In the general clamour surrounding cellular IoT connectivity, it’s easy to overlook some of those key components that may not receive the attention they deserve. One example is the 450 MHz spectrum, currently utilized for 2G and 3G networks around the world. However, as the cellular IoT ecosystem evolves, it is time to understand the potential of 450 MHz.
Around the world, legacy 2G and 3G networks at 450 MHz spectrum are being retired at an ever-increasing rate and migrating to 4G and 5G. Consequently, a significant amount of 450 MHz spectrum is being re-allocated for new technologies and use cases on LTE450 networks.
For the past few years, this has been the trend in Northern Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia, where commercial deployments have already been rolled out. A similar trend, with rapidly growing activity, has been observed in central Europe, Latin America and other parts of Asia.
The 450 MHz spectrum provides some key benefits, for cellular connectivity in general, as well as in specific IoT use cases:
- A defining characteristic of 450 MHz is its strong signal penetration, making it ideal for industry applications such as smart utility metering. In these cases, where devices are typically installed in basements below ground, the 450 MHz band provides particularly efficient coverage.
- The 450 MHz band also provides superior coverage, with a single base station able to cover a far greater area than higher frequency bands, translating into lower network costs while enabling faster deployment. While useful to all types of connected devices, this will prove particularly beneficial for remote agricultural applications, such as soil sensors, weather monitors and livestock trackers.
- With the ability to create extremely secure and robust networks that can support legacy applications with enhanced features, 450 MHz provides the key requirements for public safety applications, such as emergency response communications devices and surveillance systems.
For both broadband and IoT applications, the low frequency and superior transmission of LTE450 offers a low-CAPEX alternative to the retiring CDMA450 networks. For cellular IoT in particular, the benefits will be most evident in long-term battery-operated applications in which coverage, cost and power consumption are key.
Ultimately, it will be the early adopters who benefit most, and vendors with mature solutions will be best positioned to capitalize on this quiet transition to LTE450.