Maxxwave launches AmbiIoT: a UK mission-critical IoT network
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

Maxxwave has announced that it has launched a UK mission critical IoT network: AmbiIoT. Powered by the Ambitalk radio network, it offers coverage of much of the UK, with a range of up to 40 miles available from each transmitter site. Maxxwave claims that Ambitalk is the UK's largest PAMR radio network.

The company also states that the AmbiIoT network can deliver 1,400 data packets per second per transmitter site and this together with range and blanket coverage are underwritten by a service level agreement (SLA) with guarantees for coverage, capacity, latency and packet loss.

Unlike many current IoT solutions, such as Sigfox and LoRa, which operate on licence-exempt spectrum, AmbiIoT uses Maxxwave's nationally licenced channels, which are operated on an exclusive basis. As a consequence, Maxxwave claims that AmbiIoT users won’t experience interference from other equipment sharing the spectrum and should inference from other sources occur, Ofcom has powers to enter premises and remove the interfering equipment. Maxxwave also uses "sophisticated anti-jam technologies" to ensure business-as-usual for AmbiIoT users.

Maxxwave says that by using licensed spectrum, AmbiIoT can deliver “higher throughput with predictable metrics including sub-50ms latency”.

Intended uses of the AmbiIoT network include sensor data, telemetry, alarms, GPS data and any IoT application that requires security, reliability and availability.

The development of AmbiIoT stems from the use of the Ambitalk network for data applications and Maxxwave's experience in this area. The company has been supplying Claas for several years now with a radio data modem for their Differential GPS network (RTK), which allows them to get full coverage of East Anglia with just 18 sites. Maxxwave had also been running GPS tracking and remote alarms over the Ambitalk network.

In addition to branding and marketing the data side of the Ambitalk network as AmbiIoT, Maxxwave has taken all the data capabilities that the network has always had, and made them "publicly" available in the form of an API, allowing third-parties to quickly and easily interface straight into the network's "backbone", giving sub-millisecond latency from the application to the radio site.

Maxxwave has opted to use the existing control channel interleaved with its high speed protocol for smaller sites and uses a dedicated high speed data channel(s) on the higher usage sites. Sites can dynamically change transmitters between extra high speed data channels and voice as demand varies between the two systems. It can also increase background polling rate when the transmitter site is quiet (no voice calls), then slow it down when voice calls need additional capacity.

In addition, because the outstations/devices on the AmbiIoT network are anticipated to be fixed in place, Maxxwave can use higher antennas in better locations than on a typical mobile unit, significantly increasing the range available from all of its base stations.

As Maxwave's network "has good saturation coverage today for nomadic mobile stations then the coverage to a proper fixed station is really incredible, giving huge overlap and really good redundancy in case of a base station fail," said Samuel Hunt, Maxxwave's director. "For example - a reasonably sited base station in Hertfordshire will receive today around 15 of our transmitter sites, so there is a very good amount of redundancy. We can only do this since we have National channels - on a normal Ofcom Technically Assigned channel you are very limited with respect to fixed base stations."

Hunt explains that AmbiIoT will offer some advantages over NB-IoT. "NB-IoT isn't actually Narrowband as we know it, it is 180 khz channel width, so it doesn't perform down to the very low signal strengths that we are used to with "true" narrowband. Furthermore it is still on GSM bands so is on the high "line of sight" only frequencies rather than the low "non line of sight" frequencies we operate on. Therefore I don't see it being able to do what we can."


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