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New Entrants Challenge Mobile Operators in Burgeoning Market
Low power wide area networks (LPWAN) which have low data rate are designed to support millions of devices that generate small volumes of data and require extended range and energy efficient networks. The LPWAN space is highly contested between proprietary solutions in licence-free spectrum and mobile operators' alternatives based on emerging long-term evolution (LTE) standards. Frost & Sullivan assesses the key growth opportunities in the LPWAN space and provides an analysis of the competitive environment and vertical market application areas.
- Low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technology will account for a significant share of Internet of Things (IoT) connections globally by 2020. This growth will occur at the expense of traditional cellular mobile, notably GPRS, the dominant carrier of M2M connections worldwide currently.
- From 2015 to 2018, the IoT market will be dominated by proprietary technologies that will meet the immediate requirements of being low-cost, ultra power-efficient, and long-range which currently mobile cellular cannot address cost-effectively.
- The mobile industry is responding to the LPWAN threat by directly investing in alternative technologies. It is also pressing for acceleration in the standardisation of LTE variants, such as Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT), which will form part of LTE Release , and Extended Coverage-GSM.
- Connectivity remains a low-value component of the M2M and IoT value chain on a per-connection basis. Profitability therefore depends on network service providers’ ability to drive volume deployments and deliver managed services and end-to-end solutions.
- Ultimately, LPWAN and ‘clean slate’ LTE variants will come under the broader umbrella of 5G. This framework will incorporate the best connectivity options to deliver seamless quality of experience to both machines and humans.
Connectivity Alternatives—Main Characteristics
Standardised, secure, and robust network solutions are required to address the multi-Billion devices that the IoT market has to support by 2020.
Cellular Operators–2G, 3G, 4G, and Emerging 5G
- Advancement in cellular technology over the past decade has been focused on increasing data rates and spectrum efficiency for consumer-centric applications.
- However, many IoT applications will generate data streams of very low rate and low value that are inefficient to carry over mobile cellular networks.
- 3GPP is standardising LTE–M/Cat 1 and Cat 0 to strengthen the ability of cellular networks to meet IoT demands cost effectively.
LPWAN-Low Power Wide Area Network
- Various network technologies designed to meet low power, low data rate IoT requirements – in the order of bytes or just a few KBs per second; transmission may be uni- or bi-directional.
- Networks designed for devices which have long sleep cycles and run on batteries for many years.
- Designed for latency-tolerant applications and deployment in licence-free/light ISM bands.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee
- These provide wireless local area network with short range coverage, often in-building.
- Wi-Fi provides data rates of up to 7Gbps using 802.11ad standard. Wi-Fi 802.11ah is designed for low-power long-range requirement.
- Typically, devices would have to be configured into the network manually from each use case, for Wi-Fi mesh operation for example.
- Fixed and steerable beams provide coverage in remote regions beyond terrestrial wireless coverage, including the oceans.
- Despite price reductions in recent years, satellite is still relatively high cost and not typically suited to always-on applications.
- Satellite backhaul in conjunction with local
LPWAN networks is potentially a valuable combination for remote regions lacking mobile networks and power grids.
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