Brief introduction to the LPWAN landscape 2018-12-03T11:17:33+00:00

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:

Low-Power Consumption

Communications through the network must be power-efficient and allow devices to operate on small batteries that could last over 10 years.

Long Range

Devices must be able to connect over a long distance (up to tens of kms in rural areas) and connectivity should have deep penetration capabilities to include indoor use cases.

Low Cost

LPWAN target an objective of chipset costs below 5$ and connectivity subscription fee below 1$, notably by reusing license-free spectrum band or shared with cellular technologies.

Massive Volume of Devices

A single LPWAN gateway should provide connectivity to thousands of devices distributed over kms.

Simple & rapid deployment

Deployment of both the end-devices and the network infrastructure must stay be quick and inexpensive.

Long Device Battery Life

Once deployed, LPWAN devices must operate for several years without human intervention.

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.

Founded by the American “Semtech”, the LoRa Alliance brings together operators and manufacturers with the aim of promoting networks compatible with the LoRa modulation technology.

A device connected to a LoRa network can technically change from one operator to another for commercial reasons or roaming agreements by taking advantage of the consortium.

lora-alliance.org

Sigfox deploys a network of its own with its own proprietary protocol. It guarantees simple and fast deployments for devices integrating a Sigfox chip. Plus, a full interoperability between covered countries avoids roaming management for their users.

Sigfox currently has a slight worldwide lead in terms of connected devices and geographical coverage.

sigfox.com

Introduced in 2017, the 3GPP promotes solutions based on cellular networks. Carried by dedicated licensed frequencies (thus not congested), these networks are supposed to ensure a guarantee of transport of the data and to guarantee compatibility and interoperability between networks.

Today, we 46 operators worldwide support NB-IoT and 13 LTE-M.

3gpp.org

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!

Discover the technology “SCHC”

Acklio removes all main barriers to LPWAN adoption

Seamless interoperability

Integration to the IP World, thanks to compression, fragmentation, … enable IP/TCP on any LPWAN networks.

Security by design

End-to-end security, IP tunnel from the service to the end application platform. Consistency with the security. Policy of your own IT.

Native scalability

Don’t try to implement interoperability or security with bespoke patches now. They won’t scale. Build your IoT on clean standard foundations to keep calm when it’s time to scale!

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