All about the complementary standard for 5G

Wirepas, the Finnish Internet of Things (IoT) network provider, has launched the implementation phase of the new standard developed to provide large and low latency IoT connections.

What is DECT-2020 NR?

DECT-2020 NR, for Enhanced Digital Wireless Communications New Radio, is a new radio standard developed in 2020 and supported by Finnish IoT network provider Wirepas to meet the needs of low latency and high density of communication devices. This standard is based on the DECT-TM standard, developed by the standardization organization ETSI in the 1990s.

Youssef Kamel, Senior Vice President of Intelligent Tracking at Wirepas, explains the genesis of the project: “One of the problems associated with the emergence of the Internet of Things is due to frequency bands: its regulation is national, and the bands used for LoRaWAN for example are so not identical depending on the geographical area, the 2.4G band has become Hertz – used for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – is crowded. However, there is a globally available band, free and unused: the DECT-TM band, originally reserved for phones and almost unused today.”

Wirepas has worked for nearly three years with teams from ETSI, laboratories and partners to modernize and adapt this scale to the use of the Internet of Things. The DECT-2020 NR standardization was formalized in October 2020 by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The standard began its implementation phase in May 2021.

The DECT-2020 NR uses the 1.9 GHz frequency band but its physical layer has been adapted to handle 17 frequency bands below 6 GHz, allowing for international use. The standard is also based on Wirepas’ mesh communications network, where connected objects working with DECT-2020 NR act as relays for each other by turning them into routers with a theoretical range of 5 km. Available speeds are 3 megabits per second.

What are the uses of DECT-2020 NR?

This standard meets two needs: massive machine-to-machine communications (mMTC) and ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC). It specifically targets logistics, smart building, smart metering, and Industry 4.0.

Like 5G, DECT-2020 NR was developed to meet the needs related to latency and high density of connected objects. But there is one major difference that sets them apart: Wirepas mesh is designed to do without infrastructure. Youssef Kamel highlights that “DECT-2020 NR provides the only standard that can so far be deployed without an operator.”

Another advantage of the DECT-2020 NR over 5G: its performance. Experiments are in progress. According to a first study published by the University of Tampere in Finland, “the new radio standard DECT-2020 outperforms existing cellular LPWAN solutions, i.e. LTE-M and NB-IoT, by delivering ten times weaker and requiring less power.”

But Wirepas intends to make the DECT-2020 NR more of a complement to its 5G network than a competitor. His next goal is to upgrade the standard to the International Telecommunication Union so that the latter will incorporate it into its standardization work on 5G, called IMT-2020. This will allow Wirepas to operate on LTE-M or NB-IoT cellular radios using the 1.9 GHz spectrum band operated by DECT-2020 NR.

The procedure for using 5G for the international Internet of Things project is “complicated for manufacturers because roaming is not yet widespread,” according to Youssef Kamel. They need:

  • Conclusion of a contract in France with the four operators to benefit from the best coverage of the desired sites;
  • Ensure you have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that guarantee services;
  • Repeat the procedure with other desired country operators
  • Publish the solution internationally.

With DECT-2020 NR, they need:

  • Either you adopt Wirepas technology with a single license to use the Associated Software
  • Either take the open APIs from Wirepas and implement their own implementation of DECT-2020 NR in their software.

According to Youssef Kamel, the running costs of DECT-2020 NR are “divided by ten” compared to those of 5G.

DECT-2020 and ETSI

DECT-2020 NR is an ETSI standard: Wirepas worked with the European Standardization Agency and DECT to generate the DECT-2020 NR standard so that new radios designed for the Internet of Things could use 1.9 GHz waves. The bracelet has been updated to be more efficient. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) announced the publication of the standard for this new wireless communication standard DECT-2020 NR on October 20, 2020.

DECT-TM in telephony

DECT-TM is the ETSI standard for short-range wireless communications up to 500 metres. It is implemented in more than a billion communication devices around the world, such as intercoms, baby monitors, and alarms.

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