Testing LPWAN IoT technology: An essential step to a connected future: Page 2 of 4

September 13, 2018 //By Viavi Solutions
Testing LPWAN IoT technology: An essential step to a connected future
We’re well-aware of the billions of connected devices predicted to be in circulation in the coming years as part of the expanding IoT ecosystem. We’ve heard about – and seen trials of – innovative applications in myriad industries, and we’re continually learning of the new cost efficiencies and socio-economic benefits the IoT will deliver. Dr. Hayk Manukyan, Market Solutions Director, VIAVI Solutions (from the recently acquired Cobham Wireless Validation business), examines how we can sustainably and effectively connect this environment, and what operators must do to prepare their networks.

Sigfox and Lora
Sigfox and LoRa both take advantage of unlicensed spectrum. These technologies require a new network infrastructure to operate, distinct from current cellular technology.

Technology provider Sigfox operates its own network which is geared up to support the IoT. The lightweight protocol has backing from the likes of Texas Instruments, Silicon Labs, and Axom, and after establishing a presence in the European market, has looked to the US to grow its business. Since making this announcement in 2017, Sigfox USA has achieved over a 50% increase in coverage, and a 45% increase in its partner ecosystem

Sigfox uses different radio frequencies to send short bursts of data across significant distances yet consumes little power. Its urban range is 3-10km, extending to up to 50km in rural areas. This means it’s well-suited to applications like water meters, location monitoring and parking sensors – all of which are basic, one-way systems.

However, Sigfox is not an open standard, and there’s potential for higher RF interference. As such, other LPWAN technologies will also be required to support the diversity of IoT applications.

LoRa offers long battery life of at least 10 years and in some cases up to 20, and works well in dense urban areas. It is therefore viewed by many in the industry as a strong contender for supporting smart city infrastructure. It also boasts widespread support; the LoRa Alliance has hundreds of members across the globe, including telecoms companies, OEMs, system integrators, and sensor and semiconductor manufacturers. Furthermore, it uses 868-MHz/915-MHz ISM bands, available worldwide.

Like Sigfox, LoRa can be used for uplink-only applications with multiple end-points and is not suitable for real-time applications requiring low-latency. It is also limited to locations where an operator has already rolled out the network, so its coverage is still limited at present.

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