Global chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies and IoT platform developer Gizwits have announced a new partnership that will see the two companies work to develop the world’s first commercial 2G cellular modules with field upgrades to LTE IoT (eMTC/Cat-M1 and NB-IoT/Cat-NB1).
The Quectel BG36 module is aimed to be compatible with China Mobile’s network and will be manufactured by Quectel, based on the Qualcomm MDM9206 LTE IoT modem.
The module will be powered by the Gizwits IoT cloud services and will be designed to help developers, device manufacturers and service providers create economical 2G solutions.
Qualcomm says the modules will also be flexible and long-lasting as they will support future over-the-air activation of NB-IoT and eMTC as the cellular ecosystem transitions toward the latest LTE IoT standards.
This capability is intended to allow IoT devices to use the cellular technology that is best suited for today’s use cases, while being able to accommodate emerging requirements throughout the device lifetime.
According to Qualcomm, this will serve to support commercial and enterprise solutions in case of new cellular network technology deployments and changes, allowing end-customers to take advantage of new network features and more convenient connectivity economics that arise down the track.
Qualcomm Technologies senior vice president and general manager for 4G/5G and industrial IoT, Serge Willenegger says, “The expansion of IoT depends on the ecosystem’s ability to deliver vast amounts of solutions featuring edge intelligence and flexible connectivity that stays current through the device life.
“We are grateful of the opportunity to work with Gizwits, China Mobile Shandong Branch and Quectel. Our focus is to offer the technology solutions that the IoT ecosystem requires to grow, helping manufacturers and solution providers connect and manage massive amounts of devices in a trusted, security-rich and scalable manner. This is the vision behind our Qualcomm wireless edge services.”
The Quectel BG36 module is planned to be powered by the Qualcomm MDM9206 LTE IoT modem, a purpose-built solution with global multimode capabilities, including eMTC/Cat-M1, NB-IoT/Cat-NB1 and 2G/E-GPRS.
It is designed to support the development of cost-efficient, low-power devices with multi-year battery life and greater coverage for the next-generation of IoT services as compared to traditional LTE connectivity.
Gizwitz CEO Jack Huang says, “The IoT enabling infrastructure is rapidly evolving. A challenge during this growing process for developers and manufacturers is the concern that the products they deliver today may not work well in tomorrow’s environment.
“For example, telecommunication operators throughout the world are phasing out 2G networks, leaving manufacturers with the tough choices of either sticking with the 2G modem technology that has worked well but may not be supported in the near future, or switching to LTE technologies, such as NB-IoT or eMTC, with limited network coverage in many regions.
“Our anticipated work with Qualcomm Technologies, China Mobile Shandong Branch and Quectel, is designed to allow developers to confidently create and deploy cost-effective IoT solutions whose modem technology can be upgraded on-demand using Gizwits IoT cloud Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to take advantage of the increasingly mature LTE networks,” Huang continues.
“The ability to use the cloud to activate new capabilities of the cellular modem on an IoT device will be an important innovation, and a key milestone in the development of the IoT ecosystem.”
Following the planned initiative with Gizwits and Quectel around BG36, Qualcomm Technologies plans to make modem upgrade capabilities broadly available through Qualcomm wireless edge services (WES) by the first half of 2019.
Qualcomm WES is expected for release at end of this year, and will be designed to facilitate the deployment of edge devices at scale.
Qualcomm says WES will accomplish this by providing efficient zero-touch life-cycle management through services such as plug-n-play onboarding with security, on-demand provisioning, over-the-air feature activation of relevant chipset features, and third-party service enablement throughout the device life-cycle.