Multi-RAT and R17: The Future of Optimized Connectivity?

Larry Socher - VP Solutions & Strategy - Eseye

Larry Socher

SVP Strategy & Alliances


Recently I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Conversational Geek Podcast and chatting to Nick Cavalancia, the four-time Microsoft MVP, CEO, and host of the hit tech show. We covered a range of topics, from the state of IoT today and the emergence of new technology such as Release 17 and Multi-RAT.

The nature of IoT is changing. With recent technological advancements in SatIoT such as Release 17 and the recent breakdown of the status quo of cellular networks which MNOs have previously enjoyed, there’s never been a better time to be involved within IoT. This latest blog uncovers how the landscape of IoT is changing at a rapid pace and how multiple radio access type technologies are revolutionising the way devices connect and interact to create a brighter, more interconnected future.

A snapshot of the connectivity market

A lot of enterprise IoT is focused on cellular because of the reliability and the resilience it offers. But the reality is that when it really comes down to it, enterprises are agnostic to the network technologies and operators that provide their IoT connectivity. As long as they can get secure, reliable, high-performing and cost-effective connectivity all the way from device to cloud, they don’t care what network technology operator delivers it. They just have their SLAs and performance metrics they’re trying to hit.

What’s interesting is that different technologies optimize for different use cases. So, LoRaWAN is getting a pretty big uplift, particularly as Amazon uses it in Sidewalk. Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps the smart devices in your home function better both inside and out. It’s very good for battery operated and water sensors that really communicate. They go in a single direction. It has a great set of technologies and protocols for that. Whereas Wi-Fi is really good for higher bandwidth and more frequent communications like video security cameras.

Our founders invented the ZigBee protocols for home networking. It’s now evolved to something called Thread, and it’s very good at smart lighting, motion sensors, and other devices in the digital hub. What we’re seeing is with the adoption of the digital home and things finally taking off between the Ring cameras, the smart lighting, water sensors, we’re seeing modem prices driven down particularly by the consumer market.

It’s getting much more economically feasible to have multiple radios in a single device, particularly if you can get to sub-$1 for a Wi-Fi Bluetooth chip. And so, we refer to that as having multiple radio access types or multi-RAT. This is interesting because it enables the enterprise to really mix, match, combine and optimize network technologies as well as components and even mix different operators. As a result, it actually increases resiliency, minimizes cost, and improves overall performance because you can use a low-cost network. You can use the right technology for the right application which enhances reliability and can improve power management too.

What’s interesting is every application is unique, so you can tailor that mix to the unique requirements of the device and application. As a result, enterprises then really want the freedom and control to switch between different network technologies and operators that match their requirements. This might include:

  1. Latency
  2. Time between transmissions
  3. Directionality to the device
  4. Power management
  5. Geographic deployments
  6. Degree of mobility

Our intelligent on-device software, AnyNet SMARTconnect™ puts the power into the device. For example if the network changes and the cost changes for roaming, or if there’s reliability or performance issues, or security challenges, the device can automatically switch to another network with preferable rates and performance levels. SMARTconnect can also be used to introduce new technologies to the device, for example if the enterprise wants to leverage a different radio access type, they can introduce that over the air to the device. Multi-RAT opens an incredibly powerful set of parameters that allow a business case to go from negative to positive and make something much more viable. It really starts to help facilitate the breaking of that stranglehold that the operators have traditionally had over cellular networks.

Connectivity goes into outer space

There’s also an emerging set of the 3GPP that standardizes cellular communications. 3GPP Release 17 is the next official release for the 5G Standard. It’s the successor to Release 16 and is expected to be one of the most versatile releases in the history of 3GPP with significant enhancements in the Next-Generation Radio Access Network (NG-RAN) and 5G Core Network (5GC). It’ll also enhance IoT and IIoT, automation, and variety of use cases.

Non-terrestrial networks have become part of the 3GPP standard in the GSMA’s Release 17. What that means is that satellites get supported with a cellular modem, and an antenna. As a result, I can connect to satellite, either a geostationary satellite or eventually constellation low earth orbits (LEOs) with those two radios and with R17 support. Even when I lose terrestrial cellular, coverage, I can now go up to a satellite network and remain connected.

So, with those two radios and with R17 support, even when I lose terrestrial cellular, so let’s say I’m back on the back highways, or I’m in the woods with poor coverage, I can now connect to a satellite network. So, with two radios I’m covered in the house, in the neighbourhood, and even up in the remote areas that don’t have terrestrial cellular coverage. It shows the kind of power that mixing and matching these technologies can do just to make it viable to have a truly resilient thing. And as soon as I add multiple technologies, resiliency goes up, because I can switch between the two.

Aside from opening new use cases, Release 17 also enhances existing 5G capabilities. For example, there are improvements to latency reduction which is pivotal in enabling time-critical use cases, such as remote-control applications. Additionally, R17 provides critical performance indicators to show the reliability and integrity of the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning procedure. Alongside this, R17 improves spectral efficiency and system capacity, supporting URLLC in unlicensed spectrum environments and strengthening the framework to support time sensitive communication (TSC).

With these new developments in R17 and the loosening of the stranglehold MNOs have historically had over the cellular network market, the way connectivity technology can be designed, implemented and more importantly managed has never been stronger. Previous technological limitations have been smashed aside in this new era of digital revolution and the IoT industry has been disrupted forever.

Uncover the Power of Intelligent Connectivity

To learn more about how Eseye utilises Mult-RAT connectivity read our AnyNet SMARTconnect™ solution paper.

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Larry Socher - VP Solutions & Strategy - Eseye

Larry Socher

SVP Strategy & Alliances


Larry spent the last 26 years at Accenture where he was most recently responsible for all Cloud & Infrastructure solutions and partnerships globally. During his tenure, Larry ran the Enterprise Network Practice, was CTO of the Service Provider Network Practice which he then proceeded to run operationally.  Larry leveraged a unique blend of deep cloud, network/5G, device, IoT/Edge and operations/AIOps skills and experience to help large enterprise, government agency and communications service provider clients transform their businesses, navigating an increasingly complex ecosystem to help them take advantage of the convergence and disruption in the market. Larry graduated from Dartmouth College with BA Major in Economics and English. Larry also holds three patents.

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