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Thursday, September 21, 2017

LPWAN technologies open up IoT opportunities

By Nick Flaherty

Mobile operators have a significant opportunity to offer low power wide area systems for the Internet of Things, but competition will be intense, says Analysys Mason in a new report.

The report gives an insight into the technology being used, with AT&T using LTE-M, Orange using LoRa and LTE-M and Vodafone using NB-IoT. However, smaller operators have an opportunity in using different technologies.

The report gives a good view of selected operator LPWAN technology choices:

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, says the report.

An alternative technology could open up the enterprise market where most challenger operators have a limited presence.

However, the report warns that operators also need to consider the consequences of being late to market if they adopt a wait-and-see approach. The appeal of waiting is clear: the existing enterprise base is limited and NB-IoT or LTE-M are relatively quick to deploy. However, operators with ambitions to play a role in IoT risk foregoing a valuable learning experience in the early LPWA market and the opportunity to capture some of the early demand. Bouygues Telecom, KPN and Swisscom all gained valuable expertise by entering the market early with LoRa, which should help them when developing 3GPP IoT networks say the analysts.

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