Kerlink Brings LoRaWAN Connectivity to Scotland, Japan

By Claire Swedberg

Network and technology providers are signed up to provide the firm's hardware, network server, software and application for IoT-based solutions to track and manage data about infrastructure and assets for greater efficiency.

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Kerlink has signed several contracts that will expand the company’s global reach with its Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for tracking sensor data and the movements of vehicles or assets through its Wirnet iBTS gateways. During the past few weeks, Kerlink has signed agreements with Boston Networks to create an IoT network across Scotland, and with Macnica Networks Corp. to provide similar solutions throughout Japan.

Kerlink provides its Wirnet outdoor gateways to capture and transmit data using the low-power wide-area LoRaWAN protocol. It employs what Kerlink calls the iBTS software platform to carry transmissions to a server. Boston Networks chose Kerlink’s global solution, including hardware network server, network management software layer and geolocation application, for the three-year, £6 million ($7.8 million) IoT project in Scotland, aimed at providing applications and services via a wireless network. The solution is initially aimed at tracking municipal equipment and infrastructure, such as waste bins and smart lightings, with the goal of increasing energy efficiency and decreasing the nation’s carbon footprint, explains Yannick Delibie, Kerlink’s president and CEO.

Kerlink’s Yannick Delibie

For the project, Kerlink is supplying 500 Wirnet iBTS gateways. It will also provide remote, real-time management of those devices from its Wanesy Management Center. The gateways typically offer a coverage area of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) or more in semi-urban areas, or 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) in urban areas in which buildings and other structures may create transmission blocks. They come with firewalling features for security purposes, as well as the ability to carry out secure firmware remote upgrades.

The gateways receive transmissions from LoRa-based sensor devices attached to waste bins or other objects, then forward that information to the back-end server via a 4G connection. The system can also calculate location information using Kerlink’s Wanesy Geolocation technology. With the Wanesy solution, gateways measure signal strength and angle through triangulation.

The deployment across Scotland will consist of gateways installed at two types of sites. Some will be implemented in urban areas, Delibie says—most typically on rooftops. The others, installed on posts 20 meters (66 feet) in height, will be deployed across the more rural sections of the country. “That provides a complete connectivity network,” he states, that can be used for energy management, initially in public buildings.

Beyond the initial use case, Delibie says, what’s interesting “is that we are providing our ecosystem for future use cases and partners.” This, he explains, means further deployments that might include entirely different applications, such as bike sharing or asset tracking, could use the same hardware and data from Kerlink. For instance, the triangulation capability makes it possible for users to monitor the locations of bicycles, cars or pallets that have sensors attached to them.

The deployment breaks past a barrier that has stymied IoT adoption in some ways, Delibie notes. “It’s a classical problem with communication networks,” he says. “We need connectivity to deploy the technology for an application, but we need an application for installation of the infrastructure.” The Scotland project is poised to meet that challenge.

To gain full connectivity with location data across every meter of Scotland, Delibie says, the deployment would need to include far more than 500 gateways. In fact, he estimates, approximately 4,000 would be required to provide granular data across the entire country. However, the initial deployment makes it possible to simply add more infrastructure as needed.

The Boston Networks deployment is expected to be completed before January 2019. Macnica Networks, meanwhile, is marketing and selling Kerlink’s solutions. The firm works with organizations that provide technological advances in network devices and software for Japanese customers. The partnership will focus on importing, developing and marketing hardware and software, as well as consulting and maintenance services related to networks, computers and communications systems.