Weightless M2M - Argon Design explain why it is a good solution. – Electronic design services with Argon Design Ltd.

Why Weightless is a good M2M Solution


You may have noticed the announcement of Iceni in the press this week, the first silicon to support the open standard - Weightless over the TV White Space Spectrum.

Argon Design is a core member of this standards body and proactive in the Weightless SIG.

Argon Design is well versed delivering Internet of Things solutions to its clients, where we select the right technology for a client's product and solution. Recent projects have included the use of GSM, Bluetooth, SMS, Ethernet and now clients are looking to use Weightless.

We thought it would be useful to provide a brief overview as to the benefits of Weightless and why it will be so transformative in the M2M market estimated to have 50 Billion devices.

Where does the figure 50 Billion Devices come from?

Mckinsey and other reputable research organisations state there could be 50 billion M2M devices by 2020. Where does this figure come from?

Effectively, if one looks at the diverse types of applications that will serve individuals, the count is about an average of 10 devices per person - in our home, in our car, on our person, medical related, smart city related, smart grid related and so on. There are over 7 billion people on the planet already and by 2020 this is forecasted to increase to 8 billion. Thus the maths is obvious and the figure of 50 billion devices obtained. Clearly the types of M2M devices used by individuals in developed economies could differ from those in emerging economies, where differing needs arise.

Where does the figure of USD$Trillions come from?

A recent report from M.I.T. estimates a new market for Industrial Internet of about USD$70 Trillion across developed and emerging economies. See below.

How accurate this figure is, remains to be seen. What is clear and widely documented is that the market potential is enormous. What is of concern is that current incumbent wireless technologies are stifling the growth of this market and thus we need properly designed M2M technology and solutions.

This is where we believe Weightless has its part to play. Let me explain further.

A specification for a proper M2M Solution

If we look at the requirements for an M2M wireless solution, at the top level we arrive at the following conclusions:-

  • Machines do not talk in the same way as humans. Machines send data mostly at predictable times. They wake up, send data, go to sleep. Their communication can be scheduled. Humans are spontaneous, we want instant connectivity for as long as we want and as often as we want
  • Cells must support a large quantity of M2M terminals - from 100,000 - 1,000,000
  • Terminals should not need external power but rather last for 10 years on a single AA battery or work via energy harvesting.
  • Mobility across borders and territories with national (full) coverage
  • Terminal connectivity priced < USD$2 (inc chip cost and royalties)
  • Low terminal connectivity contract costs < USD$10 per year or, you pay only when you transmit data
  • Low data transmission rates - in the order of Kbit/minute not Mbit/second
  • Excellent coverage inside buildings
  • Privacy and data protection of terminal data and Big Data services
  • Rights of terminal ownership - rather than a Cellular operator SIM card that they own and thus the data
  • Guaranteed delivery of data
  • Broadcast messages to terminals
  • Terminals be long distances away from cells - up to 10km and beyond.
  • The opportunity to own a wireless network - for both privacy, security, cost and mobility reasons
  • Be an open, international, standard that provides a platform for as many diverse services as possible.

There are other requirements but this gives us insight as to why current solutions are stifling the M2M Market.

Current wireless solutions fail miserably

If we look at some of the major incumbent wireless solutions, it can be clearly seen that they fail to meet all of the above requirements.


  • GSM/CDMA - This fails on many levels. Designed for humans not machines. Terminal costs are USD$20 in volume. Contract costs per terminal are $10/month rather than per year. Power is needed to the terminals or batteries changed often due to the enormous inefficiences of the communications of terminal to cell. SIM cards are needed, and who does really own the data that is transmitted on their network? They do not support anywhere near 100k nodes per cell. Does not work reliably in buildings. You cannot own the network and so forth. It is well documented that in the UK GSM coverage is not 100%
  • Zigbee - very limited range.
  • Bluetooth - very limited range.
  • Wifi - very limited range, high power requirements etc.
  • Fixed networks - power needed to the devices and not portable.

None of these solutions meets the M2M specification and you can start to see why this enormous market has been stifled. Don't get me wrong, these wireless technologies all have their rightful place in the human and business experience.

However, clearly we need a new standard. One that is open, one that is royalty free and one that empowers businesses to solve diverse challenges across sectors and territories.

Weightless is the right technology to enable the M2M market

With the liberation of the Whitespace spectrum (US - 2012, UK April 2013, other territories following suit), which is license free, Weightless solutions can be built. Cheaply. It is royalty free if you participate in the SIG. Trials of this technology are going on across the world from Africa, Asia, UK, USA to name a few. Global brands (can't be named at the moment, apologies) are piloting this new technology.

At Argon Design, we are in conversations with clients from across the globe wanting to know more about this technology and discuss projects such as Mining, Water Treatment, Healthcare, Automotive, Building/Road condition monitoring. The list of conversations is building daily.

You can see an interview with Argon Design talking about Weightless and the opportunity to transform entire emerging economies.

Want to know more how this technology can help your business?

Argon design is well placed to select the right technology for your business needs.

We are right at the heart of the Weightless standard in both the SIG and creating technology. If you would like to know more, we would be delighted to discuss your business challenges and how we can lever this technology into your propositions.

Please contact Argon Design here

We would also recommend looking at the Weightless website for further information.