The EDGE of Connectivity
With more connected devices hitting the market all the time, more and more vendors are looking for new ways to improve the performance of their products. One area these companies are always exploring is the cellular module.
According to ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, nearly 28 million M2M modules shipped in 2009; a number that could increase to more than 114 million by 2015. However there is a specific type of M2M module which may not be getting the same attention as its counterparts, EDGE (enhanced data rates for GSM evolution networks).
ABI Research says EDGE, which is 2.5G technology, could be considered the logical upgrade from GSM/GPRS (global system for mobile communications/general packet radio service) to 3G, as it operates on the same frequency bands.
“Not so long ago, it appeared likely that M2M would be making liberal use of the EDGE cellular interface standard,” says Sam Lucero, practice director, ABI Research. “However, market data suggest that EDGE has not become the technology of choice for many M2M vendors.”
But what about consumers, how does the type of network impact them? While EDGE offers many of the same services on mobile devices as 3G, such as access to music and videos, high-speed Web and email access, and multimedia messaging, 3G provides these services at greater speeds. As a result, consumers who frequently like to take advantage of these types of services will probably be more inclined to go for 3G, according to some in the market.
Speed is obviously important to consumers when it comes to buying connected devices, and companies will take this into consideration when selecting the appropriate network for their devices. But consumer demand isn’t the only factor playing a role in their decision. Cost is a critical factor as well.
Some developers have chosen to shy away from the additional, yet minimal, costs associated with EDGE by sticking with the GSM/GPRS standard if they are not concerned with bandwidth size or future-proofing. Those who are taking future-proofing, a process for ensuring data will still be accessible in the future, into consideration are moving past EDGE to W-CDMA (wideband code division multiple access).
Another concern among developers is that GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks will eventually be shut down to make way for 3G/4G, decreasing the lifecycle of their applications already deployed on the networks. According to Lucero, data regarding module shipments in the M2M market since 2003 hasn’t shown a strong adoption rate of EDGE technology.