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A New Connectivity Standard for the IoT—Building a Better Mousetrap
Why is such a standard so important for the Internet of Things?
May 07, 2017—
I recently attended the LoRa Alliance conference in London and got to see the latest and greatest in low-power wireless access (LWPA) and LoRa-enabled technologies. Never heard of LPWA or LoRa, and not sure why they matter? In addition to sharing my perspective on what's to come in the IoT connectivity arena, I want to take a step back and discuss some important questions, such as: Why do we need a special way to connect the billions of smart devices expected in the coming years? What exactly is LPWA, and why should we care about LoRa? Why is a connectivity standard for the Internet of Things so important?
The Importance of Standards
In order to deliver on the expectations for connectivity ubiquity, coverage, battery life, OPEX and ease of provisioning for the IoT, current solutions do not suffice. At present, there are basically two connectivity standard camps: players supporting the licensed band and players supporting the unlicensed band. In simple terms, it is a bit like Wi-Fi vs 3G and 4G. One technology can be deployed by anybody anywhere (your Wi-Fi router at home or in the office), while the other is "owned" by a licensed operator who has paid a 10- or 20-year concession fee to a government-regulated entity to use a certain spectrum.
Why Other IoT Connectivity Standards Failed
Where LPWA Fits Into the IoT Standard Landscape
It is starting to look like LoRa is gaining traction for a variety of use cases serving the IoT within the unlicensed spectrum. LoRa is the alternative IoT connectivity network to traditional licensed spectrum solutions such as NB-IoT and LTE-M. Buying expensive licenses to run your own network is unnecessary, as LoRa operates in frequency bands that are "unlicensed." This enables practically anybody to set up a few gateways (that are type-approved, of course), switch them on and wirelessly connect end devices.
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