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Cellular IoT devices in the testing phase

June 25, 2018

Some applications can be extrapolated from existing products and services.

Researchers at the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT) have begun testing 5G-enabled

DO Supply's Daniel Browning

wireless IoT devices. The plans for this test bed were described in a recent paper published by researchers at the university, printed in the journal Advances in Communication, Devices and Networking. They represent another step toward the development and market release of 5G networking and 5G-enabled IoT devices.

Let’s take a look at how 5G-enabled IoT technology will fit into the larger context of cellular devices and the technology’s potential applications...

Efforts to create a testing environment for 5G IoT devices

One of the technologies that will be involved in testing at SMIT’s new test bed is the next generation of cellular networking protocols (5G) that is currently under development and set to deploy in 2020. Wireless IoT devices built with 4G and/or 5G networking support are also part of the testing process.

Here, we will look at what it’s taken to develop a testing environment suited to each:

Developing 5G standards is a task of international scale

Telecommunications standards from 2G (such as GPRS and EDGE) to 5G are agreed upon by various standards associations from around the world through multilateral collaboration. These standards associations organize through the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which was originally created to create globally standardized specifications for 3G mobile phone technologies, starting in the late 1990s.

The scope of the 3GPP has grown since its inception to encompass standards-development and maintenance of technologies backdating to 2G cellular technologies and looking forward to 5G networks. The standards group oversaw the development and deployment of 4G cellular technologies (including LTE standards) in the early 2010s and is currently developing 5G standards.

These 5G standards encompass telecommunications standards for IoT devices and technologies that are currently under development. With these new devices, new challenges arise.

How 5G will tailor to the needs of IoT

Qualcomm, a major telecommunications equipment company, released proposed standards in June 2016 that address the challenges created by accommodating narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) devices in the next generation of networking standards. These NB-IoT devices are the standard for next-generation IoT devices that will be equipped to connect to the internet via cellular-network infrastructures, rather than through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections.

In addition to fitting into the proposed NB-IoT standards from Qualcomm and the already existing 5G standards from 3GPP, the development of a 5G protocol for NB-IoT devices must also meet the constraints created by:

The technological demands of NB-IoT devices

Services provided by NB-IoT devices will call for maximum reliability while keeping network latency and device-energy-consumption low. The most mission-critical among these services may include anything from private industrial automation to smart public energy-grid technologies.

The implementation of extended coverage for IoT devices

Extended coverage is a protocol that will enable high connectivity of cellular devices (nearly) worldwide. Network coverage becomes “extended” through a mesh handover network that can connect devices even in hyper-remote areas. For example, extended coverage would enable an NB-IoT device located on a remote island to send messages to the mainland by allowing the device to relay messages through nearby boats that have a network connection to land. This protocol will thus provide NB-IoT connectivity in places around the world that normally do not have mobile network coverage and can increase reliability in locations where connectivity already exists.

What will 5G IoT devices do?

Researchers are beginning development on IoT devices that will be network-enabled, but some of the possible applications of NB-IoT and 5G technology can be extrapolated from existing products and services.

For example, the Apple Watch Series 3 is a smart watch with built-in LTE networking technology. This allows Apple users with a wireless carrier plan to stay connected to their network using only their watch, enabling them to send and receive notifications, interact with web applications, and do many other internet-enabled tasks.

The contexts for applying wireless IoT technologies are numerous:


In the sector of transit alone, applications of IoT are being researched to see how the technology can make driving safer, public transit better, and the movement of goods to and around cities more efficient.


Providing better healthcare through the use of connective technology can be done through remote patient-monitoring, real-time health alerts, and data-based public-health interventions.

Public safety

Police can be enabled by IoT to do automated gunshot detection, quickly responding to the use of firearms. IoT also enables smart surveillance systems that can identify faces, license plates, and other personal characteristics to aid in policing. Of course, with each of these applications come important ethical questions to answer.

As the future of wireless devices is developed in labs around the world, the possibilities enabled by 5G IoT devices are becoming more real each day, and the implementation of a test bed for these technologies represents only the beginning of these developments.

Daniel Browning is a staff writer for DO Supply Inc.

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another step toward the development and market release of 5G networking