Data is increasingly important for modern society, for management of utilities, oil and gas services, government, military functions, and many other segments of life, and access to data must be reliable and often broadband. Communications now is often between machines as well as humans. To provide such access, the WavePoint wireless-communications modules from Free Wave Technologies are designed to provide machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless communications while operating within a customer’s choice of unlicensed frequency bands at 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.0 GHz. These compact radio modules employ orthogonal-frequency-division-multiplex (OFDM) technology to achieve data rates to 200 Mbytes/sec using secure communications based on standard Ethernet and Internet protocols.
Wave Point base modules provide a choice of frequency range based on a customer’s needs, with excellent propagation characteristics at the lowest frequencies (900 MHz), worldwide availability in the middle frequency range (2.4 GHz), and generous capacity at the highest frequencies (5 GHz).
Wave Point building blocks include the Wave Point 10e unit, which supports multiple frequency bands and can be configured for as many as four internal Wave Point radio modules, and the single-radio, single-frequency Wave Point 20e unit, for installation at remote end points. The Wave Point 10e can also be used as a relay point in a M2M network or as a Wi-Fi hotspot for a variety of different wireless-communications applications. The Wave Point 10e integrates a pair of RS-232 ports, one RS-485 port, a micro-Universal-Serial-Bus (micro-USB) port, and four RJ-45 Ethernet ports for flexible communications interfaces. The Wave Point 20e, although it contains no micro-USB or serial ports, is equipped with an Ethernet port with power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capability.
These radios allow the establishment of seal-healing M2M networks with interconnectivity to link to existing communications systems. They are highly secure, based on security protocols using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Machines and devices can be wireless connectivity enabled by connecting a standalone M2M communication terminal, by integrating a wireless M2M module, or through integrating wireless chipsets at the design stage. Fully approved and certified standalone M2M communication terminals are designed to fit projects where the available integration time is short, when upgrading existing applications with wireless connectivity or when the production volume is low. Plug and play integration using only cable connectors ensure rapid integration at low cost. For higher volume and space-sensitive applications, integration of M2M modules becomes more attractive despite the longer integration time and needs for end-product certification, because the solution cost per unit is reduced. Although wireless chipset solutions and reference designs are available from several technology providers, the extensive integration and certification efforts involved require very high device production volumes to become cost effective.
While M2M module sales in Europe have largely been driven by major utility AMM projects, the vehicle telematics market is likely to become the primary application for modules as European consumers continue to adopt aftermarket vehicle tracking and pay-as-you-drive systems in order to reduce insurance premiums. The real potential, however, can be unbleached towards the end of the decade when the eCall initiative to make automatic emergency call services standard for all new passenger cars is expected to be implemented. In North America, consumer M2M services have gained mainstream acceptance with the success of GM’s OnStar safety and security services. Other manufacturers are likely to introduce similar concepts in order to remain competitive. With growing adoption of aftermarket and OEM telematics systems on many markets outside North America and Europe as well, two out of three vehicles sold worldwide in 2011 can be equipped with a telematics system relying on M2M modules.