Exceptional changes are underway in the home networking market and a wide range of home systems. Everything from thermostats, light switches, door locks and smoke detectors will become networked. Born from a collective desire to better control our environment and cut our energy consumption, this shift is widely predicted to bring significant market growth opportunities. In the UK, over £2.4 billion is expected to be spent on home energy management devices. However, such devices will have to work with existing home networks and interoperability between devices from different manufacturers is essential for commercial success.
According to IMS Research, over 600-million households worldwide have home networks installed with computers, media players, smart TV’s, printers, network-attached storage (NAS), internet gateways and a growing number of accessories such as mice, headsets and keyboards. Like the home computing networks they join, which are standardized on WiFi, Ethernet and USB, these new home-automation, energy management, care and security (HAECS) networks must standardize to adopt an interoperable technology that gives whole home coverage and long battery life. Furthermore, this standard must be reliable, secure, scalable and simple to set up.Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) is the standard to fulfill all these needs.
DECT – An Evolving Technology with a Strong History
Building upon a communication standard is imperative for wide-scale adoption. It ensures interoperability and increases consumer confidence, leading to a greater number of nodes per network, and creating value for both the end-user and service aggregator.
Launched in 1987, DECT is an open ETSI standard for flexible digital radio access in cordless communication in residential, business and public environments. It employs several advanced techniques that enable highly efficient use of the radio spectrum. As a result, it delivers high voice quality, raw data rates up to 1 Mbps, secure communication and a very low risk of interference.
Over time DECT has evolved, with the Cordless Advanced Technology – internet and quality (CAT-iq) enhancement of the DECT standard offering wideband voice quality and enabling the integration of cordless telephony and internet services. It also allows DECT phones to be used for VoIP and other internet-based applications, such as audio streaming, as well as guaranteeing interoperability between vendors of gateway and handset devices. Supported by leading telecom operators, DECT technology and its CAT-iq incarnation have already been integrated into many home gateways and integrated access devices (IADs), which eliminate the need for separate modem, router and telephone base stations and enable triple play service offerings.
IMS Research predicts DECT / CAT-iq IADs (including cable, xDSL and fiber) will reach 35% worldwide penetration, leading to over 25M devices by 2015. One reason that DECT has been overlooked for HAECS applications until now is the perception that its power consumption is too high for “fix-and-forget” nodes. However, the latest DECT products include an ultra-low energy mode, a new development ratified by the ETSI and known as ULE. This enables sensor-actuator nodes to operate autonomously for 5-10 years on a standard AAA battery pack. Fully compatible with both previous DECT and CAT-iq generations, ULE offers the same voice quality, reliability, secure communication and plug-and-play installation as the extensive installed base of DECT systems.
With the CAT-iq and ULE developments, DECT is a perfect match with HAECS applications. Factor in its strong consumer acceptance, wide installed base and connectivity to the Internet and it is clear why DECT ULE ticks more of the boxes than any of the current networking options.
Quad-play Integrated Access Devices provide consumers with Internet access, Digital TV, Digital Voice and ULE in one box
Any home network technology must be capable of reliably transmitting over a distance of the size of a typical house. When discussing the range of an RF technology, it’s common to think in terms of the link budget (the path loss that can be bridged between transmitter and receiver). To cover most homes, a minimum link budget of around 115 dB is required. The link budgets for the various HAECS options depend on use case choices such as data rate, transmission frequency, transmitter power, etc. Figure 1 shows the use case choices and best case link budgets for various technologies.
With its link budget of 123 dB, DECT clearly meets the range requirements for a home network and gives consumers the freedom to move around and install nodes anywhere in their homes even in non-ideal places like cellar or wall-sockets.