Twenty-Year-Old 2G Technology Steps in to Help Large Scale IoT Deployments in Europe

July 6, 2018

Upon its inception in 1991, 2G broke through the technological barrier and introduced the world to innovative wireless digital communication. Moving up from 1G technology, which propelled analog voice transmissions over mostly-unsecured lines, 2G was able to integrate features like call and text encryption, SMS and MMS messaging, and picture transmission starting at nearly 25x the speed of 1G.

The sun rising between two tall buildings. Likewise, even though 2G is over 20 years old, it is bringing a new day for large scale deployments.

Every 10 years or so the technology grows exponentially. 3G, 4G, and soon-to-be 5G technologies have all increased battery life, allowed for increased data transmission, and allowed for ease in sharing files and videos. Despite these advancements, 2G tech has persisted in many settings, and is currently set to help pave the way for further innovation.

The Crucial Role of 2G Technology and Narrowband IoT

2G is still used around the world today – despite its high-power consumption by today’s standards – especially with European IoT adopters and companies that can look to 2G technology for its low price point, ubiquitous coverage and same “fast enough” fundamental characteristic as its apparent  Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) solutions.

NB-IoT is a cellular Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) standard that connects devices across the world through a narrow-band implementation (uses precious radio spectrum sparingly) inside the LTE mobile network umbrella. Besides smart use of spectrum resources and power, NB-IoT is able to penetrate hard-to-reach locations like utility meter closets, underground garages, and pump rooms.

It is expected to create a new wireless framework for everything that does not require operational mobility from smart metering, to smart cities, home alarms, building temperature control, asset and premise management, and parts of supply chain management. By 2020, nearly 24 billion daily-use devices are expected to be IoT-enabled.

Assuredly, NB-IoT will revolutionize the market. However, NB-IoT still has a way to go in terms of hardware and data plan price points and geo coverage, adding to the challenges of the uptake worldwide. While the world waits to catch up with the latest NB-IoT solutions, Europe is well positioned to remove risks, accelerating IoT solutions continentally through a re-energizing of the twenty-year-old 2G technology.

Why 2G? And How? Europe Leads with IoT Mobility

In the U.S., where cellular radio spectrum strangulation reigns, long-promised 2G sunset is well underway. For most of the rest of the world, however, 2G technology is perfectly practical. For example, with smart buildings there’s no need to transfer large files, share videos or link to a data-consuming Instagram if you’re trying to change the illumination in a parking garage or read temperature and humidity levels in a remote pump room.

With an NB-IoT LTE infrastructure as the end-goal, rolling out a brand-new standard on a network comprised of millions of cell towers across the continent is not an easy task. What is in place in EMEA is a solid and dependable 2G grid of mobile networks and a multitude of 2G IoT modules designed to work smarter and harder than ever before.

Industry-leading companies like Telit have anticipated the extended usefulness of 2G and rolled out a smaller, smarter generation of 2G products that improve on the power-consumption setbacks of the previous generation. This new 2G technology provides a great alternative – a good path forward – to give application designers something they can use right away in a stop-gap measure until NB-IoT deployments in Europe are covering their geographic targets.

Compact and simple, the members of the GL865 family of sustaining 2G modules offer integrators in EMEA or those exporting devices there, an opportunity to pick from full-featured models including support to Telit simWISE, the company’s solution for managed SIM-less cellular IoT connectivity which is helping add to 2G’s newfound relevance in IoT and helping establish a new norm for what IoT will become in 4G and beyond. Alternatively, customers can select a modem-only model with functionality and attributes targeting cost-constrained applications and business cases.

Understanding Europe’s Leading 2G Solution with Telit

The beauty of 2G is that it’s been re-energized by webs and tides of market and technology conditions to find a new life across all of Europe. Looking to update your existing 2G technology framework? Connect to IoT solutions now with Telit. The GL865 modules are designed to help customers continue to leverage the power and coverage of 2G in Europe until NB-IoT and LTE-M are fully commercial, and price-point stabilized. Please contact us for expert device design support across all your applications.