M2M Over Mobile Radio Technology

Utilities and other critical infrastructure (CI) industries around the globe are being challenged to improve service delivery while at the same time deal with security threats that aim to take down their operations.  Compounding these challenges are the pressures from investors and regulatory agencies to streamline operations and reduce costs all while dealing with the complexities of a retiring workforce.  To conquer these formidible challenges, critical infrastructure industries require greater visibility into their operations and are looking to leverage Machine to Machine (M2M) communications technology & communications to provide the means to increase the automation of their operations.


The characteristics of an M2M communication system are:

  • Low Mobility
  • Application Independent
  • IP-based
  • Small Data Transmissions
  • High Reliability
  • Network Priority
  • Security
  • Latency Tolerant

The characteristics of an M2M communication system are:2

• Low Mobility: M2M devices do not move, move infrequently, or move only within a certain region.

• Application Independent: M2M devices enable communications to key applications that don’t have any communication today and are completely transparent to the application.  The application is unaware that the communication service is provided by a wired or wireless connection.

• IP-based: As LMR communication networks migrate from analog to digital, these new digital networks support IP bearer services and have the ability to transport both IP and serial-based protocols over the IP-based network.

1 M2M device connections, revenue and ARPU: worldwide forecast 2011–2021, Analysis Mason, May 2012 2 Government of India, Telecommunications Engineering Centre, White Paper Machine to Machine Communication, 2011. 
  Fig 1: M2M Communications Architecture
• Small Data Transmissions: M2M devices frequently send or receive small amounts of data, leveraging the extra capacity enabled by migrating to a new time division multiple access (TDMA)-based digital LMR network.

• High Reliability:  High reliability means that whenever and wherever M2M communication is required or triggered, the connection and reliable transmission between the M2M device and the M2M server shall be available, regardless of the operating environment. High reliability is required in M2M applications that involve either the prospect of an emergency or highly sensitive data.  Utility LMR systems have long been designed for high reliability for their voice needs, and the benefit of this is extended directly to the M2M applications that leverage the same network.   Mission critical networks are designed for high reliability and redundancy where failure is not an option while business enterprise operations networks are not designed to meet the same redundancy and reliability specifications. 

• Network Priority:  Network priority means that there is a method for providing a hierarchical prioritization of users or applications within the solution when applications, voice or data, are competing for network access. The P25, TETRA and DMR standards and the systems provided by the manufacturers have provisions in their protocols to accommodate a prioritization scheme, whether it is simple or sophisticated.   This is important as utilities have long considered their voice communications to be mission critical because they rely on them for both safety and security, such that prioritization cannot be disrupted.  Many fixed data applications, which weren’t previously considered mission critical, are now being considered as such since the information about the grid’s performance has a direct impact on a utility’s operation and performance. 

• Security:  Security functions include the protection and confidentiality of M2M data, authentication of users prior to access to M2M devices, and encryption of the data transferred across M2M networks.  Knowing that utilities desire private LMR networks for their higher levels of security provides a strong platform that can be leveraged when using the same security for M2M applications.

• Latency Tolerant:  Latency is a time interval between the stimulation and response.  When leveraging a LMR network for M2M the target applications should be those that aren’t latency sensitive.  The general one-way latency of an LMR network is approximately 1 second. Those polled applications or reports by exception-based applications that don’t require immediate responses measured in milliseconds but rather in seconds are target applications for M2M over LMR.