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Pre-study for European level M2M standardisation
For further information please contact:

Anastasius Gavras
Programme Manager
Wieblinger Weg 19/4
69123 Heidelberg, Germany

Project Information
What is this Project about?

The evolving Internet of Things (IoT) may potentially cause an explosion in the number of communicating Connected Objects (CO). Even when most of these objects contribute with limited traffic, the sum may well become a significant source on the Internet. IoT must also find its places in the Future Internet architecture. M2M services could benefit the society in many areas, including environmental, health care, trade, transportation, alarms and surveillance. However, such development depends on the availability of global interoperability and powerful communications features.

There are urgent actions to be taken to pave the way for this development to take place, in order to benefit individuals, interested parties and the community as a whole. The pivotal point is establishment of a global market through service ubiquity. This requires new attitudes with respect to cooperation, coordination and standardisation in order to ensure inter-carrier interoperability. Interoperability is not only required for provision of a standard QoS controlled IP bearer, but also for cross domain security, mobility, multicast, location, routing and management, including fair compensation for utility provisioning. Although the requirement for these features varies between the different scenarios, standardisation would allow a smooth incorporation into the overall architecture.

The background for the strong interoperability demand is described by Metcalfe's Law, stating that the usefulness of a network increases by the square of the number of nodes (users or devices) connected to the network. Furthermore, Reed’s law states that the utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network. Formation of such groups is gradually happening, e.g. the social utility Facebook which connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. These strong positive network externalities, where the benefits are an increasing function of the number of other users, represent a huge commercial potential which may be severely reduced by the lack of interconnect and missing ubiquity in service support and provisioning.

The two critical elements for the support of ubiquitous services are interoperability for services and bearers. Bearer interoperability requires both interoperability for the IP bearer (user plane) and for the bearer control (control plane). There is a whole range of alternative QoS bearer control mechanisms, including RSVP, DiffServ, NSIS, RACF and RACS. These alternatives are in many cases incompatible. Additionally, there are two IP versions (V4 and V6) and no standard security for the bearer, which also cause incompatibility. The lack of Standards Development Organisation (SDO), operator and vendor coordination in this area can be paralleled to the lack of incumbent ISP coordination for the Internet, e.g. for inter-carrier QoS provisioning and multicast. This hampers the introduction and pickup of new ubiquitous services. The ICT industry will gain by settling these matters, i.e. by attaining a new attitude towards cooperation and coordination, in order to create a larger market as the arena for competition. There is a strong need to develop and agree on an IoT architecture for this purpose.

M2M Standardization is a strategic topic for ETSI in 2008. The huge opportunities the M2M market presents were highlighted at the ETSI workshop the 4th and 5th of June on the subject. It was clear from this workshop that there is a need for requirements gathering and concentration specifically for this market, and independently of any specific technology committee (such as those dealing with wireless sensor technologies, mobile networks or service layer standardization). At the workshop there were strong calls to establish an ETSI group which would act as a focal point for M2M standardization activities, gathering consensus on requirements, and enabling ETSI members to co-ordinate their activities in other M2M standardization groups. The first step to establishing an ETSI group is to put in place a Board ad hoc group which would be charged with evaluating needs and drafting a scope and terms of reference due by the end of 2008.

What are the main objectives of this Project?

The required architecture for M2M should include a secure Application Programming Interface (API), a backbone and separate device networks with standard interface to the backbone. It must offer harmonised functionality required to serve as a baseline for standardisation and implementation. The API and the backbone, with an open device network interface, should be given priority in order so ensure interoperability, ubiquity, and evolutionary flexibility. The architecture must be more generic than traditional hierarchical sensor and actuator networks as it must support grids and autonomous neural type of networks.

There is also an urgent demand for a standard API for end-to-end service control. An API would decouple innovation of services and service logic from protocols and network elements. It will also support service portability between systems, i.e. a service may be allocated to end-systems or servers with possible relocation and replication throughout its lifecycle, e.g. for migration of a trial peer-to-peer service to a network centric production version.

Incorporating M2M services in today’s and future Internet, based on cooperation and coordination, e.g. on new selective standards, will ensure global interoperability, evolve Internet towards a ubiquitous IoT, enlarge the market, stimulate competition, and remove obstacles for innovation. The value of the IoT market will be extended, not only by new service offerings for M2M, but additionally by the value increase caused by positive network externalities resulting from general service ubiquity.

The migration to the true all-IP IoT may be achieved through obeying the following goals:

  • Cooperation and coordination, with standards development, to ensure ubiquitous services in an enlarged competitive pan European market
  • Fair and flexible compensation
  • Architecture with secure API:
  • Decoupling applications and network infrastructure
  • Decoupling backbone and device networks
  • Object identifiers from “secure” namespace(s), e.g. supporting service relocation and replication
  • Integrating fixed and mobile networks
  • Integrating sessions and the connectionless class of services
  • Decoupling of API methods (i.e. primitives) and data type definitions
  • Early piloting and deployment on European scale.

The condition for success is to avoid the mistakes made by ISPs for the Internet, i.e. by not cooperating and coordinating, in order to allow interoperability at the Internet layer for service ubiquity, effectively enlarging the market to the benefit of the whole ICT industry.

A European draft standard architecture for the IoT should be trialled in parallel to its development. The official trial is proposed to be conducted by ETSI, and should commence as early as possible.

The study shall:

  1. Collect requirements for M2M communications in the IoT.
  2. Explore the design space for IoT architecture by describing technologies of relevance for an API, for the core network, for device networks and for interfaces.
  3. Identify relevant standards and research endeavours which need to be considered as parts of the coordinated progress of standards and research.
  4. Define the major goals for the IoT / M2M architecture.
  5. Propose draft architecture based on functional and commercial requirements and technological opportunities.
  6. Define areas for further exploration and research, in particular related to the device networks which are expected to experience a technology evolution exceeding the pace of the law of Moore.

The objective of this study is to provide the foundation for efficient and coordinated standardisation of the IoT architecture in order to remove the business and technology obstacles emerging through uncoordinated introduction of M2M communication on the European and global scale.

The study shall improve the efficiency of this process by carrying out initial investigations and design as input to the ETSI standards work. The study shall involve but is not limited to:

  • Provide an overview of M2M requirements
  • Provide an overview of relevant technologies and architectures
  • Develop a baseline architecture as input to the ETSI standardisation.
  • Identify actors and factors that must be considered in order to ensure coordinated standards development.
Project Results
Deliverable Title  No Issue date
Recommendations for M2M standardisation D1 June 2009
Set of slides (Presentation of study results) D2 June 2009