Global IoT community set for jamboree LoRaWAN event in Paris (Sponsored)
The LoRa Alliance expects over 2,000 delegates in Paris next week (July 6-7) for the LoRaWAN World Expo, billed as its first global jamboree event for the LoRaWAN community, and the wider IoT market beyond. It is set to be, by some margin, the biggest show the alliance has ever put on. It comes, of course, after an enforced two-year break for international travel and in-person functions, and a two-year surge for IoT-based tracking and tracing solutions.
Donna Moore, chair of the LoRa Alliance, comments: “We’ve never done an event like this. We’ve run three-day events in the past, but they have been smaller, more regional affairs, with one day reserved just for non-members. This is different. It is a can’t-miss event for anyone in the business of IoT – who wants to learn how to develop and deploy LoRaWAN and make a business of IoT, and, importantly, to collaborate to drive the sector forward. That is the key.”
So what has changed? Why go big? Why now? “Because of where we are in the market,” responds Moore, “in terms of the number of deployments, the scale of deployments, the availability of devices, the strength of the ecosystem. I mean, LoRaWAN is very clearly, now, the leading LPWA technology in the market. We felt like this three years ago, but it is a different ball game now – and our position is even stronger. The growth has been head-spinning.”
The LoRa Alliance has just issued a statement to say the number of public LoRaWAN networks has grown by 66 percent globally over the past three years. Historic growth came largely from public networks managed as side-projects by traditional cellular mobile network operators (MNOs). Much of the recent growth, it said, has been enabled by “non-MNOs” building “critical dedicated infrastructure” for national and international IoT cases.
The recent decision by France-based Objenious, owned by Bouygues Telecom, to shut down its public LoRaWAN network has been easily absorbed, the message goes. “The fact Objenious is moving out is a sign of a healthy and developing ecosystem, actually,” comments Moore. “We still need big mobile network operators, but the market has also evolved, and other new operators are coming in.”
These new-style LoRaWAN MNOs, running public infrastructure, will be present in Paris, on the show floor and in the conference rooms. Alliance members like Actility, American Tower, Everynet, Senet, and SenRa are, separately and together, building a LoRaWAN-based low-power wide-area (LPWA) IoT network with roaming for international tracking cases in 25 markets, and rising, and smart integrations with new satellite and community networks as well.
Satellite-based IoT connectivity and community-based IoT networks are real talking points for LoRaWAN. The former provide a useful, sometimes critical, network extension for remote tracking and monitoring cases. “One hundred percent, satellite connectivity is driving forward those IoT roaming cases,” reflects Moore. The latter, popularised by Helium particularly, offer disruptive models for crowd-sourced, crypto-stimulated infrastructure building – mostly to stand-up home-to-yard-to-community IoT cases, plus useful passing traffic from IoT tracking.
In Paris, Actility et al will host a panel to discuss the diversity of network and business models available with LoRaWAN, and satellite companies Eutelsat, EchoStar, and Lacuna Space will discuss their LoRaWAN satellite extensions with Semtech in another session – including about their novel support for device-to-satellite comms with the new long-range frequency-hopping spread spectrum (LR-FHSS) provision in the standard.
These are a couple of highlights, notes Moore; she also references key sessions around water conservation, utilities monitoring, asset tracking, ESG measures, radio convergence, environmental sustainability, plus specialist training workshops and masterclasses. The LoRaWAN universe is well represented; the likes of AWS, Helium Foundation, Kore Wireless, Microsoft, MultiTech, NNNCo, ST Micro, and the Wireless Broadband Alliance are also speaking.
The full agenda is available here, and also features use cases and proof points from enterprise users, often deploying LoRaWAN in private networks. The LoRa Alliance claims “explosive growth” for private network deployments, also. “Deployments are in the millions, for sure – although many of those cases remain confidential,” says Moore. So is LoRaWAN now delivering ‘massive’-scale deals in a consistent fashion?
She responds: “Yes. We have pages of those types of million-figure deployments. But it also depends on the use case, massive scale can also relate to other metrics like message volume, network availability, or number of solutions deployed. Because you can connect those kinds of figures for water and gas monitoring, but NNNCo, for example, has just signed a deal for 70,000 street lights in Montevideo, Uruguay, which is the largest of its kind. That is an at-scale use case, the largest street light project ever deployed.”
A focus of the show in Paris, where the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) were implemented in a global accord in 2016, is environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures. Moore says environmental sustainability has been a driver for LoRaWAN, always, but that the combination of environmental and healthcare tracking in the Covid era, as well as the rising urgency around carbon emissions, has brought further focus to the sector.
“These things have pushed LoRaWAN through the roof. The focus three years ago was on sustainable IoT. But it has shifted to another level, as we have ROI proof-cases in all of these emerging areas,” she says. And timing is everything, as always; in the case of LoRaWAN, it might be argued the challenges faced by rival LPWA technologies, either struggling to stay afloat or struggling to catch a sail, bring LoRaWAN’s variety and success into relief.
Moore comments: “Because ours is an open and flexible technology, we have developed with public networks, then private networks, then satellite networks, then community networks. So we just keep evolving – which is a big difference. Plus, LoRaWAN plays nicely with other technologies – with 5G, Wi-Fi, BLE, RFID, DLMS, Wireless M-Bus, OMS. The market is so big and our strengths are the sweet spot of IoT.”