF) and increases the effective sensitivity of the receiver during acquisition. Aiding data provides a device with satellite location information to optimise satellite search sequences. The data can be acquired on demand from a server, or it can be generated from a downloaded and stored file with “long term” orbital data. The third type of aiding utilises the processor on the GPS device to calculate its own aiding data by extrapolating expected satellite positions and storing them. This method does not rely on communication with a server.

GLONASS

This is a radio navigation system operated by Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. It has the same functional blocks as GPS. A space segment of 28 (as of September 2014) MEO satellites and a monitoring system situated across Russian territories. It can achieve an accuracy of 4 to 7 meters in the right conditions.  Differences in radio signals, time standards and geodetic datum need to be managed when adding GLONASS to GPS. GLONASS provides stronger signals and better coverage in northern latitudes compared to GPS. It is possible to “aid” GLONASS for improved performance.

(https://glonass-iac.ru/en/)

Galileo

A second generation radio navigation system being developed by Europe (ESA). When fully operational in 2015 / 2016 it will provide four services: Galileo Open Service (OS), Galileo Safety of Life (SoL) service, Galileo Commercial Service (CS), Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS). The space segment will consist of 30 MEO satellites, used In conjunction with EGNOS GEO satellites. Galileo can also be aided.

(http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation)

GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems)

GNSS refers collectively to multiple radio navigation systems. This technology merges the data from differing systems into a single position report. While GNSS receivers are more complex, they provide better performance due to increased satellite data in the location computation and greater resilience, as receivers are not dependent on one network. Some receivers only use one system at a time while other use multiple systems in parallel.

(http://www.furuno.com/en/business_product/gps/technical/tec_multi.html)

Dead Reckoning

Dead reckoning provides vector position update information from sources such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, wheel tick counters etc. Second by second DR systems are highly accurate, but over the longer term DR cumulative drift will exceed the errors of radio navigation system. By combining both DR and GNSS data in the same navigation engine, the user obtains the advantages of both systems. GNSS/DR provides a heading when stationary, it improves ground track and operates in tunnels and other area of restricted satellite visibility.

(http://www.furuno.com/en/business_product/gps/technical/tec_dead.html)