Cobham Wireless, a global leader in the provision of advanced wireless coverage and mobile communication systems, has announced that the next generation of the TM500 network test system has the capability to emulate tens of thousands of Machine Type Communications (MTC) devices, sometimes known as M2M devices. This enables network operators and infrastructure vendors to validate 4G cellular network performance in preparation for deploying Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

The next-generation TM500 can evaluate the effect on the network of connecting large numbers of low-power, low-complexity UEs (user equipment) for MTC applications. Non-speech devices that will use MTC will include smart meters, security cameras, environmental sensors, and a whole range of industrial and commercial sensors and controllers. Unlike mobile phones, MTC devices need to have an extended battery life of up to ten years, low unit cost, and a low cost of deployment. Using cellular networks to connect MTC devices offers the benefit of wide area coverage on an existing stable network.

“The main driver for MTC is the widely-publicised forecast that LTE networks will be used to support the development of the Internet of Things,” said Phil Medd, Senior Technical Product Manager at Cobham Wireless. “With billions of non-speech devices expected to be connected over the next 10 years, it is crucial that network operators can optimise the current 4G networks to connect them, rather than needing to wait for the promised 5G capacity increase.”

The Cobham Wireless TM500 is already the industry standard network test platform, used by all the major infrastructure vendors worldwide to validate their networks under realistic usage and loading scenarios. By continuing to innovate when it comes to new 3GPP features, the TM500 continues to stay ahead of market need, empowering network operators to prove network performance under real-life usage conditions before the availability of actual device hardware.

A live demonstration of the next-generation TM500 network tester and a prototype IoT traffic generator for 5G were both recently showcased at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.