Sequans adds Polte C-LoC software to Monarch LTE platform

The market for tracking and tracing mobile assets is estimated at more than 10 million units just for pallets. (Pixabay)

Sequans Communications will embed Polte’s Cloud Location over Cellular (C-LoC) software on its Sequans Monarch LTE chips from here on, creating what’s described as a low-cost, low-power LTE location solution for IoT that doesn’t require GPS/GNSS or other radios.

The companies say the Polte C-LoC solution provides excellent indoor location capability where GPS/GNSS cannot—and enhances location security for IoT devices to boot.

Getting an accurate handle on the indoor location of cell phones has been a problem for the wireless industry; satellites don’t work well for in-building scenarios when first responders need to find people in emergency situations. The same theory applies to IoT devices, which is where Polte is currently focused. Another big problem for GPS is the energy drain, which the companies are also aiming to improve upon with their solution.

Market analysis would seem to show a big addressable market for tracking and tracing mobile assets. Sequans and Polte cite research showing the market numbers in the billions of units, including more than 10 billion units just for pallets. The companies say their solution will make it more affordable and effective to track assets such as industrial pallets using LTE.

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A Sequans representative acknowledged that Polte claims the most accurate indoor LTE positioning out there, and it’s well known that GNSS fails in indoor situations. Sequans is not currently working with anyone other than Polte on LTE positioning technology, she told FierceWirelessTech.

It’s not the first revelation that the two companies are working together. Last February, they announced their intent to prototype a joint solution integrating Polte positioning technology into the Monarch LTE platform. While other competitors have to increase their costs, size and energy consumption by embedding GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other radios just for location purposes, their joint solution is aimed at eliminating those barriers by using LTE as the sole radio source for indoor and outdoor locations.

Polte CEO Ed Chao told FierceWirelessTech in an interview last fall that moving all the complexities to the cloud provides a lot of benefits, including getting the best location accuracy possible. For one thing, the cloud provides visibility to other cell sites, giving a bird’s-eye view of the environment that an on-board device doesn’t have.

Polte’s approach to the market is to work with chipset vendors like Sequans—it’s also publicly announced a collaboration with Riot Micro—and Chao said at the time that the company is in conversations with every major chipset partner out there, though he declined to name names. It’s also working with various system integrators that drive deals with the end customers, although Polte is also talking with end customers to understand all the use cases.

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Polte’s solution works with NB IoT, Cat M and all the cellular variations of LTE standards for IoT. The real hot spots for Polte, however, are in the LTE standards that are by definition mobile; the location of fixed objects isn’t as much of a mystery. 

Polte isn’t going after the smartphone market because it can more quickly and easily go to market with one vertically integrated set of partners like the IoT market affords rather than trying to work with a huge ecosystem to get it into the iPhone, for example. Over time, the company sees a road map that might involve helping provide location information for 911 calls or 911 for the IoT, as the C-LoC structure represents a fundamental architecture that the industry eventually needs to go to, according to Chao.

A live demo of the Sequans/Polte solution in a tracker application will be on display in Sequans' meeting room at CES next week. Plans call for the Polte C-LoC technology to be available in Monarch platforms in the first quarter of this year.