Non-cellular LPWA tech needs standards

Non-cellular LPWA tech needs standards

The market for low power wide area (LPWA) technologies has a lot of potential for growth, but the lack of standards creates challenges, according to ABI Research.

Without rules and regulations set for proprietary vendors, ABI believes growth will be “conservative”. They need to identify and address challenges affecting mainstream adoption.

For example, businesses in this area need to open up the vendor ecosystem and develop a sustainable revenue model for public networks and organisations.

Risks growing on LPWA

Proprietary PWA technologies are already at risk from cellular standards such as NB-IoT, EC-GSM-IoT, and eMTC, all of which are supported by an open, robust vendor ecosystem.

Major providers of the tech include include Semtech Corporation, SIGFOX, Ingenu, Sensus, Microchip, Silicon Labs, and Kerlink, which make millions in profit yearly.

Adarsh Krishnan, senior analyst at ABI Research, explains that while many in the industry are more interested in non-cellular IoT tech, lacklustre standards outweigh the positives for them.

He said: “While network operators typically favour non-cellular LPWA technologies for their low deployment and maintenance costs, the lack of standards among proprietary vendors is a drawback to wider adoption of these technologies. The closed ecosystem is limiting market innovation and suppressing year-on-year growth.”

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Creating standards

The Weightless SIG consortium is currently in the process of developing a standard-based LPWA to further market growth, but past failures are affecting it create a “credible solution”. It’s just unveiled plans for a Weightless-P technology collaboration with Taiwanese company M2COMM.

The tech is set to launch by the third quarter of this year for public and private deployment. As well as this, private networks are always popping up, which are favoured by firms catering for smart grid applications.

Advancements are also being made in public network infrastructure, and between late 2017 and early 2018, many in the industry expect that they’ll become the gateway for intelligent, reliable LPWA technologies.

“This is one market ripe for development, and there are many application segments out there in which LPWA technologies can be utilised but did not find their place yet, such as connected agriculture and commercial building automation,” said Krishnan.

“Once the infrastructure for nationwide public networks takes off and standardisations are set, we will start to see these new applications come out of the woodwork, and we believe it will signify big opportunity for the non-3GPP LPWA technologies.”