Wirepas Receives €10m to Develop First Non-Cellular 5G Technology

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Wirepas expects to bring to market solutions for non-cellular 5G based on new DECT-2020 NR standard.

Finland-based Wirepas has received €10 million in funding to develop and bring to market the first technology solutions for non-cellular 5G based on the new DECT-2020 NR wireless connectivity standard announced by ETSI in October 2020.

Established in 2010 and focused on internet of things (IoT) connectivity, Wirepas announced in May 2020 it had developed the world’s first purpose-built non-cellular 5G technology, challenging the cellular monopoly with an infrastructure-less and autonomous technology operating on a free global 1.9GHz spectrum. The new standard lets any enterprise set up and manage its own network autonomously with no operators anywhere in the world.

Wirepas said it was the main contributor to the development of the DECT-2020 New Radio (NR) standard. The standard fulfills both massive machine-type communications (mMTC) and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) requirements of 5G. Reliably connecting thousands and even millions of devices is one of the cornerstones for demanding industrial 5G systems. DECT-2020 NR supports local deployments without separate network infrastructure, network planning or spectrum licensing agreements making it affordable and easy to access by anyone and anywhere.

This new 5G standard means that for the first time, any business, regardless of size, will be able to digitize their business with reliable and affordable 5G connectivity. It will allow industries to run their own independent IoT systems and develop new services around their own expertise and business domain. It also enables them to store and consume the data generated in the way they see best fitting for them (on premises, in public cloud or anything in between), democratizing the data ownership.

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The CEO of Wirepas, Teppo Hemiä, said they had seen a lot of interest to bring its product to market, which prompted the investment from existing investors Karma and Tesi. He commented, “Thanks to the great market interest and lead customers’ fast time to market targets, we have decided to accelerate the first non-cellular 5G product development. We knew our solution was special and the need has become even more apparent and urgent over the past several months. This new injection of funds will help us continue to do what’s in our customers best interest, and that’s getting it done efficiently and as soon as possible. We target to have the commercial launch in 2022.”

The funds will be used to strengthen Wirepas’ longer-term research and to further develop its massive IoT technology. Wirepas will also be hiring with a focus on development, testing and delivery, all aspects needed to successfully bring the solution to market.

study published by Tampere University in Finland earlier this year indicates DECT-2020 NR outperforms existing cellular LPWAN solutions LTE-M and NB-IoT. Designed for massive and dense deployments, the new standard has ten times lower latency, and requires significantly less power than the cellular alternatives. It adds that the specifications of the standard also promise higher bandwidth and lower cost along with the inherently high reliability of the mesh topology, making DECT-2020 NR an attractive option for industries.

The Tampere University study looked at DECT-2020 NR in a mesh configuration. Here, the standard vastly outperformed existing LPWAN solutions by reaching much higher node densities for the same packet e2e delay and lost packets performance bounds. The high node densities for the same e2e delay are enabled by a novel mesh that applies dynamic channel selection requiring no precise frequency planning.

Jussi Numminen, head of RF at Wirepas and vice chair of the ETSI Technical Committee for DECT, said, “The study shows that DECT-2020 NR is an attractive connectivity option for anyone who needs to reliably connect a large amount of low latency devices in a local, dense area. It complements cellular IoT solutions that cannot cost-efficiently address all aspects of IoT and digitalization. There is a high demand for these type of affordable networks in large-scale, high-density applications in logistics and building automation as well as low-latency applications in industry automation.”

With its dedicated global frequency band at around 1900 MHz, DECT-2020 NR offers a low-interference environment and excellent interference management possibilities. Numminen adds, “What is really fascinating in this spectrum is that it is a single technology band, opening additional opportunities to design a good, performing radio.” In this standard the physical layer uses advanced radio technologies to boost link performance and reliability, such as OFDM radio, state-of-the-art modulation and coding schemes and HARQ. It is designed from day one to be future proof to support several operating channel bandwidths from 1.728 MHz up to 220 MHz for increased bitrate and latency demands.

The higher layers define device-centric autonomous operation for both mesh and star use. Devices can associate dynamically to each other, they can dynamically change their role to a routing device, and they can create both very dense and large neighborhood area networks – up to 5 kilometers – by themselves. The standard defines advanced capabilities for interference management between different networks and users, and it supports 17 operating bands up to 6 GHz.

Numminen continues, “The new standard is a great response to the needs industries have in digitalization. Thanks to a combination of the right people, experience, right timing and some good luck, we made this standard happen and created the big opportunity for us and our ecosystem. The DECT-2020 NR technology offers completely new opportunities for local and private networks as industrial companies, solution providers and other players can independently develop their own solutions and services.”

This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

Nitin Dahad is a correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also Editor-in-Chief of embedded.com. With 35 years in the electronics industry, he’s had many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and from entrepreneur to startup mentor and government advisor. He was part of the startup team that launched 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the US in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced much of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He’s also worked with many of the big names—including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor and Marconi Instruments.


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