The tremendous growth of machine-tomachine (M2M) applications has been a great attractor to cellular network operators to provide machine-type communication services. One of the important challenges for cellular systems supporting M2M terminals is coverage, because terminals can be located in spaces in buildings and structures suffering from significant penetration losses. Since these terminals are also often stationary, they are permanently without cellular coverage.
To address this critical issue, the third generation partnership project (3GPP), and in particular its radio access network technical specification group, commenced work on coverage enhancement (CE) for long-term evolution (LTE) systems in June 2013. This article reviews the CE objectives defined for LTE machine-type communication and presents CE methods for LTE downlink and uplink channels discussed in this group. The presented methods achieve CE in a spectrally efficient manner and without notably affecting performance for legacy (non- M2M) devices.