Lamarr really was an inventor of spread spectrumPromised: 10 year battery life;, very low power; 15 km reach; 50-meter ground penetration; not stopped by seven walls; doesn't need a spectrum allocation. It's also darned cheap. The performance is a dismal 0.3 kbps to 50 kbps but it still sounds impossible.
Little chipmaker Semtech seemed to be tilting at windmills until Bouygues turned on Grenoble and Paris. Bouygues plans 20 cities in France by the end of this year. France Telecom responded they will cover "the entire nation" by the end of next year. Now Tata, a $100B conglomerate, announced they will serve 400M people in India's cities. Swisscom and KPN have announcements.
These carriers have strong engineering teams that tested intensely before they ordered.
This is a crowded field. Brian Moyer has a helpful comparison of 10 different Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks. He has a chart of 10 features for each standard, with several caveats. There's no independent testing, no standard ways to measure, and many claims "my competitor is lying." Moyer jokes that all ten claim they are best in both energy and cost.
Stephen Lawson at Computerworld has multiple articles, including a prediction "they will rumble at CES Las Vegas" in January. The LTE and WiFi carriers want IoT reveue but today's LTE (and WiFi) are totally inappropriate for most IoT devices. Both are organized for bands of megabits and need too much power for decent battery life. Adrian Stephens tells me the 802.11 committee has a solution coming for WiFi; 3GPP is working on one for LTE.
Will LoRa deliver? It presumably won't deliver 50 kbps continuously for ten years without a battery the size of the one in your car. IoT is assumed to only need to occasionally send small data packets. A smart meter might only send a few bytes every five minutes. Your fire alarm probably won't go off that often. IoT devices are expected to be off more than they are on. The (many) ten year predictions are likely based on a very limited duty cycle. The receivers are probably not too far away or behind many walls. Politicians probably are more homest than the advocates here.
LoRa uses spread spectrum, a signal spread over many frequencies at very low power. It sounds like an urban myth, but Hedy Lamarr and George Anthiel really did patent spread spectrum in 1844. The army uses spread spectrum for reliable communications on the battlefield. It generally has good reach and obstacle penetration. Presumably, the 15 km reach and the 50 meter penetration were measured in favorable conditions. Your results are likely less.
Verizon might not see the huge IoT windfall they recently promised Wall Street.
The primary information on LoRa comes from the chipmaker, Semtech. Here, here, here, There's an introduction that isn't as helpful as it could be. I have some of the press releases below.
Hat tip to Rethink for pointing me to this story.
Tata Communications debuts ultra-low power connectivity solution to pave the way for the Internet of Things in India
Successful field trials establish a new network for connected devices in key cities
November 3, 2015
Tata Communications, a leading provider of A New World of Communications™, today announces that it has successfully conducted trials of new Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN), based on LoRaTM technology for connected devices and cutting edge Internet of Things (IoT) applications across Mumbai and Delhi. These trials will bolster successful deployment of IoT applications in India, as Gartner forecasts that there will be 4.9 billion connected things globally in 2015, reaching 25 billion by 2020 - more than three times the number of people on earth today.
Tata Communications plans to roll out India’s first LoRaTM network across the country, with full coverage starting in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. LoRaTM is a wireless communication technology dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) / Machine to Machine (M2M) communications network. The new network is a super low-power, secure, bi-directional, communication solution, which any organisation can use to connect objects and innovative applications simply and energy efficiently, overcoming high power consumption challenges with existing wireless solutions. The first phase targets to cover 400 million people across Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 cities.
In addition to ultra-low power consumption, which allows the battery in the end device to last for more than a decade without replacement, Tata Communications’ LPWAN wireless network has unprecedented reach, enabling communications in deep water and up to 50 metres underground. This makes it suitable for use in metro stations and car parks. The signal of the network is extremely strong, cutting through up to seven walls inside buildings. It is also suitable for rural areas due to its 15km range. Compared with 4G, WiFi, ZigBee or Bluetooth solutions, the LPWAN network is also more cost-effective for organisations to deploy.
Tri Pham, Chief Strategy Officer, Tata Communications, says, “Tata Communications is dedicated to enabling cutting-edge, innovative communication solutions for the digital economy. Given our global network leadership, we have a bird’s eye view on how connected applications are permeating all aspects of people’s lives. We see a massive need for a new smart network to enable intelligent solutions for a variety of M2M applications to facilitate a simpler and smarter way of life and at a lower cost of ownership. These trials are just the beginning; we intend to deploy this network across India and invite customers with IoT projects to work with us to test it, end-to-end.”
As technology evolves into an intrinsic part of our everyday life - from predictive waste management to precision farming and geo-fencing to smart electricity meters - the IoT industry is predicted to grow exponentially, and India is seen as a high-growth potential market. Industries, citizens and governments alike become key stakeholders. Tata Communications’ LPWAN network, based on LoRa™ technology, is simple for organisations to deploy, as it is pre-configured with plug-and play connectivity for different industries, including manufacturing and agriculture.
“We are excited that Tata Communications has decided to deploy a LoRaWAN carrier-grade LPWAN solution across India,” said Mohan Maheswaran, CEO of Semtech, the technology partner. “Tata Communications is a global leader in network and communication solutions and we are pleased to be an integral part of this new initiative. It is also a matter of great pride that after extensive testing of all available LPWAN technologies, Tata Communications chose to deploy LoRa technology in its endeavour to create and enable a brand new network for connected devices.”
Tata Communications delivers world-class connectivity backed by the company’s leading global fibre network. Today, over 24% of the world’s Internet routes travel over Tata Communications’ network and the company is the only Tier-1 provider that is in the top five by routes in five continents.
Semtech LoRa®-based Internet of Things Wide-Area Network to Deploy with Telecom Operator Orange
Low-power, wide-area network using LoRa® RF technology targets Smart City applications
Camarillo, California - October 07, 2015
Semtech Corporation (Nasdaq: SMTC), a leading supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, today announced Orange, one of the largest mobile network operators (MNO) in the world, selected its LoRa® RF technology for a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) scheduled to deploy in the first quarter of 2016. Orange will use the LoRa LPWAN to connect low power sensors to mainly “smart city” applications across France.
Orange is one of the largest operators in Europe, Middle East and Africa, operating cellular networks in 29 countries and is a major actor in machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The company will use its LoRa IoT network to connect more IoT applications and complement its existing success in cellular M2M. The two-way LoRa wireless solution offers unprecedented range and low-power connectivity to target sensor applications that need long battery lifetime and a lower price point than what can be achieved today with cellular communications.
After pilot testing the long range, wide-area network (LoRaWAN) in Grenoble, France, with more than 30 partners, Orange ultimately decided to implement the technology nationwide, as well as adopt the LoRaWAN standard, which promotes seamless interoperability between sensors and network gateways to enable IoT applications. To date, Orange is the largest MNO adopter of the LoRaWAN standard. This is a significant step for the IoT industry because large, nationwide deployments by MNOs lower the barriers of entry for IoT developers and solutions providers by reducing the cost of connectivity.
Semtech is a founding member of the LoRa Alliance, which is a fast-growing ecosystem of partners that aims to standardize LoRaWAN globally and provide an open platform to scale IoT, M2M and smart city applications. A complete ecosystem of sensors, modules and system solutions with the LoRaWAN communication protocol is already developed to ensure fast return on investment (ROI) of LPWAN network deployments.
“Semtech has a built a very strong platform for low-power sensors to wirelessly connect to wide-area networks. Fueled by Semtech LoRa technology, network operators allow consumers and businesses everywhere to offer large scale, Internet-based services including asset tracking, metering, security, home automation, intelligent buildings and smart cities,” said Marc Pegulu, Vice President and General Manager of Semtech’s Wireless, Sensing and Timing Product Group.
“Semtech is committed to delivering long range wireless platforms using open standards to foster global adoption of LoRa-based networks,” said Mohan Maheswaran, Semtech’s CEO. “We are excited Orange has chosen to deploy a low-power, wide-area network based on our technology across France. This marks a significant milestone for Semtech as we move toward our goal of enabling IoT applications worldwide through standardization of LoRaWAN and the ecosystem of the LoRa Alliance.”
Key Features of LoRa RF Technology:
- Long Range: A single LoRa base station enables deep penetration capability for dense urban environments and indoor coverage, while also providing the ability to connect to sensors more than 15-30 miles away in rural areas.
- Low Cost: LoRa reduces both upfront infrastructure investments and operating costs, as well as end-node sensor costs.
- Standardized: LoRaWAN ensures interoperability among applications, IoT solution providers and telecom operators to speed adoption and deployment.
- Low Power: The LoRaWAN protocol was developed specifically for low power and enables unprecedented multi-year battery lifetime.