Evaluation of next-generation low-power communication technologies to replace GSM in IoT-applications

Durand, Thomas Gerhardus (2018-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In today's world smart metering and control has become a critical component of our modern lifestyle. Smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices are used in a variety of applications in all sectors. Due to the rapid expansion of IoT applications, various IoT-focused communication networks are being developed and deployed. Although many technologies are available and being pursued, they do not all perform equally for all key metrics of the various applications. Choosing the right technology for the right application is di cult with the plethora of technologies and their claims. This thesis provides an impartial and fair overview of the performance of alternative communication technologies available to the current cellular standard. Specifically, Sigfox, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT are compared to determine the best application for each technology. Through investigating current literature, a suitable set of test metrics are identified, motivated, and used to compare the different communication technologies. The comparative metrics consists of two categories. Firstly, performance is compared through practically testing the power-consumption, maximum coupling loss (MCL), throughput and simulating the scalability. Secondly, different application metrics that affect performance, specifically the antenna, polarization, near-field interference, transmission power, path loss and coverage are evaluated. To compare the technologies, four identical test devices were built and the firmware for each developed, each with their own communication module and test points in order to test power consumption. A LoRaWAN TTN base station was built to provide coverage in the testing area. To measure the power consumption of the communications modules accurately, a current measurement solution is designed, developed, built and tested. A complete back-end system is developed to store data transmitted by devices, used in the different testing procedures. The research objective to develop, test and compare the hardware and firmware of the different communication technologies is achieved. The results indicate that there is no one solution to all IoT applications, however certain technologies are better suited, based on their performance metrics. The test verified the ultra-low power consumption of LoRaWAN and Sigfox, while it indicated that NB-IoT's network process currently limits the power consumption savings of NB-IoT. NB-IoT and Sigfox performed the best in MCL tests, while GPRS performed the worst. Due to LoRaWAN and Sigfox's radio band duty cycle limitations, throughput is relatively limited compared to NB-IoT and GPRS.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die wêreld van vandag, het slim meting en beheer 'n kritiese aspek van ons moderne leefstyl geword. Slim Internet van Dinge (IoD) toestelle word gebruik in 'n verskeidenheid toepassings in alle sektore van ons lewens. As gevolg van die vinnige ontwikkeling van slim toestel toepassings het verskeie IoD kommunikasie netwerke ontwikkel en word tans wêreldwyd ontplooi. Alhoewel verskeie kommunikasie tegnologieë beskikbaar is en nagevors word, het die verskeie tegnologieë meer toepaslike werksverrigtinge eienskappe wat beter vaar in verskillende toepassings. Die keuse van die regte tegnologie vir die regte toepassing is moeilik as gevolg van die oorvloed tipes tegnologieë en hul beweerde eienskappe. Hierdie tesis bied 'n onpartydige en regverdige oorsig van die werkverrigting van alternatiewe kommunikasie netwerke wat saamding om die huidige GSM selulêre netwerk in IoD toepassings te vervang. Die tesis fokus spesifiek op Sigfox, LoRaWAN en NB-IoT, en beoog om die beste toepassing vir elke tipe tegnologie te vind. Deur navorsing van die huidige literatuur word 'n stel toetsmetings geïdentifiseer en gemotiveer wat gebruik word om die verskillende IoD netwerke te vergelyk. Die vergelykende toets bestaan uit twee kategorieë. Eerstens, word die werksverrigting van netwerke getoets deur prakties kragverbruik, maksimum skakel verlies en deurset te meet. Die skalering van die verskillende netwerke word deur simulasie bepaal. Tweedens, word toepassings metings getoets wat werksvirigting kan beïnvloed. Spesifiek word die invloed van antenna keuse, polarisasie, naby-veld versteurings, transmissie drywing, padverlies en dekking geëvalueer. Om die tegnologie te vergelyk, is vier identiese toets apparate gebou en die fermware vir elk ontwikkel, elk met hul eie kommunikasiemodule en toetspunte om die kragverbruik te meet. 'n LoRaWAN TTN-basisstasie is gebou om dekking in die toetsarea te bied. Om die kragverbruik van die kommunikasiemodules akkuraat te meet, word 'n meetoplossing ontwerp, ontwikkel, gebou en getoets. 'n Volledige agtergrondprogram stelsel is ontwikkel om data wat deur toestelle oorgedra word, te stoor, wat gebruik word in die verskillende toetsprosedures. Die navorsingsdoelwit om die hardeware en fermware van die verskillende kommunikasietegnologie ë te ontwikkel, te toets en te vergelyk, word behaal. Die resultate dui daarop dat daar geen oplossing vir alle IoD toepassings is nie, maar sekere tegnologieë is beter geskik, gebaseer op hul werkverrigting statistieke. Die toetse het die ultra lae kragverbruik van LoRaWAN en Sigfox geverifieer, terwyl dit aangedui het dat NB-IoT se netwerkproses tans die lae kragverbruik van NB-IoT beperk. NB-IoT en Sigfox het die beste presteer in maksimum skakel verlies toetse, terwyl GPRS die swakste presteer het. As gevolg van LoRaWAN en Sigfox se radio-bandsiklusbeperkings, is deurvoer relatief beperk in vergelyking met NB-IoT en GPRS.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104991
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