Source: Pixabay

LPWANs 2020: Choices, challenges, and breakthroughs on tap for IT managers.

Enterprise IT managers can expect to see a more robust series of new capabilities, choices, and lower prices for LPWANs, which companies have used to monitor and manage valuable assets over long distances.

The tsunami of 5G headlines and hype in 2019 has overshadowed companies’ use of the low-speed, low-cost, long-life networks that use inexpensive sensors and radios.

Early on

Businesses have used LPWANs to connect fixed and far-flung resources. Attached units regularly send a small amount of data over low-speed wireless connections using sub- $10 radio units to a central location for monitoring and management. Interest in LPWAN services spans vertical industries. Others include oil and gas, utilities, healthcare, logistics, transportation, and manufacturing.

A series of options have taken root, many based on different technologies. Early offerings emerged outside the U.S. But most U.S. cellular operators deliver LPWAN services in the last few years.

Defining LPWAN

LPWAN has been generically as an umbrella term to refer to all low-bandwidth, low-data rate, and low-cost networks that handle the above-mentioned tasks. But under this heading, however, are numerous technology approaches that are quite dissimilar, falling into two categories. The first is called LPWA and contains proprietary technologies that don’t use cellular connectivity and work in unlicensed frequencies. They include LoRa, a radio modulation technique used with the LoRaWAN protocol, and Sigfox, a company whose products use a proprietary protocol.

More recently, options in a second category have emerged. They use cellular connectivity in licensed frequencies and include Narrow Band -Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and LTE Cat M offerings.

Reviewing 2019 progress

At the close of last year, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile had launched what I call LPWAN services in the U.S. These offering target enterprises an alternative to the DIY option and can include the option of renting monthly the radio and battery devices that transmit remote data to a central location.

Read more.