Hardly a month goes by without a new communications protocol staking its claim for a critical role in the IoT. These may be in the wide, local or personal area network, and each one usually, beneath the big vision statements, has quite particular strengths and target use cases.
This makes efforts like OneM2M important, as they seek to create cross-platform protocols to allow these many networks to interwork, and to protect early adopters from technology dead ends. This defines an abstraction layer between applications and the various network protocols and was created as a joint effort between a bewildering array of standards bodies and industry alliances. Its idea was to accelerate its development by reusing elements from its stakeholders’ existing standards, such as the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 specification and the Open Mobile Alliance’s network management definitions.
The ultimate aim is that regulators will endorse a OneM2M label to boost confidence by kitemarking interoperable products, rather like the WiFi Alliance certification program or even the CE Mark.
OneM2M was ratified as a standard by ETSI in January and real world projects are starting to emerge. SK Telecom in Korea has been the leader, deploying a prototype platform based on OneM2M specifications. But an interesting aspect of the IoT is that networks will often not be deployed by conventional carriers but by vertical market companies and integrators, and by cities.
The first smart city project to trial OneM2M is Turin, Italy, a program which is part of the European Union Almanac initiative, along with Copenhagen, Stockholm and others. Turin has adopted the software stack to allow developers to create valuable apps with standard web tools, and with no need to understand “Sigfox or LoRa or other networks”, as Roberto Gavazzi, program manager on the project for Telecom Italia, told EETimes. Several different networks will be in use in Turin to support its wide range of application trials, ranging from the usual lighting and parking apps, to bike sharing and robotics.
Turin and Telecom Italia are also implementing one of the latest protocols to target the IoT, and the smart city in particular, M-Bus, which was initially developed specifically for metering but which is addressing some additional use cases now. Turin will install 25,000 M-Bus systems in the 169 MHz band for a one-year pilot. It was chosen because it is low cost and low power and, unlike LTE-M, available now. It was also seen as being preferable to Sigfox and LoRa because it is a formal standard, ratified by the European Commission in 2005.
There is also a nationwide plan to use M-Bus to support gas meters, with a target of equipping 60% of those, or 12m units, by 2018. Other countries are also interested in M-Bus for metering, including France (which will implement it for gas and water units from next year, also in 169 MHz). Germany and the Netherlands are adopting the technology in the 868 MHz band according to Texas Instruments, one of the original developers of the spec.