Low power connections open up powerful options for enterprise IoT
As low power wide area (LPWA) radio technologies and LoRa WAN in particular start to take off organisations are benefiting from wider connectivity choices and reduced barriers to entry. These new connectivity options are vital to stimulate further utilisation of IoT, Stream Technologies' Mohsen Shakoor and Niall Strachan tell George Malim
The arrival into commercial reality of low power radio technologies is democratising access to connectivity. Where once enterprises would have had to engage with cellular network operators or specialist providers of traditional, high power radio networks or rely on the limited characteristics of VHF radio, they are now enabled to deploy LPWA technologies quickly and simply themselves. This gives greater control to the organisation and enables it to maintain security across its deployment sites.
"We're sat at a different level in the industry to most IoT technology vendors and that means we see different approaches from larger enterprises that are properly considering LPWA as part of their strategy and rolling it out to their customer base," says Mohsen Shakoor, who leads strategic partnerships for Stream Technologies' IoT-X platform. "That has been a significant development in the last six to eight months."
Shakoor says the rise of new connectivity options such as LoRaWAN have made it easier for companies to consider deploying their own wireless networks because there are fewer intricacies involved in setting up networks based on these technologies. "With LoRaWAN, you can own every element inside a privately run network by developing the software and then building and deploying the gateway, or you can outsource various components or all of it," he adds.
Part of the appeal of technologies such as this is that these are not theoretical solutions that are untested. "LoRaWAN, for example, was ratified more than a year ago and, while it may have taken some time for vendors to initially develop their solutions to comply with the LoRaWAN specification, in the last year there has been a massive wave of traction due to the solutions and gateways coming to market with full interoperability," says Niall Strachan, the chief software architect at Stream Technologies. "There has been an acceleration of interest over the last six months and that is becoming progressively more intense as enterprises and network operators use Stream's IoT-X platform to manage their private or public networks and not just low power ones."
That's an interesting development that is seeing the stranglehold of cellular networks on IoT device provisioning at the lower data end of the sector start to erode. "The cellular players are beginning to be challenged significantly by LPWA," confirms Strachan. "Low power challenges the traditional low use cellular market place and, with 2G sunsetting starting to appear in network operators' strategies, we're seeing customers migrate to alternative technologies."