Comparison Of LPWA Technologies And Realizable Use Cases (2018)

By Satish Chalapati, Tata Consultancy Services

The evolution of the Internet has opened a wide variety of opportunities for connecting devices remotely.

This has resulted in growing demand of remote maintenance and connectivity of devices and has made the Internet of Things evolve at a faster pace than anticipated. The advancement of wireless technologies and data transfer capacities over the same time frame has resulted in wider usage of internet over wireless. a The combination of all of the above factors has led to the development of IoT over wireless communications.

This paper will cover Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWA) technologies which have overcome the challenges of IoT over wireless by reducing power consumption, increasing coverage, tailoring the bandwidth according to the needs, and many other advantages.

There are various LPWA standards developed by GSMA, LoRa (SemTech), Sigfox, NB-Fi (WAVIoT), RPMA (Ingenu) leveraging 2G/3G/4G/5G bands and Industrial-Scientific-Medical (ISM) bands. Currently existing standards are LTE Cat 1, LTE Cat 0, LTE Cat M1 aka LTE-M (eMTC), NB-IoT aka LTE CatNB1 (Narrow Band), EC-GSM-IOT(EDGE), LoRaWAN, Sigfox, NB-Fi. Each of these technologies/standards are discussed and compared in detail in the sections of this paper.

Below are some of the features that are gained with the advancement of above technologies.

  • Low power consumption resulting in battery life >10 years.
  • Leveraging existing bands and future compatibility.
  • Lower device costs of around $5 and lower maintenance costs.
  • Improved connectivity – indoor and long range.
  • Tailored bandwidth for lower data rates, latency, and mode.
  • Network scalability with ease of capacity upgrade.
  • Roaming connectivity.
  • Security and authorization
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