Carrier-grade Sub-GHz WAN for low-energy objects
IOCAST connects low-energy objects (sensors and controllers) to backend applications by way of a coverage cloud, a many-to-many, area-defined relationship between objects and base stations. Unlike ISM-band LPWAN technologies, IOCAST base stations use dedicated, licensed send/receive channel pairs and provide the deterministic MAC layer necessary to support large deployments of low-cost, low-energy objects. Unlike 4G broadband networks, IOCAST objects transmit narrowband datagrams, which propagate farther and more reliably using far fewer base stations.
IOCAST originates from first responder radio networks, and like those networks, it balances energy consumption, cost, range, and throughput to achieve meaningful, real-world objectives. Enterprises may create private clouds by deploying their own base stations, or they may connect their objects using an IOCAST service provider.
Compared to other IoT approaches, IOCAST reduces cost and energy consumption, improves performance, and delivers proven, mission-critical reliability in urban, rural, and industrial environments.
What’s wrong with unlicensed LPWANs?
For local-area networks, use of unlicensed ISM frequencies is manageable because network operators can simply restrict other ISM band usage on site. But for wide-area solutions, unlicensed interference poses an serious problem. A wide-area network has no control over what happens between base stations and connected objects. Process gain and adaptive receivers can mitigate the effects of interference, but uncoordinated use of common spectrum by different technologies will cause communications disruptions, with incident rates increasing as more disparate users come on line.
Benefits at a Glance
- Dedicated, protected RF channels
- Field-proven reliability and security
- Predictable long-range performance
- Carrier-grade MAC layer
How does IOCAST work?
An IOCAST cloud includes a M4201 system controller and one or more base stations. The IOCAST controller presents the Backend API to one or more backend applications, and also coordinates and controls base stations using IP connectivity.
Each connected object includes an endpoint transceiver, either a discrete module implementing the endpoint transceiver interface, or a tightly integrated firmware/hardware solution. IOCAST transceivers operate using a performance/energy quotient (peq) setting, a measure of how often the they activate receiver circuitry to listen for data. The peq enables optimization of communication performance, energy consumption, and battery life on a per-object basis. Each transceiver’s peq may be changed dynamically by the backend application or the object itself.
IOCAST operates on dedicaed channel pairs using private or commercial frequencies. Use of dedicated channels prevents interference from other systems and protects capital investment. For private clouds, enterprises may obtain their own private channels from the business pool for a small coordination fee, and for commercial clouds, carriers may purchase operating frequencies from the secondary market or at FCC auction.
Frequently asked questions
A good comparison of narrowband versus wideband systems is available here.