On Friday, Verizon launched the first national LTE Cat-M1 network in the US. LTE Cat-M1 is a low-power variant of 4G LTE designed specifically for enterprise IoT use.
Verizon will charge enterprises as little as $2 per month for each connected device. This adds to the wealth of connectivity options available to IoT providers.
Verizon is ahead of other network operators, including AT&T, in offering LTE Cat-M1 connectivity. Other companies, such as Australian-based network operator Telestra, have deployed the network in other areas of the world, but not in the US or other large markets.
While this network adds to the plethora of connectivity options for the IoT, it might not be the game changer Verizon is betting it to be. A BI Intelligence survey of IoT providers in Q4 2016 found that 80% used Wi-Fi for connectivity, 60% used cellular connections, 59% used Bluetooth, 46% used Ethernet, and 46% used a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN). But this wealth of connectivity options might confuse or overwhelm implementers of IoT solutions, causing them to instead turn to connectivity options they're more familiar with, such as traditional cellular or Wi-Fi connections.
Although Wi-Fi and cellular networks can connect IoT devices to the internet, they have inherent characteristics that make them ill-suited to do so for small, low-power components like sensors, smart locks, and smart lights.
BI Intelligence expects that more than 24 billion IoT devices will be installed globally in 2020, and the vast majority of these will fall into the small, low-power category.
So networks that are better suited to connect these low-power IoT devices — notably,Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) — are being developed. These networks can connect devices over large geographic areas because of their long range, but use less battery power on the devices they connect and offer cheaper data subscriptions than traditional cellular networks. Interest in LPWANs among IoT providers and end users is growing in response to the opportunities these benefits present. For example, a municipality deploying parking sensors for a smart transportation project could lower its costs by using a LPWAN instead of a cellular network. It would also then be able to replace the batteries on the sensors far less frequently.
BI Intelligence has compiled a detailed report on LPWANs that explains the impact they will have on the growth of the IoT and the benefits of using LPWANs for IoT connections. It also forecasts the internet connections and subscription revenues associated with these networks and explains in detail the many standards for LPWANs that exist today. Finally, it lays out the current market landscape going forward as different network providers launch LPWANs.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Low Power Wide Area Networks are specifically designed for connecting low-power devices like sensors over a very long range. This makes them well suited to a wide range of IoT use cases like smart agriculture and smart cities.
- Low Power Wide Area Networks can connect these low-power devices at a cheaper cost than existing cellular networks. LPWANs have cheaper hardware costs and data subscription costs because they don’t need to provide the high data rates that cellular networks do.
- BI Intelligence estimates that the total number of IoT devices connected over LPWANs will reach 700 million by 2021. This represents remarkable growth for such a new technology that has little present adoption.
- A number of startups and new networking providers are launching LPWANs using standards that leverage unlicensed spectrum. These providers are trying to secure networking revenues from the billions of low-power IoT devices that will go online over the next few years.
- Cellular network carriers are responding to this trend by developing their own standards for LPWANs that leverage their existing infrastructure that supports their 4G networks. This means they will be competing directly with some of the new providers mentioned above.
- Different LPWAN standards are best suited for specific use cases, and business and government organizations will need to understand the benefits of the various standards to find the solution that fits their needs.
In full, the report:
- Details the broad need for low-cost, low-power internet connectivity for IoT devices that LPWANs will help meet.
- Forecasts the growth of the LPWAN market including new networking providers and traditional mobile carriers that are launching their own LPWANs.
- Examines how LPWANs will be adopted by different industries that are launching IoT projects.
- Compares the distinct characteristics and advantages of different standards for LPWANs.
- Explains how the LPWAN market will develop over the coming years in regards to different standards and competitors.
- Examines what the future of internet network connectivity for IoT devices will look like, including LPWANs and the coming of 5G mobile networks.
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The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of LPWANs.
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