oneM2M releases 3.0 spec, DECT discusses future in 5G

Two prominent standards have surfaced this week, with oneM2M getting Release 3.0 of its IoT interoperability standard released, and DECT publishing a paper that outlines how the telco protocol plans to coexist with 5G – calling for the ITU-R to adopt its plan for an interoperability layer to bridge DECT with 5G. It’s not as strange an idea as it sounds, but it does have quite a hill to climb.

First, oneM2M has been wise to focus on the licensed spectrum LPWAN ecosystem (L-LPWAN). By our measure, it is on track to be worth far more than the unlicensed options (U-LPWAN) such as LoRa and Sigfox, and given its membership, there’s much more crossover in L-LPWAN, and currently a lot more money at stake.

But this isn’t to say that there isn’t room for oneM2M in other applications. Unlicensed personal area networks (PAN) like Bluetooth and Zigbee have big roles to play, and for campus-based deployments, like a business park or university, a U-LPWAN like LoRa makes much more sense than an L-LPWAN choice, due to the exorbitant monthly costs. A university could likely achieve 100% coverage with a handful of U-LPWAN base stations, or by adding USB dongles to its next campus WiFi project – something that Ruckus (Arris) has teased at.

The new L-LPWAN oneM2M additions include: Device Enrolment, for providing devices with security credentials, authentication, and network registration; Location Tracking, via live tracking and the storage of previous locations, which can be used to alert higher-level applications; Manage Data Delivery, for prioritizing and scheduling messages to constrained devices; Network Communication Pattern Recognition, for optimizing network resources based on input from higher-level apps; and Sleep Device Waking, to query a sleeping device when needed.

Formed in 2012, oneM2M houses eight major standards organizations: ARIB (Japan), ATIS (USA), CCSA (China), ETSI (Europe), TIA (US), TSDSI (India), and TTC (Japan). In addition, there are four prominent industry bodies (CEN, CENELEC, GlobalPlatform, and OMA SpecWorks), and then over 200 other members.

Release 1 was launched in February 2015, containing ten specifications that addressed core IoT and M2M building blocks, enabling applications to interwork with each other. Prominent were HTTP, MQTT, CoAP, and OMA and the Broadband Forum’s device management specifications.

oneM2M updated Release 1 in March 2016, adding support for the AllSeen Alliance’s AllJoyn, the Open Connectivity Foundation’s IoTivity, and the Open Mobile Alliance’s LightweightM2M (LWM2M). As an indicator of the amount of consolidation happening in this space, the OCF swallowed AllSeen, and OMA and IPSO joined forces too.

Release 2 appeared in September 2016, retaining the focus on mobile and industrial IoT applications, and building on the basic connectivity between applications and devices. oneM2M said that the 17 specifications addressed the critical area of security, access control policies, and semantic interoperability (a common way of speaking and writing), for better device communication and cooperation. In the launch, oneM2M pointed to healthcare, transportation, energy, and public services, as candidates for adoption.

This brings us to Release 3. The past two years have seen oneM2M focus on accommodating 3GPP interworking, in particular the LTE Cat-M and Cat-NB LPWAN protocols. Key to this is the new 3GPP Service Capability Exposure Function (SCEF), which is how the oneM2M specifications are going to play nicely with the low-power optimizations that the 3GPP has introduced recently.

oneM2M argues that the growing momentum in LPWAN as a whole is expected to drive large volumes of low-cost connected devices, and that success in this market depends on being able to collect and share data from these heterogenous populations. Essentially, everyone prospers if their devices can speak to neighbors, to tap into opportunities higher up the value chain.

“The ultimate goal of oneM2M is to open up the IoT ecosystem and improve the business case for players looking to launch services,” said Omar Elloumi, of Nokia, Technical Plenary Chair at oneM2M. “Release 3 does exactly this by creating an abstraction layer that simplifies the exchange of cross-silo data. Furthermore, by supporting a set of 3GPP-defined APIs, Release 3 opens up new revenue streams for mobile operators while lowering the cost of deployments.”

A good way to get an overview of oneM2M is actually to skim through the list of technical specifications. There are 26 in Release 3, significantly more than Release 2, and just as a heads up, the TS-0001 Release 3 document that outlines the Functional Architecture contains 167,092 words, so peruse at your own risk.

Moving on to DECT, the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications standard that almost certainly powers your wireless landline phone, where the DECT Forum, the group managing the standard, has outlined how it thinks the protocol will function in the world of 5G. Riot has been a fan of DECT’s Ultra Low Energy (ULE) specification, as contender to the likes of Zigbee and Bluetooth.

As such, it was a little strange to see 5G and DECT in the same headline, as DECT is such an established technology that it’s almost fair to call it legacy. It is still vital, but it is pretty far removed from the bleeding edge of 5G – which still only has a standard for its New Radio (NR) interface.

However, the DECT Forum makes the point that around 80% of mobile network data traffic is generated indoors, and that as predominantly indoor technologies, DECT and ULE have a role to play here. The Forum argues that within the context of 5G, the potential applications for DECT and ULE could significantly expand, into industrial and healthcare markets.

Simply put, the DECT Forum wants to create an interworking protocol, called DECT-5G, that would allow DECT and ULE to seamlessly interface with the 3GPP’s 5G specs, which in turn would allow DECT-based applications to emerge wherever there was a 5G connection.

However, the DECT Forum has to convince the 3GPP (which should really be called the 5GPP now, shouldn’t it) to adopt DECT-5G in its IMT-2020 – the specification being developed by the ITU-R. It is an interesting argument to read through, and is available here.

A major point in DECT’s favor is the royalty free radio spectrum that it has access to, but the Forum believes that DECT can enable 5G’s eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband), URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications), and mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications).

But DECT’s ULE specification has struggled to gain much traction in the IoT market, which will count against this argument. Sure, there are whispers that it is finding support from CSPs that are interested in using the protocol as part of their smart home offerings, but consumer electronics have yet to pay much (if any) collective attention to the very promising protocol.