LPWA: Challenger operators could benefit from using a different technology to that of the market leader

Mobile operators have a significant opportunity to offer LPWA solutions, but competition will be intense. The leaders have decided which technology to support – for example, AT&T has opted for LTE-M, Orange uses LoRa and LTE-M and Vodafone has gone for NB-IoT.Many other operators, especially smaller ones, have yet to make a firm commitment, but some challenger operators are planning to deploy different technologies to the market leaders. This article, based on our detailed report on approaches to LPWA, examines the options they face and the factors that will affect their decisions.

For the traditional mass-market smartphone opportunity, the technology upgrade path, through flavours of 2G, 3G and 4G, was clear. IoT is a new market and the old rules do not always apply. There are clear benefits for operators willing to take a risk on an alternative strategy from the leaders. This article examines the options they face and the factors that will affect their decisions, says Michele Mackenzie, principal analyst and Tom Rebbeck, research director, Enterprise & IoT at Analysys Mason.

Operators have three main approaches to LPWA technology choice

Mobile operators have three main options to consider when choosing an LPWA technology. They are as follows.

Follow the leader: The challenger operator chooses the same technology as the market leader. For example, if the leading operator is launching LTE-M then the challenger would do the same.
Choose an alternative to the leader: The challenger operator chooses a different technology to that of the market leader. For example, if the leader chooses LTE-M then the challenger will deploy NB-IoT.
Wait and see: The challenger operator waits for a winning technology to emerge before committing.

With LPWA, challenger operators have an opportunity to differentiate. Figure 1 illustrates some of the technology choices that leading and challenger operators have made. There is currently no clear trend on the approach that challenger operators are taking; some follow the leader, others do not.

Figure 1: Selected operator/markets LPWA technology choices

Some of the advantages for challenger operators to deploy a different LPWA technology are as follows.

The alternative technology will be better suited to particular use cases. It is uncertain how large the differences between NB-IoT and LTE-M will be in terms of price and performance, but if NB-IoT does have clear price advantages or longer battery life than LTE-M, it will be more attractive for some applications such as metering. This could benefit T-Mobile USA. Moreover, challenger operators could benefit enormously if their chosen technology is used for a mass-market proposition. For example, if LTE-M is used by a future Apple Watch, KPN would be in a strong position in the Dutch market compared with its competitors, T-Mobile and Vodafone, which are focused on NB-IoT.
An alternative technology could open up the enterprise market. Most challenger operators have a limited presence in the enterprise market. An alternative technology with clearly differentiated performance could help open new enterprise opportunities.
It should reduce competition based purely on price. If all three/four operators offer the same network technology and coverage, strong price competition will be inevitable. Different technology […]

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Fujitsu Develops World’s Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication

Fujitsu Develops World's Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication

Fujitsu Develops World's Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication

Eliminates Need for Battery Replacement. On-site data can be directly transmitted to the cloud across several kilometers just by placing an 82x24x6 mm miniature sensor.

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. today announced development of the world’s smallest sensor that eliminates the need to replace batteries.

The new sensor supports Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) wireless transmission technology that can reach a broad area with low power.

As the spread of IoT systems gains momentum, expectations are rising for sensor devices that support LPWA technology, which can wirelessly transmit sensor information directly to the cloud. In order to create systems that employ this technology, there has been a demand for the development of easy-to-install miniature devices using solar cells to achieve both convenience and low cost, which dispense with the need to replace batteries.

Fujitsu Laboratories previously developed power control technology(1) that can operate a beacon with the power provided just by a solar cell. Conventionally, power output variation of solar cells due to temperature had been tolerated by enlarging the size of energy storage elements. Now, however, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed technology that achieves high power efficiency by controlling signal transmission timing based on the temperature variation measured by a temperature sensor, which makes it possible to reduce the required energy storage elements for signal transmission by half. This has enabled Fujitsu Laboratories to successfully miniaturize the device to a size of 82x24x6 mm, creating the world’s smallest sensor device supporting LPWA that does not need replacement batteries.

In a test of the sensor device using this technology, Fujitsu Laboratories confirmed that the collected temperature and humidity data can be transmitted to a Sigfox(2) base station over a distance of about 7 km. Since it is now possible to acquire measured data even from locations where it is difficult to secure power and install power cables just by placing these sensor devices, the maintenance-free deployment and management of IoT systems has become a reality, accelerating the process of on-site digitalization.

Development Background

The spread of IoT systems has progressed in recent years, and it is predicted that by 2020, several tens of billions of IoT devices will be connected to the cloud through networks. In IoT systems, information collected from multiple sensors installed in the field, need to be transmitted to and analyzed on the cloud, and LPWA has been gaining attention as a wireless technology that can directly transmit data to the cloud with low power consumption across a wide area. From a convenience and cost standpoint there are high hopes for miniaturization, which not only meets the LPWA standards, while utilizing solar cells that eliminate the need for replacement.

Issues

Fujitsu Laboratories has previously developed power control technology using miniature circuits that can transmit data over short distances wirelessly using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This technology realizes sensor devices that support BLE without the need to exchange batteries, providing power with solar cells, and reliably activating a wireless circuit by monitoring and adjusting the balance between power generation and consumption.

Sensor devices using this previous technology, however, could not support LPWA. That’s because the time required for transmission with LPWA is significantly longer than with BLE. LPWA transmits small amounts of data slowly in order to ensure signal quality over long distances. In effect, this means that a single transmission can require significant power usage of up to about 1,500 times of BLE.

About the Newly Developed Technology

Now, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed new power control technology to ensure transmission power while minimizing circuit size. This technology’s advantages are as follows.

1. Power control technology that permits power variations with temperature

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed power control technology that can control the timing of LPWA signal transmissions in real time, based on temperature data collected from a temperature sensor. With this technology signal transmissions are only carried out at the time when the activation voltage, which varies with temperature, is maximized in order to prevent it from falling below the minimum operational voltage for LPWA module. By using power efficiently in this way, it is possible to tolerate variation in power consumed by the wireless circuit or power generated by solar cells due to temperature. This eliminates the need for the excess energy storage elements that were previously necessary to respond to power fluctuations, enabling miniaturization of the sensor device with the smallest power storage elements required.

2. Power monitoring technology that reliably activates the temperature sensor

In order for the power control technology to operate reliably, the device must be able to continually and reliably activate the temperature sensor with a small amount of power. To resolve this challenge, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed power monitoring technology that analyzes voltage changes in power source, and accurately judges whether or not sufficient power has been stored to operate the temperature sensor. This technology can prevent unnecessary shutdowns of the temperature sensor by using the minimum amount of power based on the temperature.

Effects

This technology was implemented using Sigfox, an LPWA standard, creating the world’s smallest sensor device (82x24x6 mm) supporting LPWA communications without the need to replace batteries.

Fujitsu Laboratories verified that temperature and humidity data could be transmitted once every ten minutes, over seven days directly to a base station about 7 km away, in an environment with illumination of 4,000 lux. Fujitsu Laboratories also verified that the data could be visualized through the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5 IoT Platform, Fujitsu Limited’s IoT data utilization platform service, which has received Sigfox Ready Program for IoT PaaS certification as an IoT platform that connects to the Sigfox cloud.

This means that sensor data can easily be acquired in the cloud just by setting sensor devices, even in places where it is difficult to secure power or install power cables. This will enable maintenance-free installation and management of IoT systems, accelerating the process of digitalization in the field.

Future Plans

Fujitsu Laboratories will continue to conduct field trials aimed at the real-world use of these sensor devices, incorporating this technology into the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5 IoT Platform and Fujitsu Frontech Limited’s sensor solutions as connected devices, with the goal of commercialization in fiscal 2018. Furthermore, we will continue to develop technologies to miniaturize sensor devices.

Comment from Yoshihito Kurose, President, KYOCERA Communication Systems Co., Ltd. (KCCS):

“As the utilization of IoT is expected to continually increase, KCCS predicts that solutions utilizing the low power consumption feature of the Sigfox network will be developed in a variety of industries.”

“KCCS believes that Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.’s development of a sensor device, which does not require battery charging by way that device operation is enabled by a solar battery, will promote the use of Sigfox not only in Japan but around the world.”

“As the Sigfox Operator in Japan, KCCS is working with Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. and other partners to enable everything to be connected to the Sigfox network and is contributing to the creation of a safe and pleasant society.”

[1] Developed power control technology Fujitsu Develops Industry’s First Flexible IoT-Supporting Beacon That Needs No Battery Replacement (press release, March 25, 2015) http://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/2015/0325-02.html
[2] Sigfox A global IoT network using LPWA provided by Sigfox, a company established in France in 2009. KYOCERA Communication Systems Co., Ltd. is the sole network service provider in Japan.

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Senet Launches Global LPWA Virtual Network to Redefine IoT Connectivity and Service Delivery

Senet Launches Global LPWA Virtual Network to Redefine IoT Connectivity and Service Delivery

Senet Launches Global LPWA Virtual Network to Redefine IoT Connectivity and Service Delivery

New model of LoRaWAN connectivity allows businesses, solution providers and municipalities to unlock value and create opportunities across entire IoT ecosystem.

Senet announced today the launch of the Senet Low Power Wide Area Virtual Network (LVN™).

Moving beyond today’s antiquated network connectivity business models, the Senet LVN creates opportunities for network operators, solution providers, systems integrators, municipalities, and enterprise organizations to proactively contribute to the rapid build out of global IoT connectivity and immediately benefit from revenue share models based on their level of participation.

Senet’s LVN, Managed Network Services for IoT (MNSi™) and public network are powered by its proprietary Network Operating System, which is built on a common cloud-based services architecture. The Senet operating system provides extremely efficient, scalable and secure options to connect and manage low power, low-cost sensors at massive scale and simplifies historically complex operations related to application and device registration, message accounting and settlements.

Key features of the Senet LVN include:

  • A modern IoT architecture built on a highly scalable and secure cloud-based services
  • A host platform for Radio Access Network participants
  • Global device provisioning and device placement on any LVN Radio Access Network
  • Roaming between participating operators and other connectivity providers
  • Single billing supporting global device connectivity
  • Standardized global device activation and deployment processes
  • Comprehensive global network operations support
  • Revenue share models across provider classes
  • Access to the fastest continuously growing LoRa LPWAN network

“There is an IoT land grab taking place among network operators while, at the same time, solution providers are struggling to model a return on investment because of high network costs and limited coverage,” said Senet CEO Bruce Chatterley. “The Senet LVN addresses these challenges by modernizing IoT connectivity and offering ways for an entire ecosystem of participants to monetize their networks and services.”

“Our innovative LVN technology essentially creates a demand-based and incentive-based ‘Network Effect,’ or ‘Connectivity Marketplace’ to building out the Senet global IoT network. The next big transformation taking place in IoT relates to network connectivity, and the first to market have the most to gain.”

LVN Engagement Examples

Unique to the Senet Low Power Wide Area Virtual Network are business models designed for organizations to engage at various levels of participation and benefit from a revenue share model based on the role they play in the larger network ecosystem.

For example, a network operator (Cable, Wireless, Fiber, or CLEC) can augment their connectivity portfolio by deploying LoRaWAN gateways on their existing tower or building assets and extend their branded services well beyond their existing footprint to generate revenue from a broader customer base. Domestic and international LoRaWAN networks will interoperate through roaming, allowing connected devices to be placed on any operator network, supporting mobile IoT applications and making global connectivity a reality.

The Senet LVN also creates opportunities for new partnerships between municipalities and service providers. Municipalities, for example, are in a unique position to partner with utility companies to create the backbone for connected city-wide services. LoRaWAN gateways deployed on a combination of city and utility owned assets create a relationship that supports rapid network deployment, broad coverage and revenue sharing without any individual party incurring the brunt of the capital equipment expense. Senet then manages these network assets using its Network Operating System. Once deployed, any device from any application or solution provider that connects to these networks generates a new revenue stream for the municipality and/or utility. Embracing such an opportunity could mean a huge technological leap forward and lay the foundation for true smart and connected cities.

In addition, Senet provides an opportunity for thousands of global IoT application providers, system integrators and enterprises to register their LoRaWAN gateways on the LVN and generate revenue based on the number of qualified messages using their Radio Access Network. This model supports both production deployments and large market trials, allowing for participation in the Senet LVN at various levels of application rollout.

With this new approach to providing LoRaWAN network IoT coverage, Senet is enabling businesses to revolutionize their products and operations by delivering ubiquitous network connectivity wherever it is needed, when it is needed and at the lowest possible cost.

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Quectel Receives Industry’s First multimode LPWA Type Approval from Major U.S Operator

Quectel Receives Industry’s First multimode LPWA Type Approval from Verizon

Quectel Receives Industry’s First multimode LPWA Type Approval from Verizon

Quectel Wireless Solutions, a leading global supplier of Internet of Things (IoT) modules, today announced that its BG96 module is the first multimode LPWA module based on Qualcomm modem to receive official Type Approval (TA) from a major U.S. wireless network operator upon conclusion of comprehensive laboratory and field testing.

“The certification is a testament to Quectel’s commitment to delivering high quality and reliable services to our customers. Now customers using our 2G and 3G modules can accelerate their LTE Cat M1 deployment based on the BG96 modules,” said Patrick Qian, Quectel CEO.

BG96, designed for the global market, supports LTE Cat M1, NB-IoT and EGPRS. What’s more, GNSS (GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU, GALILEO and QZSS) is also supported, which will help customers with location requirement on the compact design and low device cost.

Developed based upon Qualcomm’s multimode LTE modem MDM9206, BG96 features ultra-low power consumption, as well as extended indoor coverage with a 15dB coverage enhancement compared with GSM. Besides, it offers a maximum data rate of 300kbps downlink and 375kbps uplink, and can be applied to vertical segments requesting medium and low data rates.

According to Patrick:

“Quectel BG96 modules along with the LTE Cat M1 network will bring new possibilities for IoT innovators to develop devices for markets requiring low cost, mobility and longer battery life, such as smart metering, tracker, sharing bicycle and emergency alarm panel.”

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Quectel Receives Industry’s First multimode LPWA Type Approval from Verizon

Quectel Receives Industry’s First multimode LPWA Type Approval from Verizon

Quectel Receives Industry’s First multimode LPWA Type Approval from Verizon

Quectel Wireless Solutions, a leading global supplier of Internet of Things (IoT) modules, today announced that its BG96 module is the first multimode LPWA module based on Qualcomm modem to receive official Type Approval (TA) from Verizon upon conclusion of comprehensive laboratory and field testing.

“The certification is a testament to Quectel’s commitment to delivering high quality and reliable services to our customers. Now customers using our 2G and 3G modules can accelerate their LTE Cat M1 deployment based on the BG96 modules,” said Patrick Qian, Quectel CEO.

BG96, designed for the global market, supports LTE Cat M1, NB-IoT and EGPRS. What’s more, GNSS (GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU, GALILEO and QZSS) is also supported, which will help customers with location requirement on the compact design and low device cost.

Developed based upon Qualcomm’s multimode LTE modem MDM9206, BG96 features ultra-low power consumption, as well as extended indoor coverage with a 15dB coverage enhancement compared with GSM. Besides, it offers a maximum data rate of 300kbps downlink and 375kbps uplink, and can be applied to vertical segments requesting medium and low data rates.

According to Patrick:

“Quectel BG96 modules along with Verizon’s LTE Cat M1 network will bring new possibilities for IoT innovators to develop devices for markets requiring low cost, mobility and longer battery life, such as smart metering, tracker, sharing bicycle and emergency alarm panel.”

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