Neul provides new M2M options

Jeremy Green/Ovum
15 Feb 2012

Neul’s prospective M2M communications standard “Weightless” represents both an opportunity for the nascent “Internet of Things” (IoT) sector and a potential threat to MNOs with established M2M businesses.

Weightless is a radio technology developed specifically for wide-area M2M that uses unlicensed spectrum in the “white space” frequencies that is allocated to broadcasting but unused in specific localities.

Neul’s plan is to turn Weightless into a standard and hand it over to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, following the path trodden by Bluetooth and Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA). Weightless cleverly uses existing radio technologies, trading off longer ranges and lower power for bandwidth.

It also uses frequency hopping and spread spectrum to deal with interference rather than to maximize channels and throughput. Its success will depend on its ability to recruit some large, significant backers. If it is able to do this, it could disturb the balance in the IoT and M2M spaces.

Weightless is a long shot, but worth watching

Neul is a small, venture capital-funded start-up based in Cambridge, England. It is not the only player looking to utilize white space frequencies, nor is it the only one to offer an alternative bearer for M2M applications. Nevertheless, its strategic vision is clear and its technology is clever enough that it deserves to be monitored carefully.

Neul hopes to see one or more Weightless-based networks per country, and hopes to attract a community of chipset manufacturers to which it will license the intellectual property without charging a royalty. It hopes to make its money from licensing to network equipment manufacturers. The company has a design for a lightweight core network optimized for the low data throughput and relatively high latency that many M2M applications tolerate. It hopes to sell this either as a managed service or to license the software.

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