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How a new wireless standard filled the gap

By Jussi Numminen

Jussi Numminen 2

Creating a new technology standard is no walk in the park. Far from it. When ETSI announced the new DECT-2020 NR wireless connectivity standard on the 20th of October 2020, it was the result of a good two years of intense, patient and detailed work with long and late meetings from a group of people in a variety of companies. However, someone had been sitting in the driver’s seat. Someone had set the wheels in motion. That someone was Jussi Numminen, Head of RF at Wirepas. Let’s go back to the start.

As Jussi recalls, “I have always been keen to find an answer to the question ‘why’? Why things are happening as they do, and how you can influence them. When I joined Wirepas a few years back I had one question in mind: how to resolve the technology lock-in that exists in most of the spectrum globally. Wirepas had a great technology so what spectrum could we access with it and how? And in what spectrum could anyone set up a wireless service?”

But where to start? With 30 years of experience in major telecom industry companies and working 20 years with wireless standards organizations, including in 3G and 4G technology development in 3GPP, Jussi had a good idea. He began evaluating radio spectrum options.  

“The regulations play a significant role in radio spectrum access. Together with my colleague Juho Pirskanen, we recognized that ETSI’s DECT group was open for a major technology step to improve their radio technology. We knew that standardization is a joint effort of interested companies. Juho and I, together with other companies, worked intensively for more than two years and were able to complete the work in June 2020 on the Technical Committee of DECT,” says Jussi, who also became the Vice Chair of the committee.

What makes this standard so interesting is that it addresses a clear gap in the current IoT connectivity environment: “With this technology one can address, with the same design, industrial applications requiring either or both massive scale (mMTC) and ultra-reliable low latency (URLLC). Today, no reliable and affordable solution exists for mMTC and none covers both mMTC and URLLC, while there is a strong need for these from the industry. In this sense, the new standard complements nicely the current cellular 5G technology,” Jussi explains.

DECT-2020 NR system is very easy to deploy and operate. It can be deployed anywhere by anyone in no time thanks to the de-centralized device-based decisions. DECT-2020 NR enables autonomous and automatic operation with minimal maintenance effort, and there is no need for separate network infrastructure deployment. With its dedicated global frequency band at around 1900 MHz, it offers a low-interference environment and excellent interference management possibilities.

“What is really fascinating in this spectrum is that it is a single technology band, opening additional opportunities to design a good, performing radio,” Jussi says. In the new DECT-2020 NR standard the radio is indeed world-class: the physical layer uses advanced radio technologies to boost the 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.

“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,” Jussi concludes.

But this is just the start of the Wirepas standardization journey. Stay tuned for more to come!