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140 million LPWA smart city devices by 2022

Almost half of companies involved with LPWA technologies are targeting smart city applications such as parking and streetlight monitoring

LPWA networks continue to displace existing outdoor networking technologies
LPWA networks continue to displace existing outdoor networking technologies

Low power wide area (LPWA) networking technologies such as Sigfox, LoRa, LTE-M and NB-IoT will connect hundreds of millions of smart city sensing devices to low cost multi-kilometre cloud connected networks by 2022, according to Internet of Things (IoT) research firm ON World.


“Intensifying competition among network operators and IoT platform providers combined with accelerating roll-outs of LPWA networks has created a dynamic landscape for smart city solutions,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director. “Cities and their residents are the beneficiaries of today’s affordable solutions for smarter energy, water, transportation, public safety and environmental controls.”


LPWA networks continue to displace existing outdoor networking technologies for metering and streetlight monitoring, but they are also disrupting IoT solutions for parking, waste management, smart water networks, geotechnical monitoring, pollution monitoring and bike-sharing.


Unlicensed LPWA IoT network technologies like LoRa and Sigfox have given IoT operators such as Comcast, Senet, Thinxtra and UnaBiz a significant cost advantage. However, LTE-M and NB-IoT networks are rolling out worldwide by mobile LTE operators, many of which also provide LoRaWAN as an alternative for either public or private network use.


The recently released LoRaWAN 1.1 specification provides several enhancements for network operators targeting smart cities including support for passive and active roaming, class B devices as well as security enhancements.


Still, the largest opportunity is LTE networks with its 3GPP’s Release 13 announced last June and NB-IoT with a rapidly growing ecosystem. The inevitability of NB-IoT is not a given as its not suitable for mobile sensing applications, requires new tower installations and has interoperability issues.


There is a total potential of 2.6 billion connected wireless IoT devices for smart cities and LPWA is suited for 3 in 5 of the smart city IoT connections. ON World’s analysis of over 100 companies involved with LPWA technologies found that almost half are targeting smart city applications such as parking, waste management and streetlight monitoring and 38 per cent are targeting metering.


Smart city LPWA connected devices will increase by 12X over the next five years when there will be 141 million connections worldwide. Cumulative revenues from LPWA enabled equipment and associated services over this period will reach $32 billion.


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