It may seem like there already is a plethora of Internet of Things connectivity options, but at least one more is on the way, likely to be commercially available by next year.
The DECT-2020 New Radio (NR) standard, one of the latest additions to the long-standing DECT family of wireless standards, was unveiled a year ago next month by the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI). It is being positioned as a “non-cellular 5G technology” that could serve needs for both massive machine-type communications (mMTC) and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC), both of which are inherent to many industrial IoT infrastructures and applications.
Essentially, the technology could give enterprises deploying IoT networks another technology option for building their own private networks without the cost and complications of having to work with public 5G network operators or the established giants among the 5G infrastructure vendors. To date, those companies have been positioning cellular technologies like NB-IoT, CAT-M and LoRa for such deployments.
The key contributor to the DECT-2020 NR standard is Wirepas, a Finnish company which this week announced it had raised an additional 10 million Euros ($11.8 million U.S.) from existing investors Estonia-based Karma Ventures and Finland state-owned financing arm Tesi that will help Wirepas to turn DECT-2020 NR from a standard into a commercial product.
In an email to Fierce Electronics, Wirepas said DECT-2020 NR should not be confused with cellular 5G’s pre-occupations with ever-greater bandwidth, and isn’t comparable to 5G-enabled smartphones. “It is instead focused on connecting millions of devices per square kilometer (simulations are showing over 4M per square km.) in mesh networks on license-free bands to enable rapid, infrastructure-less 5G for billions of IoT devices.”
“Thanks to the great market interest and lead customers’ fast time to market targets, we have decided to accelerate the first non-cellular 5G product development,” said Teppo Hemiä, CEO of Wirepas, in a statement. “We knew our solution was special and the need has become even more apparent and urgent over the past several months. This new injection of funds will help us continue to do what’s in our customers’ best interest, and that’s getting it done efficiently and as soon as possible. We target to have the commercial launch in 2022.”
“We are convinced that Wirepas is changing the IoT landscape forever,” added Tommi Uhari, Partner at Karma.
Wirepas is not starting from scratch as it attempts to live up to that praise. It already claims to have more than 200 clients, including Fujitsu, Prologis, Wurth, Schaeffler, Orange and Fagerhult for Wirepas Massive, its current large-scale mesh connectivity software for mMTC IoT applications. The new funding will go toward strengthening Wirepas’ “longer-term research and to further develop the leading Massive IoT technology. Wirepas will also be hiring with a focus on development, testing and delivery, all aspects needed to successfully bring the solution to market,” the company said.
Though Wirepas took the lead in standard development, other companies working with the new technology include Nordic Semiconductor ASA; BMWi; OVE; RTX A/S; SHURE Europe GmbH; Sennheiser Electronic GmbH; DSPG Edinburgh Ltd; Wireless Partners S.L.L. and Gigaset Communications GmbH, all of whom participated in the development of the standard, Wirepas said.