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Skoltech has released a new OpenUNB standard for the Internet of Things for open access

First edition of the PNST draft “Information technologies. Internet of Things. Wireless data transmission protocol for high-capacity networks based on ultra-narrowband radio signal modulation ”(OpenUNB, Open Ultra-Narrowband) published on the official website of technical committee 194 “Cyber-physical systems

Skoltech has released a new OpenUNB standard for the Internet of Things for open access

Today, on the official website of technical committee 194 “Cyber-physical systems”, for the first time for public discussion and comments of experts, the  first edition of the  draft preliminary national standard (PNST) “Information technologies. Internet of Things. Wireless data transmission protocol for high-capacity networks based on ultra-narrowband radio signal modulation ”(OpenUNB, Open Ultra-Narrowband). In addition to  the standard itself,  interested specialists can familiarize themselves with the  explanatory note to it , as well as leave their comments and recommendations in a  special form .

The new standard establishes requirements for a data transfer protocol designed for one-way or two-way transmission of small “portions” of information (several bytes) between a group of base stations and a large number of devices (over 100 per base station), according to a schedule or by event. In this case, it is assumed that the terminal devices have power supply restrictions (power supply from a battery or accumulator throughout the entire service life of the device), are located in large areas (up to 50 km from the base station in line of sight) or in a complex radio environment (basements, collectors). In addition to the text of the protocol, its software implementation for open hardware platforms is already ready,

The draft standard was developed within the framework of Technical Committee 194 “Cyber-physical systems” by specialists from the NTI Competence Center “Technologies for Wireless Communication and the Internet of Things” on the basis of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) without the involvement of third-party contractors and outsourcing of specialists. The development of the protocol was financed by RVC JSC from the state grant for the creation and operation of the Central Committee of the NTI BSIV.

Proposing new standards, their refinement and integration into the industry are among the most important KPIs of all competence centers. And given that the main task of the NTI Central Committee BSIV is technological support for domestic companies in the development of new products in the field of the Internet of Things, their entry into promising NTI markets and gaining a significant share there, then the creation of open and free standards for all is the only possible way.

At the moment, there is a disunity in the market. Each company makes its own “local” decision, focusing exclusively on its own interests. In the future, it is lobbied through regulatory documents or resolutions, is included in roadmaps, which cuts off development opportunities for other firms. This approach is doomed. With its power, it will not be possible to create a mass market for IoT, even in a separate narrow sphere of housing and communal services. And the lack of competition will slow down technological development and lead to higher prices. Only open standards created by an organization independent of any particular company (such as the NTI BSIV Central Committee) and the professional communities that have formed around them, ready to harshly but constructively criticize the proposed protocols and refine them, can launch a mass market.

The use of the open protocol OpenUNB can induce many individual firms to create solutions based on it, compete with each other, and therefore effectively develop the digital economy. Large vendors of operator solutions with their NB-IoT and powerful 3GPP lobby are already operating in a similar way abroad. As a result, there is a global market for devices from various manufacturers with NB-IoT support. Exactly the same was done by the LoRa alliance, which even gave the operator part at the mercy of small manufacturers. Now it’s time to create the same open standard and community of developers and manufacturers in the UNB field. And its outpost should be the Russian Federation, where the most difficult conditions for the deployment of sensor networks and the highest requirements for their energy efficiency.

The choice of Ultra-Narrowband systems is due to the fact that for Narrowband the problem has already been solved using the NB-IoT and LoRa protocols. Both of them are open source and technically very decent (a number of the shortcomings noted in them are due to the nature of NB-networks, and not to developers’ mistakes). In fact, the only existing domestic open standard is NB-FI, but technically it is still quite crude. As for UNB, there is a good Sigfox protocol, but it is completely proprietary.

It is important to take into account that UNB is designed and technically meaningful only for use in a specific niche – sparsely populated areas with sensors and devices installed in hard-to-reach or closed places that do not have access to external energy sources (for example, gas and water meters, etc. ), since UNB allows for power optimization at high sensitivity and uses trusted cryptography. In a dense urban environment, it is more convenient to install a much faster solution with a reliable return channel and power it from an external source. In conditions of high density, it is much more efficient to use NB-IoT technologies, since the spectrum is licensed, and in conditions of lower density, it is LoRa, which is much cheaper.

So far, only the data link layer has been described in the protocol. Regarding the physical implementation, it is stated that OpenUNB can use any BPSK / DBPSK modulator. Anticipating critical remarks, it is necessary to point out that our specialists perfectly understand that the high sensitivity, which is so famous thanks to the ultra-narrow UNB bands, is possible only with a competent hardware implementation of the receiver. This is both a bottleneck and, at the same time, a strength of companies like Sigfox (backed by many patents). Therefore, taking into account this circumstance, the Central Committee of the NTI BSIV is now completing the development of a technical solution for the receiver. Together with the results of its modeling, it will also be made publicly available in the coming months, after which, together with its industrial partners, the NTI Central Committee BSIV will present a version of its hardware implementation.

For three months, starting from the 29th, the Central Committee of NTI BSIV and TC 194 will collect feedback from engineers and developers. A number of open seminars are planned to discuss the protocol with the participation of specialists from Huawei and the Institute for Information Transmission Problems. A.A. Kharkevich RAS, as well as other organizations, whose experience our Competence Center fully trusts.

Technical Committee 194 “Cyber-physical systems” and the NTI Competence Center “Technologies for Wireless Communication and Internet of Things” hope very much for the help of all specialists from the telecommunications industry and urge to actively participate in the discussion of the draft OpenUNB standard. We welcome any constructive criticism and pointing out errors and weaknesses in the current version of the protocol. Comments and suggestions should be sent by October 25, 2019 to the secretariat of TC 194 “Cyber-physical systems” (Russia, 121205, Moscow, Skolkovo Innovation Center, Nobel Street, 1; e-mail: info@tc194.ru) according to the  attached project feedback form.