Thursday, 06 July 2017 10:43

$40 billion arms race for standards supremacy in low-power IoT networks

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IoT is the future, even if we worry it’s the Internet of hackable and crackable things, which standard will win – Sigfox, LoRaWAN, NB-IOT or something else?

Respected and quality research firms regularly give us a learned look into potential futures, and the world of IoT is no different.

We’re told by research firm IDTechEx and its technology analyst, Dr David Pugh, that more than 10 billion devices will be connected to low-power IoT networks over the next decade.

He continues: “Emerging Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs)” are being deployed around the world, “using both licensed and unlicensed spectrum by a number of key players in the communications industry to connect devices to the internet and get value from the data they produce".

Additionally, as the headline and intro paragraph alludes, “an emerging market for Low Power networks communicating on unlicensed spectrum has been developing for the last 4 years, however this could potentially be threatened by the emergency of new cellular standard of communication, utilising existing infrastructure to roll out a global IoT network in a very short amount of time".

This is where the new report from IDTechEx Research, dubbed “Low Power Wireless Networks 2017-2027” comes in, which as always is on sale to relevant parties at relevant prices.

IDTechEx naturally bills its report as giving “an independent and comprehensive analysis of the wireless networking ecosystem covering a range of technologies, using both licensed and unlicensed spectrum to communicate".

The research “mentions over 120 companies working in this space from across the value chain. Primary research has been conducted based on primary interviews with network operators, semiconductor manufacturers, licensing companies and device manufacturers".

As you might expect, it covers both the “well establishes wireless personal area networks (WPAN) – covering the smart home and wearable space as well as LPWAN technologies, both using unlicensed and licensed spectrum".

In addition, it also covers both “the competitive industry with detailed analysis of the difference between each network type but also an analysis or real world uses and case studies".

These areas are:

Smart home – Intelligent building networks are moving past the early adopter stage into the early majority, with government regulation driving the need for connected utilities and intelligent lighting and environmental management being used to make homes and offices more energy efficient, wireless networks play a key role in the connected building.

Smart City – Governments around the world are investing heavily in adding connected infrastructure to their environments, primarily in streetlighting and environmental monitoring solutions among other applications. Utilising low power wireless networks.

Asset tracking – While GPS is a popular source of asset location, it has high power requirements, making it unsuitable for low power applications, geolocation is possible using several low power networks and providing new methods of pallet, animal and people tracking.

Agriculture – Technology is increasingly entering the agricultural space with new ways to monitor crops, water usage, environmental conditions and other aspects designed to ensure produce uniformity and good yields on farms and vineyards. The long range and low power requirements of LPWAN networks make them ideal for such applications.

For those tempted to purchase the research, we’re told that it “gives a detailed overview of all these areas as well as 10 year forecasts on deployment, hardware and subscription market values”, and is “of use to individuals across the value chain seeking to gain value from low power wireless networks and understand the potential and limitations of such technologies".

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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