Race for the IoT connectivity standard

According to McKinsey Global Institute, by 2025 we should expect 50 billion connected devices or nodes, representing $6 trillion of incremental business. Such high and hard to even imagine number of concurrently reporting nodes will present significant challenges. Starting with security, but also handling tremendous amount of data generated by all these nodes, even registering so many devices. All these will have to be accommodated by underneath wide area network technology supporting IoT. Lets don’t forget about other factors such as cost and low power requirements. In order to adopt IoT, the overhead cost (radio and supporting electronics) should be reasonable low or around $5. From practical perspective, nodes should be able to operate for years on a single set of small batteries. Ideally, subscriptions (aka mobile) are out of questions as this model would quickly become unmanageable and way too expensive.

The race to define IoT connectivity standard has already began…

As of today, we can refer to two type of networks; narrow band and lte based.

LPWA-connectivityNokia White Paper, LTE-M

Narrow band networks:
Sigfox, uses unlicensed frequencies (868 MHz in Europe and 915 MHz in the US & Canada). Sigfox has submitted the technology to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Weightless is a standard designed to operate in the TV White Space bands.

LoRa, uses unlicensed frequencies (868 MHz in Europe and 915 MHz in the US & Canada).

On-Ramp Wireless RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) technology based on unlicensed 2.4GHz band.

Huawei/Neul clean-slate technology (FDMA) is focusing to standardize under 3GPP GERAN for licensed spectrum operation.

NR-LTE: Narrow band LTE; Joint effort by Ericsson, Intel and Nokia.

LTE:
In order to meet low cost / high range requirements, “release 13” devices would have to be deployed. The expected date for mass deployment is mid 2017.

This gives advantage and opportunity to narrow band technologies to define IoT WAN standard before alternative options are even available. As of today Sigfox and LoRa are the strongest players with several city wide deployments and lots of support from commercial entities.

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