Ten years ago, cellular networks were expected to drive the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things. According to a recent analysis by Enterprise IoT Insights, Cisco and Ericsson forecast that the connected devices market will exceed 50 billion by 2020.
However, the IoT market has expanded more slowly than anticipated back then, with only 12.4 billion IoT devices in use now, more than a year after these projections were made. However, LPWAN options like LoRaWAN, which are easily adaptable to the needs of IoT applications, will significantly impact extensive IoT.
Massive IoT consists of numerous inexpensive, low-complexity devices connected to networks with limited throughput speeds. How businesses run, how public infrastructure is monitored, and how organizations approach sustainability programs are all transformed by this combination of sensor-enabled hardware and networks designed specifically for the Internet of Things.
So, it’s simple to understand why expectations for cellular networks were high ten years ago. After all, other categories of gadgets were dominated by cellular connectivity.
The solution to cellular IoT Challenges provided by Lorawan
One of the significant obstacles to comprehensive IoT deployments using cellular networks has been the cost of the infrastructure in particular. Costly infrastructure is needed to support cellular, including towers that cost more than $100,000 to install, pricey gateways, and significant labor for network development and continuing operation.
Contrary to unlicensed LPWAN systems like LoRaWAN, which can quickly adapt to IoT application needs, cellular networks have an intrinsic deployment paradigm that prevents operators from expanding networks on demand. Corresponded to cellular-based resolutions, the cost of LoRaWAN hardware’s bill of materials (BOM) is cheaper, which lowers the cost of the infrastructure as a whole and the cost of the solution.
LoRaWAN is a more practical option for projects that need to remain longer in the field because firmware updates for cellular devices often dramatically reduce battery life compared to LoRaWAN devices once devices are deployed.
According to Semtech, LoRaWAN uses three to five times less power than NB-IoT. ABI Research discovered that LoRaWAN devices’ battery life lasts more than five years longer on average, giving a more useful life, depending on the use case, compared to batteries used in NB-IoT devices. According to their experimental results utilizing sensors built by a team of researchers from the Universities of Bologna, Trento, and Integrated Systems Laboratory, LoRaWAN battery life can last up to ten times longer than NB-in IoT’s some applications.
Coverage Gaps and Fewer Options
Cellular IoT solutions have not been widely adopted due to NB-IoT and CAT-M1 deployment delays. However, LoRaWAN is expanding quickly because of the adaptability of deployment strategies and expanding interoperability amongst network operators, which, when combined, will soon provide worldwide coverage.
Using cellular IoT technology to manage deployments across sites is substantially more difficult due to a lack of networks and interoperability problems. LoRaWAN networks, on the other hand, are expanding significantly. According to the LoRa gateway Alliance, there are more than 160 nations with public LoRaWAN networks, as opposed to 64 countries with NB-IoT or LTE-M providers, as reported by the GSA.
On the other hand, the LoRa gateway or Alliance provides end users with a specific device certification mechanism that gives them peace of mind that sensor-enabled end devices comply with the LoRa gateway specification. End device compliance assures proper network behavior, lowering maintenance costs and averting product failure later on when a patch would be more expensive.
Some operators have even given up on NB-IoT, as seen by the decisions made by NTT DoCoMo and Dish Network over the past year to focus on Cat M1, LTE-M, and 5G, respectively.
5G Is Not the Answer
NB-IoT and Cat M1 are 4G technologies that are 5G compatible. Therefore they are benefiting from the excitement around 5G. As 2G and 3G reach the end of their useful lives, 5G is promoting itself as the technology that will fill the void left when more than half of the current cellular IoT connections stop working.
Only 290 publicly revealed private 5G networks have been implemented globally, and 5G spectrum applications have significantly decreased. Nevertheless, there has been minimal enterprise uptake.
Although 5G supports NB-IoT and Cat M1 to provide a cellular solution for large-scale IoT deployments, none of them are close to bridging the gap. The coexistence of many IoT technologies will maximize long-term IoT deployment ROI.
In contrast to LoRa gateway or loRaWAN, which will be the leading technology for use cases requiring long range, deep indoor penetration, battery-powered devices, coverage under challenging environments, and implementations requiring a combination of public and private networks, cellular technologies will support the use cases requiring continuous communications, higher data rates, or lower latency.
Cellular networks were supposed to propel the Internet of Things (IoT’s) rapid growth ten years ago, but the IoT market has grown more slowly than predicted. LPWAN choices like LoRaWAN will more impact future large-scale IoT projects.
Compared to NB-IoT devices, LoRaWAN devices’ battery life lasts more than five years longer on average, providing a more useful life depending on the use case. Due to a lack of networks and interoperability issues, managing installations across sites using cellular IoT technologies is significantly more challenging.
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