Why is LoRaWAN better than Sigfox, NB-IoT, LTE-M? LoRaWAN provider Senet counts the ways
Why is LoRaWAN better than Sigfox, NB-IoT, and LTE-M? It is not a query based on a statement of fact, to be clear; just a loose question, asked here of a partisan subject (whose bias is reflected in the enquiry), in the form of US LoRaWAN provider Senet.
But the LoRaWAN community appears buoyant, and Senet has been busy of late, with deals to integrate LoRaWAN connectivity with LoRa sensors from US equipment vendor Radio Bridge and smart cities solutions from Spanish IoT firm Wellness Telecom. It is also bundling LoRaWAN with IoT firm InfiSense platform for industrial, real estate, retail and agriculture markets.
A balanced account, taking the views from other sides, is presented in a new report from Enterprise IoT Insights on low-power wide-area (LPWA) conectivity in the internet of things (IoT), which asks ‘who is winning what?’, and concludes, actually, that each of the four perceived heavyweights in the LPWA ring is boxing its own fight.
Bruce Chatterley, chief executive at Senet, is involved in the report, and pulls some power punches along the way. But not all of his comments made the final cut, and we present a one-sided flurry of jabs here – just because fighting talk makes good reading, and Chatterley has real authority in the space, as the head of a business that claims to have LoRaWAN infrastructure in no fewer than 80 countries.
He puts the discussion in context. IHS Markit projects annual shipments of LPWA modules will grow 89.3 per cent from 2016 to 2021, he observes. But LoRaWAN growth will outpace the market, just, with 92.3 per cent growth in the period, according to IHS, and its community is buzzing – 113 LoRaWAN networks in 55 countries, pulled together via an industry alliance of 500-odd members, taking advantage of well-priced, readily-available devices.
That is the line from the LoRaWAN set, including Chatterley, along with repeated reference to the technology’s open standard and technical specifications, which lend it to a broader set iof use cases.
Chatterley comments: “LPWA networks represent 55 per cent of the IoT connectivity market. Their characteristics are well known. There have been several competing technologies, historically. But proprietary solutions are declining in terms of market share, and LoRaWAN and NB-IoT are positioned best to thrive.”
Again, a balanced view, with voices from the Sigfox and cellular IoT communities, is presented in the new report from Enterprise IoT Insights (cover image below). But, for the record, here is Chatterley, in space to take free shots, on why he thinks LoRaWAN is better for IoT connectivity.
What are the strengths of LoRaWAN versus Sigfox?
“Sigfox is a competing LPWA offering, with inferior capabilities and market availability due to its proprietary technology and closed ecosystem. LoRaWAN has advantages over proprietary technologies like Sigfox, which also lack critical capabilities like mobility and bi-directional communications.
“LoRaWAN is best for the broadest number of IoT applications based on its open standard, open ecosystem, and technical features. Further, the LoRaWAN ecosystem has seen dramatic year-over-year reductions in cost and has global availability – including Senet’s network in 80 countries.
“Key LoRaWAN benefits include wide global coverage, an open ecosystem and standards, availability of many certified end devices, support for fixed, nomadic and mobile devices, didirectional communications, geolocation services, firmware over-the-air ipdates, and built-in security.”
What are the strengths of LoRaWAN versus NB-IoT?
“While LoRaWAN is the best choice for the widest number of IoT applications based on its open standard and ecosystem, and its technical feature set, cellular IoT technologies like NB-IoT have a place in the IoT ecosystem for applications that require higher bandwidth and can support the higher deployment and application costs.
“But LoRaWAN has the largest ecosystem, while cellular operators are having trouble finding NB-IoT devices in volume. LoRa sensors, by contrast, are available at scale and low cost. The battery life of LoRa devices lasts for over 10 years, while NB-IoT’s is a ‘chatty’ protocol which depletes the battery quickly. Additionally, LoRa has a rich security model based on end-to-end encryption, where NB-IoT has a hop-by-hop encryption that is less secure.
“LoRaWAN and NB-IoT will compete and complement each other, with customers considering the total cost of ownership, network coverage and global access, power consumption and bandwidth requirements. Today, LoRaWAN has a clear advantage over NB-IoT, with its mature vendor ecosystem, certified IoT devices, and comprehensive solutions availability.”
What are the strengths of LoRaWAN versus LTE-M?
“LoRaWAN offers similar advantages over all cellular technologies including NB-IoT (as noted above) and LTE-M. Like NB-IoT, LTE-M offers higher data rates which is important for data-rich use-cases, but at a higher cost and with critical impacts such as shorter end device battery life.
“In addition, LTE is primarily a US technology which limits geographic coverage and it carries restrictive licensing requirements. We’re likely to see major US service providers promoting LTE-M since they’ve already invested billions in LTE technology, but customer demand is proving LoRaWAN a superior and more flexible technology.”