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M2M Connected Technologies
Several connection technologies are used in M2M. Here is a brief overview.
WLAN in M2M
Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN), IEEE 802.11, is widely used in M2M devices. Wi-Fi, as 802.11 is commonly called, is also widely used for personal computers, tablets, smart phones, e-readers and gaming consoles. Wi-Fi networks are either supported by an access point or router, or are ad-hoc. The Wi-Fi Alliance (http://www.wi-fi.org) certifies Wi-Fi products for reliability and interoperability.
When Wi-Fi is used by an M2M indirect control node the device talks to the M2M gateway/router device but can’t provide data from other M2M indirect control nodes. The M2M gateway coordinates the network and acts as the trust center for the Wi-Fi security keys. There are various levels of security support for Wi-Fi networks that include encryption and key exchange. The M2M gateway and the direct node may use Wi-Fi to send data to the cloud. In those cases an Internet Service Provider (ISP) will be needed to support data transmission.
Wi-Fi range varies with the frequency used. Wi-Fi radios often support multiple bands and are backward compatible so that movable client devices are ensured of connectivity even when in the area of an older router. 802.11b/g generally supports a range of 120 ft (32 m) indoors to 300 ft (95 m) outdoors. 802.11n range is up to double that of 802.11b/g. 802.11a generally supports less than 802.11b/g ranges.
Kontron’s M2M System supports 300 Mbps throughput with 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz band for 802.11b/g/n and 5GHz band for 802.11a.
WPAN in M2M
IEEE 802.15.4 is a low power, low data transfer wireless mesh networking standard that provides a WPAN (wireless personal area network) often used in M2M devices. Frequent uses of 802.15.4 enabled devices include intelligent lighting systems, building/home automation, smoke and intrusion detection, health data and other sensing. Future revisions will support increased usage in consumer electronics by increasing features and flexibility.
When 802.15.4 is used in an M2M indirect control node the device talks to the M2M gateway/router device but can’t provide data from other M2M indirect control nodes. The M2M gateway coordinates the network and acts as the trust center for the 802.15.4 security keys.
There are several types of 802.15.4 networks that operate in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band worldwide and ISM (industrial, scientific, medical) 915MHz band in the US and Australia and 868 MHz in Europe.
Kontron’s M2M system supports 802.11.15.4.
ZigBee® devices must be certified by the ZigBee Alliance (http://www.zigbee.org) for reliable interoperability. All ZigBee Certified testing is completed by independent testing firms: NTS, TUV and TRaC Global.
Raw ZigBee over the air data rates range from 20 kbps to 250kbps. ZigBee protocols minimize the time the ZigBee radio is on to conserve battery life. Latency is low and devices can go from sleep to active mode in 30 seconds. Transmission range extends 33 to 246 feet (10-70 meters) and more for ZigBee pro.
6LoWPAN: Internet Protocol v 6 Over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks defines encapsulation and header compression mechanisms that allow IPv6 packets to be sent to and received from over 802.15.4 based networks for Smart Grid and other implementations.
WirelessHART: Highway Addressable Remote Transducer is an open-standard wireless mesh networking technology developed by HART Communications Foundation. The protocol utilizes a time synchronized, self-organizing, and self-healing mesh architecture. The protocol currently supports operation in the 2.4 GHz band using IEEE 802.15.4 standard radios. The HART Protocol was developed in the mid-1980s by Rosemount Inc. for use with a range of smart measuring instruments. Originally proprietary, the protocol was soon published for free use by anyone, and in 1990 the HART User Group was formed. In 1993, the registered trademark and all rights in the protocol were transferred to the HART Communication Foundation (HCF). The protocol remains open and free for all to use without royalties.
WWAN in M2M
2.5G, 3G and 4Gare the generations of standards for international mobile telecommunications. Broadband wireless wide area networks are used in cellular phones, computers, tablets, e-readers and other devices.
When WWAN is used by an M2M direct control node or by an M2M gateway the system talks directly to the cloud and security is managed by the network operator, or carrier. There are a plethora of WWAN technologies for each generation of standards and multiple operators in each country. Generally operators have purchased the rights to the spectrum used for their services and require qualification of any device to be sold for use on their network. Throughput varies based on the technology and operator allocations of spectrum.
Kontron’s M2M System supports the drop-in (or pre-installed option) of the pre-certified Ericsson 5521gw modem with drivers for the Kontron M2M Smart Services Developer Kit. The SIM card does not accompany the kit from Kontron and must be added by the developer for 3G connectivity. Drivers are needed to support other modems and may be available from middleware ISVs or others. Generally WWAN service providers require products to be tested on their network.
Ethernet in M2M
M2M systems may also use wired broadband connectivity to transfer data. All Kontron M2M systems support Ethernet connectivity.
Often M2M gateways will use wired broadband connectivity if the gateway is to be deployed in a stationary, non-mobile environment. The same is true for stationary direct nodes; wired Ethernet can be used for cloud transmission. In both cases Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be used for cloud access in lieu of WWAN providers.
All Kontron M2M Systems are Ethernet enabled.