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IoT LPWANs will give cellular a run for its money

radio tower

via Flickr from U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos (no copyright)

  • LPWANs to have major IoT impact
  • 345 million connections by 2020
  • will complement conventional cellular M2M
  • But watch out for over-optimism

So far cellular has been pretty much the only player in M2M (established IoT) but the crop of new low-powered IoT-oriented networks is going to change all that, according to veteran M2M expert, Robin Duke-Woolley, who heads Beecham Research which has just published a report ‘Low Power Wide Area Networks for IoT Applications Market Report and Forecast’ (See -  Second Look: The IoT network scene will remain fragmented).

Duke-Woolley reckons the LPWANS - including offerings from the likes of Sigfox, Weightless and companies in the LoRa Alliance - will be providing 26 per cent of total IoT connectivity by 2020 and by then will account for over 345 million connections.

“Our look at LPWANs highlighted that there are many applications that are not big data and not necessarily real-time, interactive or immersive,” he says. “So, from a connectivity point of view, the market will move towards 4G-5G for satisfying big data IoT, while on the other side, LPWANs and equivalent networks will address the low data IoT requirement.”

According to David Parker, senior analyst at Beecham Research and the author of the report, “The lower speeds of LPWANs are the trade-off for longer range, offering networks optimised for machine connectivity with much lower deployment costs than traditional cellular networks. LPWANs will both compete and collaborate with cellular and other network technologies to stimulate market growth with more connectivity options for end-users.“

But while things look rosy for IoT and all her sail in her, experienced players like Robin Duke-Woolley are usually - when they talk to me at least - uneasy about the industry’s tendency to be, how shall we say it, ‘over-optimistic’ in its forecasts.

“We have seen some staggering predictions of the number of connected devices in the next five or ten years that are simply unrealistic,” Robin says. “The risk is that new and established companies build business plans based on these forecasts and run out of funding before they have a chance to become established and see their return on investment.”

Watch out for our upcoming IoT LPWAN video feature filmed at the recent Internet of Things World Europe, in Berlin.

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