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LPWA makes its move from private to public networks

street lights

© Flickr/cc-licence/JKMarco

  • Private network LPWA connections make up more than 90 per cent of total
  • Public network to grow to 66 per cent by 2021
  • Applications not requiring low-latency are prime candidates for LPWA

Low-Power Wide Area (LPWA) connections from application-centric, private networks accounted for more than 90 per cent of connections in 2015, but the market is now undergoing a transition as it shifts away from private networks in favour of public networks. That’s according to ABI Research, who also forecast that public networks will connect nearly 66 per cent of total end-points by 2021.

“Standardized cellular LPWA technologies starting with LTE Cat M followed by NB-IoT will witness connections by 2017, as the technologies become commercially available,” said Adarsh Krishnan, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “Public LPWA networks using proprietary technologies will see the strongest surge in connections, boasting an average 56 per cent CAGR through 2021.”

According to ABI Research, LPWA network technologies can unlock the market potential for new M2M and IoT applications at much lower costs by targeting applications that don’t require low-latency networks. Much of the future growth in proprietary LPWA connections is likely to come from the smart meter and street lighting segments, with smart gas and water metering showing the most growth – thanks to the meters being battery-operated and therefore power consumption is an essential factor when choosing the right access technology.

“Although there is much hype surrounding public LPWA network technologies, the market is still seeing adoption of private networks,” added Dan Shey, Managing Director and VP at ABI Research. “For instance, Swiss Post recently announced it will follow La Poste in its plan to build a nationwide private LoRa network in Switzerland. Though public network will dominate market growth, private networks will not be dead in the water anytime soon.”

Sigfox and LoRa have already both built up strong ecosystems of network and telco partners across the IoT value chain to build their own public LPWA networks, whilst US-based Ingenu recently announced plans to provide public networks in 25 countries on six continents and will work with one licensed operator partner in each market. Meanwhile, ABI Research says Telensa – a leading provider of private networks for smart street lighting with its PLANet LPWA solution – is already facing increased competition from public LPWA networks.

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