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Why LPWA Connectivity in IoT is Set to Rise

4 minute read

Low power wide area (LPWA) networks are anticipated to grow in popularity as global deployments of these networks become more prolific. LPWA networks are divided into unlicensed and licensed. The licensed networks are LoRa and Sigfox. LoRa is accessed via LoRaWAN (LoRa Wide Area Network), which is the public network built off the LoRa spectrum. The two licensed LPWA networks were standardized by the 3GPP, which are Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Long Term Evolution for Machine Type Communications (LTE-M).

According to IoT Analytics, in the first half of 2021, licensed LPWA holds 54 percent of all LPWA-connected devices and unlicensed has a 46 percent share. The leading LPWA technology, according to this report, is NB-IoT which saw a 75 percent growth year over year in 2021.

LPWA networks are gaining in popularity and for several key reasons. As 2G and 3G network shutdowns continue to move forward, those leveraging IoT solutions that relied on these earlier cellular generations for low-use, low-cost connectivity are now in a situation where they have low complexity devices deployed in the field that might not be compatible with 4G LTE or 5G from a usage standpoint. The need for low-cost, low-use connectivity still remains, which is where LPWA connectivity comes into play.

Massive IoT is expected to be a growing segment of IoT, in which millions of connected devices will drive efficiency and intelligence in widespread deployments in several key verticals, including logistics, agriculture, and healthcare, as well as public works and utilities.

Because LPWA supports low-power, low-cost connectivity, connecting thousands of devices in a single deployment is much more feasible. Connectivity and hardware are affordable and the battery of the device can potentially last the entire lifecycle, which is up to 10 years. In solutions that may place devices underground, remotely, or in otherwise difficult-to-access places, not having to replace a device for 10 years helps significantly cut down on logistics challenges.

LPWA Traits Well Designed for IoT

The ability to support massive deployments of connected devices while not draining battery life or driving up usage by unnecessary pulling data more often than needed creates a combined benefit that has the potential to unlock a new decade of IoT that is defined by IoT adoption increasing exponentially. The GSMA lists the following as key characteristics:

  • Low power consumption, which can result in a battery life that is measured in years. In some use cases, upwards of 10 years in battery life is achievable
  • Optimized for brief messages, around the length of an SMS
  • Low device unit cost
  • Good indoor and outdoor coverage that previously could have been unreachable, often beyond power sources
  • Easy to install on current networks with the ability to re-use existing cellular infrastructure for an easy swap
  • Scalability through the support of large device numbers across wide geographic areas
  • Delivers end-to-end connectivity and support for authentication appropriate to the IoT application
  • Integrate into a mobile operator’s IoT platform

Leveraging LPWA in IoT Solutions

Choosing an LPWA network for your IoT solution can support greater battery life, reachability, and bandwidth. Whether it’s NB-IoT, LTE-M, or LoRaWAN, KORE can help build a mobile IoT infrastructure to help bring success to your solutions. Check out this webinar to learn more.

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Topic(s): Connectivity , Featured

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