‘No future Elon Musks in IoT’, ‘no future in IoT without LoRaWAN’ – team LoRa plots next moves
This week, 1,500 business types from every-sized enterprise in the burgeoning IoT space will descend on Amsterdam in The Netherlands to chat LoRaWAN, the low-power wide-area (LPWA) networking technology that saw 60 per cent growth last year.
The occasion is The Things Conference (January 31 – February 1), an annual LoRaWAN summit put on by The Things Network (TTN), the Amsterdam based group fosterning LoRaWAN deployments globally.
Speakers at the event include the likes of Siemens, TE Connectivity, Bosch, Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn, WeWork, and Microchip. Semtech, the Californian chip-maker that owns and licenses the LoRa technology, and the LoRa Alliance, which organises the industry around it, will also be present, of course.
Wienke Giezeman is chief executive and co-founder of TTN. The LoRaWAN movement, as discussed before, has something of the do-it-yourself ethos of punk music in the late 1970s, and Giezeman’s TTN is one of its leaders, offering a simplified set of IoT connectivity solutions and developer tools, and a stripped down message that says, to paraphrase the original punk missive, ‘Here are three chords, go connect stuff’.
But star-making was never easy, as Giezeman attests, even in the new pop discipline of tech. Here, in interview with Enterprise IoT Insights, Giezeman says, at once, that LoRaWAN is essential to the future of IoT, and yet the market is complicated and money-making is hard. Which is what the industry will plot to put right in Amsterdam this week.
– What is the big message from the show?
Collaborate! Hardware is hard and therefore IoT is hard. You will only survive as a business when you focus on what you are good at and partner with others to provide end to end solutions. We believe the time of closed alliances where the integrators and product builders are limited in their choice is over.
– What will the talk be behind the scenes, on the show floor, and in meeting rooms?
The big elephant in the room is that few parties are making good money in this industry in a scalable way, [and] yet the interest and traction for the technology is soaring. Many independent researches show 100 per cent year-on-year growth. LoRaWAN is one of the first IoT technologies to climb out of the trough of disillusionment. There is not conceivable future for IoT without LoRaWAN.
– We talked before about the fragmentation of the IoT market. Has there been progress in the last six months?
This is a given. And this is also why approaching this market from a traditional cloud investment paradigm will get you in trouble. If you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, don’t go in to IoT – you will find a hard time as a starting company to really scale.
– Has the technical complexity for developers in the IoT / LoRaWAN market eased?
We are working on that. The history of IT shows us we have made technology accessible every time by making it more easy or adding an abstraction layer. Think of MSDOS for the PC, or the App Store for the iPhone, or Kubernetes for cloud – with each, we saw growth after [doing] that. We will do a series of announcements along the lines of that vision. Making it easier and taking away complexity of the technology letting the developer focus on the business value their application brings.
– Has the geographical complexity eased in terms of standards?
This is a given as well. Using LoRaWAN across regions requires different hardware. The hardware difference luckily is limited but it brings scalability challenges.
– LoRaWAN continues to have good momentum, it seems, with strong growth in 2018. What should we expect in 2019?
We are biased of course. But I would say LoRaWAN is here to stay. If you compare this traction to any other RF technology in history it is unprecedented. The year on year growth is at 100 per cent and I believe that in the next 24 months this exponential curve will only get steeper.
– What are the challenges and strategic goals for the Things Network in 2019?
I think in 2019 we have figured out the technology. You can build it. Deploying it in a cost effective way is yet something else. Imagine installing smart parking sensors. This is a very cumbersome process. And we see now that POCs fail not so much because of the technology but because of the complexity of deployment. We believe the companies that can solve that have a good chance. With The Things Industries we are working on these processes and taking away the hassle that comes with deployments.
– What are the challenges and strategic goals for the LoRa community in 2019?
The LoRa Alliance is strong alliance because of the diversity. There are all kinds of members. For silicon providers to network providers and applications builders. It is a joy to work with a large group of companies on the same standard. Even though that some parties are competing, the value of the commons, the standard has the highest priority. Don’t get me wrong. Of course there is politics but I have not seen that standing in the way of good ideas or progress.