IOT fragmentation and the rationale for LoRa LP-WAN
The technology may be low powered, but Tata Communications’ vision for India’s IoT future is anything but!
Organizations in many industries (manufacturing, IT, utilities, logistics, retail etc.) are focussing on how to realize operational efficiencies, create new opportunities and enhance customer service. The value and relevance of IoT is becoming more apparent to help organizations achieve these goals.
While many companies create niche offerings in IoT, a considerable number of organizations are struggling to find a partner that can offer an integrated IoT solution that ticks all the boxes at minimal cost, fast delivery, and a commitment to scale up customers’ efficiency via their IoT implementation.
Step forward, Tata Communications, which has a unique proposition for the Indian market, providing not just connectivity but a complete end-to-end service approach and a more suitable way to take advantage of IoT. To use a construction metaphor, the proposition is based on a solid foundation of developing a nationwide, dedicated low-power wide area network (LP-WAN).
This network uses a type of wireless technology that is designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate among connected objects, such as battery-operated sensors. The technology is known as LoRa and is being deployed in Tata Communications network across India.
The LP-WAN using LoRa is designed for the low data requirements of IoT sensors and devices. It provides significant advantages over GSM technologies, including:
- Better quality of service (QoS) metrics due to the dedicated nature of the IoT network. LoRa carries sensor data only, not voice nor other data traffic
- Low power consumption, allowing longer battery life and low maintenance costs
- Longer range. LoRa devices have a range of up to 20 km in rural areas
Tata Communications’ research has ascertained that the technologies used currently to connect ‘Things’ are either internet-based, use cellular networks, or piggyback technologies like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. These technologies are not technically or commercially optimized for the requirements of IoT devices and applications, and have therefore been found to be lacking.
Tata Communications is pioneering the introduction of LoRa-based LP-WAN in India. It has deployed a network dedicated to IoT, which covers twelve major cities to date and is available to more than 50 million citizens.
The plan is more ambitious: Tata Communications intends the network to cover all cities in India with a population of more than a million by the end of 2018 and all cities with a population of more than fifty thousand by 2019. This network will form the backbone of IoT applications in India.
Tata Communications is also developing a technology-agnostic IoT platform and multiple industry-specific applications. By developing an eco-system of hardware and software providers, application developers and partners, the company is positioning itself as an end-to-end IoT solution provider.
A partnership with Tata Communications enables organizations to access a comprehensive range of IoT services: hardware, network connectivity, systems integration, and platform & applications services by means of APIs.
With the launch of its LoRa-based IoT solutions, Tata Communications has initiated a new wave of interconnectivity at exactly the right time for India. The company intends to play its part in the Digital India initiative and takes its inspiration from being “Made In India”.
Tri Pham, Chief Strategy Officer, Tata Communications, says, “Tata Communications is dedicated to enabling cutting-edge, innovative communications solutions for the digital economy. Our approach for IoT and M2M services in India represents a significant investment to create not just a network but a technology test bed for developers to create applications to serve the Indian market.”