Belgium’s Proximus is the latest European telecom operator to back LoRa (Long Range, Low Power) technology for an Internet of Things (IoT) network. The new network will be available in major cities in Belgium before the end of this year. In 2016 Proximus will roll out the network throughout Belgium and in Luxembourg.
The network is designed specifically to provide objects such as buildings, machines, cars and household appliances with sensors and connect them with the Internet. The sensors collect valuable information about their condition and/or environment. Through the LoRa network and the Internet they exchange this information so that they can be monitored, operated and controlled remotely.
The Proximus network, based on the LoRa Alliance open LoRaWAN standard, is expected to provide the necessary building blocks for service providers and enterprises to develop their own tailor-made IoT solutions quickly, including LoRa-based sensors and base stations, as well as the applications for managing the sensors, processing the data, and managing the connectivity of each device connected to the network whether it is in a smart building, on a mountain, or inside a machine, car or smart appliance.
In collaboration with Actility, Proximus initially deployed and tested its IoT, LoRa-based network in ten major urban areas in Belgium as well as in Luxembourg City. The technology has a capacity ranging from 1 Kbps to 50 Kbps, which means that it can function with low frequencies (ISM 868 MHz or 900 MHz band). As a result, a LoRa antenna offers extensive coverage outdoors and in buildings.
Moreover, the low frequency and technology ensure very low energy consumption. As a result, the batteries in the sensors can easily last more than five years without having to be recharged. LoRa technology is very secure due to standard encryption (128-bit AES) of all communications, and the network capacity can be easily extended to meet future market needs.
Remote asset tracking and facility management were some of the initial applications set up on the network. The IoT network was used to track freight carts at Zaventem Airport in Brussels to pilot test the program, and is soon expected to also be used in a variety of smart building and smart city applications, including a smart parking solution that will help guide car drivers to the nearest empty parking space.
“We are pleased that after thorough testing, Proximus has decided to expand its LoRaWAN-based network nationwide for commercial use in both Belgium and Luxembourg”, said Mohan Maheswaran, President and Chief Executive Officer of Semtech. “The Proximus network will enable customers to create IoT solutions that increase operational efficiency and reduce energy consumption, while also improving safety and quality of life”.
The news in Belgium and Luxembourg comes shortly after a similar deal in the Netherlands between Actility and Dutch telecom operator KPN. KPN has selected Actility’s end-to-end LoRaWAN-based core network ThingPark Wireless solution for the nationwide IoT network and targets full country coverage by the end of 2016.
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“LoRa powered by Actility offers KPN all of the benefits of a new class of IoT networks; low-power, low-overhead, and low-cost plus advantages including true two-way communication, localisation and dynamic bandwidth assignment”, said Jacob Groote, VP Mobile Operations at KPN. Along with Orange and Swisscom, KPN is an investor in LoRa-based IoT firm Actility.
The LoRa Alliance is one of the fastest growing IoT alliances in Europe and around the world. Launched in April to define and promote a low power, secure, carrier grade standard for low power wide area IoT connectivity, LoRa Alliance membership has surpassed 130 members in just six months. These companies, which include chip and module vendors, network software developers, OEMs and network operators, are all working together to develop an open specification for the next generation of IoT networks and devices. The Alliance named Geoff Mulligan chairman to lead the fast-paced growth and drive the specification work."The LoRa technology and the LoRaWAN specification are a critical missing piece for the widespread deployment of the Internet of Things", Mulligan said. "And because the LoRaWAN specification is open, it provides a phenomenal foundation for businesses and operators to develop business models for deployment that best meet the needs of the specific applications, including smart energy, intelligent transportation, industrial manufacturing, commercial building management, and smart cities".