Smart Buildings

IBM and Semtech launch LoRaWAN for The Internet of Things

“I firmly believe that there is not a single industry that won’t benefit from IoT” said Vernon Turner, senior vice president of research and IoT executive lead at International Data Corp. Today, it is hard to find any technology news these days without a link to the Internet of Things (IoT). This all-encompassing technological concept paints a picture of our future, which would be at home in a science fiction novel. While any individual example of an IoT application may seem undramatically realistic with today’s technology, envisioning a world of IoT begins to stretch the imagination on the scale of data transfer, cost of hardware and threat of security breaches. One of the most significant questions being asked about the feasibility of an IoT rich world is whether our current connectivity infrastructure could handle this broad level of data transfer. Indeed, the sheer number of potential “things” sending and receiving data over huge distances creates […]

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“I firmly believe that there is not a single industry that won’t benefit from IoT” said Vernon Turner, senior vice president of research and IoT executive lead at International Data Corp.

Today, it is hard to find any technology news these days without a link to the Internet of Things (IoT). This all-encompassing technological concept paints a picture of our future, which would be at home in a science fiction novel. While any individual example of an IoT application may seem undramatically realistic with today’s technology, envisioning a world of IoT begins to stretch the imagination on the scale of data transfer, cost of hardware and threat of security breaches.

One of the most significant questions being asked about the feasibility of an IoT rich world is whether our current connectivity infrastructure could handle this broad level of data transfer. Indeed, the sheer number of potential “things” sending and receiving data over huge distances creates a situation that WiFi and GSM were never designed to deal with.

Enter IBM Research and Semtech, who announced their new technology “LoRaWAN” (Long Range wide-area networks). The IoT network specification promises significant advantages over cellular networks and Wi-Fi for providing machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

IBM said LoRaWAN sensors can communicate over distances of more than 100 km (62 miles) in favourable environments, 15 km (9 miles) in typical semi-rural environments and more than 2 km (1.2 miles) in dense urban environments at data rates from 300 bit/s up to 100 Kbps. This makes them well suited for sending small amounts of data, such as GPS coordinates and climate readings, where broadband can't reach. The sensors also require very little energy to operate; most can run for 10 years or more on a single AA battery.

It is the latest in a long list of technologies targeting The Internet of Things. We take an in-depth look at how some of these technologies will impact Smart Buildings in our comprehensive report http://memoori.com/portfolio/internet-things-smart-buildings-2014-2020/

IBM, Semtech, and other companies also announced the establishment of the LoRa Alliance, a new association to support and develop the standardisation of LoRaWAN. The alliance aims to combine hardware and software based on the LoRaWAN standard for telecom operators and network operators, enabling them to offer IoT services to both businesses and consumers.

The LoRa Alliance describe themselves as an open, non-profit association of members who believe the IoT era has arrived. They aim to standardize LPWAN (low power wide-area networks) being deployed around the world to enable IoT, machine-to-machine (M2M), and smart city, and industrial applications.

“With LoRaWAN, entire cities or countries can be covered with a few base stations, no longer requiring the upfront rollout and maintenance of thousands of nodes as in traditional mesh networking. This has made IoT possible now, with minimal infrastructure investment”, claimed Olivier Hersent, CEO of Actility, a leading LPWAN solution provider.

“Time-to-market is critical for operators that want to capture the IoT opportunity. We have taken a holistic approach with a platform that addresses not only core network management, but also customer enrolment, activation and billing and facilitates purchasing of third party value-added services. We can enable commercial LPWA networks in less than a month,“ said Hersent, who also hold’s the role of secretary of the technical working group of the LoRa Alliance.

LoRaWAN is a LPWAN specification intended specifically for wireless battery operated ‘things’ in regional, national or global networks. It targets the key requirements of IoT such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services.

The standard being developed by the Alliance should provide seamless interoperability among smart ‘things’ without the need of complex local installations enabling the unrestrained role out of IoT.

Through LoRaWAN, communication between end-devices and gateways is spread out on different frequency channels and data rates. The selection of the data rate is a trade-off between communication range and message duration. Due to the spread spectrum technology, communications with different data rates do not interfere with each other and create a set of "virtual" channels increasing the capacity of the gateway.

"The Internet of Things is already changing our world – from better traffic control on our highways, to greater energy efficiency in buildings and manufacturing operations, to reduced crime on our city streets" said Thorsten Kramp, Master Inventor at IBM Research, on the day of the announcement. "Technology advancements like the one we're announcing today will help significantly advance that vision by extending the range and longevity of sensors that make up an intelligent world".

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