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EMEA: Semtech and KPN taking LoRa to the IoT market

Solutions to power the IoT

RCR Wireless News covered the recent announcement of the LoRa Alliance and resulting go-to-market activities of IBM Research and Semtech. After meeting with Semtech and KPN, there is more to the story now than just the Alliance discussion.

Semtech, a supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductor products, has developed a proprietary long-range solution – a wireless technology that specifically enables low data rate communications over long distances for sensors and actuators to enable machine-to-machine and “Internet of Things” applications. According to Semtech, LoRa uses far less power and reaches much farther than cellular technologies. With its higher capacity, battery life is also extended.  Semtech said it views the IoT market in three categories:

  1. Communicating devices, which include smartphones, PCs, TVs and tablets. These devices send a large amount of data but only require that data to travel a short distance as the transfer is usually over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
  2. Cellular M2M is the category in which the connected car will fit. While capable of transmitting large amounts of data, these devices are neither battery life nor cost sensitive, and the cellular network fills the bill for connectivity.
  3. Internet of Objects, which includes, for example, sensors, bikes and trash collection. These items might be outdoors, so they require a long battery life as there may be no local power source, and need to potentially send their data over a long range. This is where LoRa fits, but not when high data rates are required.

The LoRa Alliance was driven by network operators to ensure that products coming to market would work together not only across the different devices themselves but across different countries and operators. To date, the majority of interest has been from smaller network operators that want to quickly move into this and emerging markets with problems such as electricity supply offload.

The solution can work with both private and public networks to support multitenant functionality. Security operates at both the network and application layers and provides for encrypted transport from the device to a dedicated server. LoRa NetworkYou might be wondering how real all of this is or if it’s still a concept at this point, but there are announced deployments underway. KPN has announced a deployment of LoRa for 2015 with the goal of nationwide coverage based on customer demand. The vendor selection is still ongoing, but the build-out will begin in May, with initial rollout targeted for July.

The business model for the complete solution still needs to be finalized. The key factors are to not be competitive with other solutions providers that would be supported by their platform. So, at least initially, the strategy is to provide an enabling platform. KPN has been in the M2M industry for five years and is looking to expand its options with the LoRa technology.

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Claudia Bacco, Managing Director – EMEA for RCR Wireless News, has spent her entire career in telecom, IT and security. Having experience as an operator, software and hardware vendor and as a well-known industry analyst, she has many opinions on the market. She’ll be sharing those opinions along with ongoing trend analysis for RCR Wireless News.

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