With LP-WAN becoming such an important part of the IoT space, there are numerous players hoping to dominate the market for the technology which will allow billions of sensors and other M2M devices to communicate. One company, Semtech, wants to continue its dominance in the space by providing LoRa technology which is the culmination of their ten-year investment.
Vivek Mohan, Director Wireless & Sensing Products Group at the company told me they recently did a test from the Cisco headquarters in Silicon Valley to San Francisco – 50 miles away and they maintained the link for up to 30 miles.
This is important because IoT sensors are quite often located in basements, behind metal pipes or in elevator shafts where WiFi, Zigbee or bluetooth will not reach.
This is why he explains the LoRa Alliance is growing so quickly – 500 members and counting over the last two years.
He says they want to make LoRa and LoRaWAN the standard for LP-WAN. Their focus will be on low-bandwidth solution – sensors which need to last a decade in the field and which transmit a few times each day.
Some of the natural markets he explained are utilities, smart buildings, parking sensors, street lights, environmental sensors, agriculture (LoRa tags on cattle), health and safety and supply chain and logistics where he said tags can eventually be placed on packages to allow them to be tracked more precisely.
This would require a thin, disposable tag and global network with roaming.
He said we will see billions of nodes with processing in the cloud and end-nodes and gateways which are simple and dumb. Currently he explained a stack, microcontroller, memory and radio costs around five dollars but they have a roadmap to get it under three.
We asked if he is seeing Moore’s Law applying to his business and he said it used to but not today. He said as volumes ramp, improvements will come more quickly.
Finally he touted the low cost of gateways – around $50 for indoor and $1,500 for outdoor explaining this could save thousands of dollars versus cellular solutions.
The biggest impediment to growth is operators trying to sell end-to-end solutions. To this point the industry has been too disjointed to do this easily in our opinion. The Alliance is working with systems integrators like HPE, Schneider Electric, Capgemini and Accenture to speed up turnkey deployments.
Semtech is one of the few old timer companies in the Valley – 60 years is quite an accomplishment and with the growth of IoT expected to be meteoric, it looks like it has found its time to shine brighter than ever.
To learn more, be sure to attend the Enterprise IoT Event, IoT Evolution Jan 22-25, 2018 and see IBM, Ingenu, Cradlepoint, TellientARM, McAfee & other major companies. Special focus on Smart Cities, Security, IIoT and case studies.