A brief introduction to LPWAN
The Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) are a set of long-range communication technologies. They are dedicated to transporting over long distances small amounts of data from devices that operate on battery for several years. They appeared in 2015 in the wake of innovations in electronic components to meet the needs of the Internet of Things. LPWANs owe their recent popularity to the following characteristics:
LPWAN and the IoT networks landscape
By multiplicating sensors in our homes, factories, cities, and fields, the Internet of Things’ promises to bring intelligence to our environment for better resource management and efficient processes.
The existing networks so far were not adapted to these new use cases. On the one hand, cellular solutions have evolved in the sense of always supporting more services and bandwidth to personal devices. And on the other hand, the networks for home automation like as ZigBee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, offer very low coverage still being energy intensive for devices.
These new LPWAN technologies complement the landscape of network technologies by offering a very long range and low power solution. The counterpart is a very low bandwidth for data transport, still sufficient to cover a growing number of use cases:
• Antenna range: 3 to 50 km (urban / rural)
• Sensor autonomy: 5 to 15 years
• Rate: 0.1 to few hundreds kbits / sec
• Subscription: one to few dollars per year
The main LPWAN options today
The LPWAN landscape is only a few-year-old and evolves rapidly. The market has been opened by technologies operating in the unlicensed spectrum. Among them, Sigfox and LoRa built important ecosystems that give them a leading position today. They have been joined by solutions transmitting in licensed frequency bands: NB-IoT and LTE-M carried by 3GPP and carried by mobile operators.
But market still waiting to take off
Despite the IoT boom announced by every single market research for several years now, the market does not follow the forecasts. Among the reasons: these emerging networks do not follow the Internet model based on IP protocols. These connectivity solutions are not interoperable and are challenging to integrate with existing architectures and information systems. Thus the market remains organized into technological silos.
Each IoT project involves first to choose a technology, then to adjust the choice of devices and platforms and to manage integration with the existing architecture.
Having to choose a technology equals to take a risk on the obsolescence, the investment durability and the simple and secure use of the data.
At Acklio we believe that each of these technologies has its place. Each property is suited to a particular use case, and this makes them complementary and rich. However, to reveal their full potential, we believe it is essential to break down the technological silos that isolate them. So the solution is straightforward: bring them into the IP world!
Still, why Internet Protocols (IP) was not enabled on these networks as soon as these technologies were launched? The answer is simple: because the entire community thought it was impossible. In other words, because the stack of IP protocols is considered too greedy to be transported by the constraints LPWAN networks.
Well, that’s what everyone thought before 2016 and Acklio’s innovation!