Swiss telecoms firm Swisscom has unveiled an Internet of Things (IoT) network with a view to launching services by the end of this year.
The network, which spans the whole of Switzerland, is based on the LoRa Alliance’s Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) standard, which uses unlicensed spectrum to send small amounts of data over long distances.
The telco launched a pilot IoT network in Geneva and Zurich last year and so far has received interest from more than 100 companies, public authorities and universities. This has led to the development of 15 concept services to run over the IoT network. Some of these services are in a beta phase while others have been fully implemented.
The network is seen by Swisscom as forming the basis for smart cities, smart cities, energy-efficient buildings, machine-to-machine networking and new digital applications.
The network offers a narrow bandwidth, which gives it a wide reach as well as energy-efficient transmission and reduces networking costs. Depending on the application, sensors can transmit information all year long, independently of the electrical network and powered by batteries. Applications with high data requirements, such as cars, remote maintenance or real-time control systems, will in future also use the mobile network. They will benefit from the combination of various networks with individual characteristics.
The basic network is planned to expand by the end of 2016, partly through Swisscom Broadcast’s existing transmitter sites. This means that 80 per cent of Switzerland’s population will have outside coverage by the end of 2016. In ten cities, partial indoor coverage is also planned.
The Low Power Network operates on the non-licensed SRD band and transmits information with a maximum of 0.5 watts. The network’s emissions are extremely low, far below the legal limits.
IoT networks in the UK
Christian Petit, head of Swisscom enterprise customers, said that in many cases, devices only need to transmit the smallest units of information.
“This is precisely why we are setting up this network: in order to efficiently network objects such as fire hydrants, bicycles, umbrellas and much more,” he said.
Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of core mobile network startup Core Network Dynamics, told Internet of Business that building and operating a dedicated IoT network for the UK is possible and desirable.
“I believe that Swisscom has made the right choice by going for LoRa as this seems to be the most open and operator-friendly IoT network protocol. However, I believe that ideally, an IoT network should offer a multi-protocol architecture and support devices with a variety of IoT protocols and combine with traditional network access protocols such as LTE and 3G or even 2G, but including Non-3GPP protocols such as WiFi.
“The future of IoT will be heterogenous, devices will use a wide variety of protocols, and operators can play a key role by harmonising the landscape and providing a single-point-of-contact for IoT for their customers,” he said.
Idris Jahn, IoTUK principal consultant of middleware and data interoperability at Digital Catapult, told Internet of Business that in order to adapt to and realise the true potential of smart cities, and maximise the societal impact that IoT technologies can have, “industry collaboration and data sharing is critical”.
“Interoperability between businesses, organisations and citizens will enable an efficient and scalable ecosystem so that a smart city can thrive and continue to evolve,” he said.