What is what in the IoT sphere: Telenor Research explains

Telenor Research has taken up the responsibility to explain the science behind the buzzwords for everyone to truly understand what they mean. This time it’s IoT.

By 2025 industry experts predict that each one of us will have at least four connected devices, making the Internet of Things (IoT) contain more than 20 billion things that are interconnected. This requires an end-to-end solution with hardware, platforms, applications and analytics and connectivity.

But what is the NB in NB-IoT? And why is LoRaWAN mentioned in the same sphere? And what does LPWA have to do with it all?

IoT is just the new name for M2M

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, aka things talking with other things, is not new. Traditionally M2M use cellular networks (e.g. 2G/3G/4G) or radio technologies for short range local networks (e.g. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi).

Now M2M is growing and frequently referred to as IoT, and with that new technologies have emerged. One of these technologies is Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks and these networks are characterized by low power consumption and wide area coverage and can connect large number of devices.

The acronyms we hear a lot: LPWA, NB-IoT and LoRaWAN

LPWA IoT can be divided into 2 categories: cellular LPWA (e.g. NB-IoT, LTE-CatM1) and proprietary LPWA (e.g. LoRa, Sigfox).

Whereas cellular LPWA technologies operate under licensed spectrum, proprietary LPWA use unlicensed spectrum and can also be deployed by non-telecom companies.

NB-IoT (Narrow Band -IoT) and LoRaWAN (long range) are among the most known standards of these two types LPWA. Each of them excel on distinct technical and commercial characteristics and are suited for different use cases.

For global IoT solutions aiming for scale and requiring interoperability across markets NB-IoT is a more suited standard. In the case of LoRaWAN, low cost modules and an open standard approach enables ecosystem formation and stimulates innovation among technology enablers and adopters. LoRaWAN deployments may pose interoperability challenges, fragmented regional regulation and may require many low cost devices to be connected to the network to ensure wider reach.

Experts predict that NB-IoT and LoRaWAN technologies will co-exist and complement each other, and together will cover a large share of the IoT market.

Bonus: IoT in Telenor

Telenor Norway is committed to deploy NB-IoT in 2018. Other BUs are exploring various opportunities within LPWA technology landscape to secure growth and scalability of their IoT business.

Selecting suitable connectivity standards is critical for Telenor units as this may determine how fast and successful the companies are in capturing growth opportunities. Not less important are strategic decisions on the enablement platform, development of analytics capability and work towards best device manufacturers and vendors.

New generation IoT is a moving target today, therefore testing different technologies, devices and platforms is essential for Telenor. Being accessible to developers, open to startups, SMEs, students and hobbyists is not less important for capturing opportunities along the IoT value chain.

Telenor Research has launched Start IoT initiative in Norway to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship by providing easy, cheap and fast access to prototyping IoT solutions for local entrepreneurs and startup communities.

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