Network Operators Need to Prepare for Booming M2M Traffic

Next Generation Communications Blog

Network Operators Need to Prepare for Booming M2M Traffic

By Erin Harrison

The so-called “Internet of Things” is expected to connect 15 billion devices by 2015, demanding a new approach to communications business models, operations and technologies.  As a result, driven in no small measure by the dramatic projected increase in machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, wireless network operators are in a position where they need to prepare for an explosion of signaling traffic, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine item, "Getting Ready for M2M Traffic Growth."

Internet of Things applications will create new demands and challenges, according to Alcatel-Lucent. Some will require high bandwidth, real-time communications or reliability in remote locations. Others will encourage human interaction by combining personal value with enhanced privacy and safety. Together, these applications will generate traffic and transactions that compete for bandwidth and priority.

In fact, service providers are already building and supporting M2M applications for vertical industries. Several key factors are driving development:

  • Widespread use of wireless networks;
  • Reduced communications costs;
  • IP networks and cloud-based applications that ease solution development; and
  • Industry regulations that demand automated remote monitoring.

Signaling traffic will be the main bottleneck as M2M transactions increase, but application-level management can enhance traffic control and efficiency. Also, a new network element, the M2M server, could enforce policies for network usage, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

An effective approach is to combine three levels of traffic management:

  1. Application-level management allows network operators to take diverse application requirements into consideration.
  2. RAN signaling overload control focuses on communication between a device and the access network.
  3. Core network overload control provides another level of overload control. If the first access network node is not a bottleneck but the core network is, then the access network can be instructed to block further accesses for M2M service requests.

As Alcatel-Lucent explained, in an ideal application of level management solutions, network operators are able to prioritize traffic from different M2M applications.

“Access and network level of traffic management can be addressed with mechanisms in the RAN and the core network respectively, while application-level management provides the optimal point for preventing network congestion,” the blog post said. “In an ideal application-level management solution, a new network element or gateway that lies on the boundary between the applications and the network would help network operators prioritize traffic from different M2M applications and enforce network usage policies ensuring customer satisfaction.”

For network operators, success can be achieved through sharing information, ideas and resources across ecosystems, markets and value chains. By securely exposing valued assets to trusted partners, service providers can take steps toward realizing the potential of a connected world.

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