Weightless M2M Network & Architecture

- an overview of the 'Weightless' network, its constituents and how the architecture operates to provide M2M communications.

The Weightless M2M network and network architecture is a key area of the overall Weightless system.

The Weightless specification covers the interface from the base station into the network, but unlike cellular systems, there are no defined interfaces within the network.

By adopting this approach, it is possible to utilise a variety of backhaul methods.

Weightless network

The Weightless network is relatively simple. Combined with the variety of backhaul methods used, the Weightless specification covers the interface from the base station into the backhaul network, but no interfaces within the network itself as this is not necessary.

A basic view of the Weightless network is given in the diagram below.

Weightless network overview
Weightless network overview

From this it can be seen that the Weightless network is very straightforward when compared to a cellular network that includes a large number of entities.

Weightless network functional elements

Within the Weightless network there are a number of elements or entities that are key to its operation. These may run on a machine in some suitable location or within the cloud.

The main entities are:

  • Base station controller:   The Weightless base station controller provides a point of contact into the network for a group of base stations. It also provides pre-formatted data frames to the base stations.
  • Authentication :   As with any network it is important to ensure that only authorisers users are able to access the network. This Weightless network entity holds the terminal and base station authorisation data.

    The authentication entity may also include some encryption activities to ensure that any data sent remains secure. The keys for this encryption are held within the authorisation centre.
  • Location register :   The Weightless location register, like other location registers holds the last know location of a particular user or terminal. This enables the correct base station to be addressed to route any messages.
  • Broadcast register :   The broadcast register holds information about groups and their membership. It can be used to store and process data relating to broadcast messages.
  • Operations and maintenance centre, OMC :   The OMC provides many operational functions including that of monitoring the overall function of the network and detection of any errors and failures.
  • Billing:   In order to provide billing it is necessary to record activity of terminals, groups and users. This is undertaken by the billing entity within the Weightless network.
  • White space database:   In order to know what spectrum to use at any given location, the preferred option currently appears to be to refer to a database of available spectrum for given locations. Other cognitive technologies have been proposed for various white space technologies, but these are not always able to completely avoid causing interference as a result of poor terminal antennas not detecting all stations present.

Although it can be seen that there are a number of different entities within the Weightless network, it can be seen that it is much more straightforward than other networks including cellular networks.

By Ian Poole

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