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LPWA tech will enable millions of connections

Unlicensed LPWA IoT network technologies have given IoT operators a significant cost advantage

Hatler: "Industrial and smart cities are prime targets for IoT developers"
Hatler: "Industrial and smart cities are prime targets for IoT developers"

Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks will connect 250 million devices in the smart cities and industrial, energy/utilities sectors by 2023, new research predicts.


The growth will be enabled by technologies such as Sigfox, LoRa, LTE-M and NB-IoT according to Internet of Things (IoT) research firm ON World.


ON World’s “Smart Cities LPWA Set” includes three reports on the LPWA market opportunities, threats and competitive landscape for smart cities, transportation and smart lighting.


Smart city LPWA connected devices will increase by more than 12 times 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 $32bn, the research firm forecasts.


LPWA networks are displacing cellular 2G/3G/4G and RF mesh sensor networks for water metering and streetlight monitoring. In addition, they are enabling new IoT solutions for parking, waste management, smart water networks, geotechnical monitoring, pollution monitoring and bike-sharing.


Mobile network operators are seizing the smart city opportunity by adopting the NB-IoT protocol and leveraging their enormous LTE ecosystems. However, ON World notes NB-IoT is not suitable for many mobile sensing applications and will require new cell tower installations for many operators.


“Rapid rollout of LPWA networks and accelerating global economies have created growing IoT developer opportunities,” says Mareca Hatler, research director, ON World.


“Industrial and smart cities are prime targets for IoT developers with hundreds of LPWA applications for connecting stranded assets, improving city IoT services and increasing visibility along the supply chain.”


Meanwhile, ON World’s recently published report focuses on two landscapes:


Industrial, logistics and agriculture

In addition to enabling new markets and services, LPWA technologies are disrupting industrial IoT with multi-year battery lifetimes and multi-mile sensors. Unlicensed LPWA networks using Sigfox, RPMA and LoRaWAN are serving a variety of applications for industrial automation including oil and gas exploration and production, pipelines, logistics and agriculture. In addition, licensed LTE-M networks are gearing up to capture a large slice of the Industrial IoT market with devices that have 5+ battery lifetime, 100 millisecond latency levels and 1 Mbps data rates.


Multi-radio modules are creating new opportunities for industrial IoT developers. A growing trend is multi-radio modules that include both a LPWA radio such as LoRa or Sigfox as well as short-range radios such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and 802.15.4. Silicon Labs with Hager Group recently announced a System-on-Chip (SoC) with BLE and Sigfox in one single RF unit.


In 2025, the report expects industrial connected wireless sensing, tracking and control devices to reach half a billion up from 35 million in 2016. LPWA technologies will experience the fastest growth and will make up one in four of the connections by this time.


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