One of the great challenges presented by the Internet of Things (IoT) is linking the billions and potentially trillions of sensors and endpoints together. (If trillions of devices seems like a stretch, consider that implementations include such things as tracking individual cows as their herds migrate.)
In addition to sheer numbers, the IoT must go everywhere. This includes the gaps between coverage in rural areas, unsettled areas, and over the seven oceans (and assorted seas, rivers and lakes) of the world.
A key platform for filling this tall order is the development of low-power long-range wide-area networks (LoRAWANs). We saw two pieces of news this week on the this front.
Today, Multi-Tech Systems said that its MultiConnect mDot LoRaWAN device, which it says is “915 MHz-ready,” was certified by the LoRa Alliance. The certification was through the LoRaWAN North American 915 MHz process conducted at the AT4 Wireless laboratory in Malaga, Spain. The bottom line is that this element is now available to vendors for inclusion in LoRaWAN platforms in Europe and North America.
A less technical announcement was made yesterday by Inmarsat, which said that its LoRaWAN, which was developed in partnership with Actility, is serving customers. The network, the press release says, is already in use in asset tracking, agribusiness and oil and gas applications.
Inmarsat says that the network, which uses Actility’s ThinkPark low-power wide area (LPWA) platform, is the first that can be used anywhere in the world. Actility is now a member of Inmarsat’s Certified Applications Provider Programme, the press release says.
Inmarsat is not the only company developing LoRaWAN networks. The LoRa Alliance defines it as a low-power WAN that supports inexpensive, mobile, secure and bidirectional communications for the IoT, machine-to-machine (M2), smart city and industrial applications. It is, the alliance says, optimized to support multiple millions of devices. It offers “redundant operation, geolocation, low-cost, and low-power.” In some cases, devices can run by harvesting energy from their environment, making batteries unnecessary.
The value of the IoT will rise in proportion to the size of its footprint. If it can truly circle the globe, and leave no dead spots, its chances increase that it becomes the revolutionary technology its proponents predict. LoRaWANs will play a key role in making that possible.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.