Japanese telecoms giant Softbank is pushing LPWA connectivity and broadening its IoT services.

Japanese operator Softbank has joined the crowd of innovators introducing Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology as it seeks to build an environment in which IoT services can thrive.

Japan’s third largest mobile operator will start to rollout LoRaWAN – one type of LPWA network – later this financial year, eventually offering a series of end-to-end IoT solutions that harness the potential of low cost, low power connectivity.

These solutions will range from device and application support to consulting, as Softbank attempts to help implement a suitable IoT environment for industry sectors that require cheap, no-hassle networks. The company is planning to target sectors such as commercial equipment monitoring, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, automated gas and water meter reading, senior citizen and child monitoring, infrastructure maintenance, logistics, and fleet management.

Read more: Dutch telco KPN deploys countrywide LoRa network

Softbank’s LoRaWAN will benefit IoT ecosystem

The firm plans to introduce LoRaWAN, an LPWA network on Japan’s unlicensed 920MHz band. In addition to meeting the low cost and energy efficiency requirements for IoT, LoRaWAN has a number of characteristics to boost IoT expansion. These include a long-lasting battery life, huge communication ranges, connectivity for multiple devices, and cheap communication modules.

softbank LoRa
Prospective uses for LoRa / Softbank

Marc Pegulu, vice president and general manager at Semtech, who helped devise the wireless capabilities of Softbank’s LoRaWAN network, said “We are excited to see that SoftBank has decided to launch an IoT network based on Semtech’s LoRa wireless RF technology. It’s also a great example of how ecosystem partners from the LoRa Alliance continue to work together to establish the LoRaWAN™ protocol as the leading solution for low power, wide area networks worldwide.”

In July 2016 Softbank purchased UK chip manufacturer ARM, in a strategic move to position Softbank for an IoT push. It was a valuable acquisition considering ARM’s leading position in the low power sector of the market, which Softbank now has its sights firmly set on.

Steve Teng, vice president of Hon Hai Precision Industry’s IoT Business Unit, agreed that the move was a step in the right direction for IoT innovation.

“With SoftBank’s adoption of LoRaWAN technology”, he said, “we greatly look forward to seeing innovative communication and IoT services. As a long-term business partner, we will work closely together with SoftBank to promote the IoT business that utilizes LoRaWAN technology.”