Published: 19 May, 2011
As operators get increasingly interested in machine-to-machine services, they are keeping a sharp eye on standards and devices to underpin these networks. European telecoms body ETSI is due to publish global standards for the connectivity protocols this year, and there is intensive activity around the 802.15.4 platform that underpins ZigBee.
Standards will be one prerequisite if optimistic analyst forecasts for M2M services are to come true. According to a new report by Juniper Research, these revenues will grow to $35bn by the end of 2016, with the most important sectors being consumer and commercial telematics; smart grid; point of sale; banking; mobile health monitoring; and smart buildings/security. And in the utilities sector alone, connections will rise to 1.5bn worldwide by 2010, generating revenues of €24bn for the various players involved, according to specialist forecasters Machina Research.
One start-up looking to enable such systems, and to help create the 'internet of everything', is Neul, a company set up by several founders of Bluetooth major Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR). They aim to harness the white spaces in the TV spectrum to support a global standard for M2M communications.
The company will use the ETSI networking standards and will then apply them to the white spaces, which have been opened up for license exempt wireless data use in the US. "We will enable completely new kinds of devices, services and business models. We are creating the Internet of Everything," the company claims on its web site.
According to EETimes, UK-based Neul was founded in 2010 by CEO James Collier; as well as CTO William Webb, director Glen Collinson, VP of engineering Robert Young, and VP of software systems Neil MacMullen. Collier, Collinson and Young were all co-founders of CSR in 1998 - the firm went on to be the market leader in Bluetooth and went public in 2004.
Neul - which means cloud in Gaelic - says it already has a portfolio of proprietary and patented intellectual property, as well as hardware platforms, protocol stacks and physical network infrastructure. It is vague about its exact technology, but claims the terminals and modules will be sufficiently low power and low cost to scale up to networks of billions of devices. Ericsson's famous prediction says the 'internet of things' will support 50bn connections by 2020.
It is not clear how far Neul will balance technology licensing with production of chips or devices, but it is targeting a wide range of M2M applications such as media and content delivery; asset tracking; traffic management; continuous monitoring and dynamic upgrades of firmware; remote health monitoring; point of sale; environmental monitoring and smart grid; home and industrial building automation and security.