STARTUP: Narrowband goes through the roof

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In the heart of Silicon Saxony, former Intel employees are developing highly modern and extremely energy-efficient mobile communication chips for the network of networks. They make it possible for even the smallest sensors in the most remote locations share their “observations”.

Intel just spent four years building mobile communication chips at its development center in Dresden. That came to an end last year. The employees there have certainly seen their fair share of employers. After NXP, the center went to Blue Wonder Communications, was purchased by Infineon and was finally taken over by Intel. After the American chip giant said good-bye to Saxony, some of its employees founded a startup named “Commsolid” to develop special mobile communication chips for the Internet of Things.

After all, networking everything with everything calls for mobile-communication technology that allows an enormous number of devices to communicate with one another with as little energy and the smallest data-transmission rates as possible. Classic solutions such as mobile telephony have failed with smart meters in the basement. In other words, what is needed is a different radio standard. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) appears to be the answer.

Narrowband IoT transmits through walls

The technology is compatible with 2G, so it operates in 900-MHz band. That means it can be used in the existing infrastructure without new radio towers. It can’t handle high data rates, but it can transmit signals a kilometer away—in some cases even through walls—and it requires very little energy to do so.

Several of the industry’s major providers such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei already support the new technology. As part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), Deutsche Telekom is also playing a leading role in standardization, shortly before the technology is implemented on a widespread basis.

Big market—Big opportunities

The market couldn’t be more impressive. The market-research company Machina Research estimates that, in 2024, nearly 14 percent of all communication connections between machines (M2M) will use this kind of technology. Naturally, that is also stirring desires among chip manufacturers. Intel has also announced special mobile communication chips for narrowband IoT.

Former Intel employees at Commsolid, on the other hand, have completed the first round of financing with High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Sachsen mbH (MBG). Now the team of 30 experts with more than ten years of experience developing system-on-chip mobile communication solutions will use the new capital to develop highly optimized, easy-to-integrate chip concepts for narrowband IoT. Embedded in customer-specific integrated circuits (ICs), they will make a variety of potential applications possible for IoT devices.


logo electronica eelectronica 2016 goes start-up

As part if the electronica Start-up Platform, new companies can now present their products and ideas to international industry representatives and more than 2,700 exhibitors at electronica 2016. The most exciting project will then be honored with the electronica Start-up Award.

NB-IoT-pixabay-Gerd-Altmann