It’s been an interesting time in the LPWAN space the last couple of months; one well-known operator has filed for bankruptcy, another has changed its business plan, and simultaneously the LoRa Alliance® announced LoRaWAN®’s best year ever in the 2021 Year-End Report. The shifting tide has created a little uproar and I’ve been asked questions about what this means for those investing in LoRaWAN technology and those using and deploying LoRaWAN. My answer is simple: LoRaWAN is in the perfect position to grow market share and provide long-term services for uses globally because it is the unlicensed LPWAN technology for IoT. Today, LoRaWAN is the best performing LPWAN globally – a distinction it has earned over nearly a decade—and tomorrow will be no different. Enterprises and cities developing and executing their digital transformation strategies will choose LoRaWAN because it is a trusted technology, globally deployed, offers choice, and has the features and flexibility needed to enable a growing IoT market.
When I take a step back and look at the market, I see the typical ups and downs that some businesses experience as they operate in a growing and emerging market, which represents IoT. As they evaluate their strategic plans they may pivot to new strategies, if not for their own sake, then for the sake of their parent company. One company’s loss is another company’s chance to grow. This kind of change is normal in a healthy, growing market like the LPWAN space, and LoRaWAN is extremely well-positioned to withstand these changes because of its incredibly strong eco-system, among many other things. Short-term fluctuations don’t bother me – in fact, I think they’re expected when so much opportunity is at stake.
Long-term, I’m excited about LoRaWAN and the IoT enablement opportunity it creates for businesses in a myriad of industries across the globe. LoRaWAN will help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges: food & water security, the health, safety, and happiness of people, and the means for enterprises and governments to grow while providing better services to customers. My litmus test for long-term connectivity technology success is based on key factors that enabled other technologies—broadband cellular, ethernet, WiFi, and BlueTooth—to succeed. These are the key factors LoRaWAN shares, making it the top technology for LPWAN IoT:
1. Is it useful? Does the technology solve problems, provide services, and enable useful innovation?
IoT, and in particular, LPWAN IoT, absolutely needs wireless technologies to enable applications and use cases. The field is relatively new and has vast scope for growth. Within LPWAN, there will always be requirements for unlicensed technologies and LoRaWAN is especially fit for purpose because it is standardized and interoperable. LoRaWAN’s best features include its long range, low power consumption, resistance to radio interference, low CAPEX and OPEX costs, flexible business model, FUOTA, deep penetration and roaming capabilities. And it’s still evolving. These features are key requirements to enabling sensor-based, massive IoT applications and use cases.
In recent years, more businesses have innovated with LoRaWAN to address social and environmental concerns. Automated alerts triggered by analysts of the data that LoRaWAN collects creates significant opportunities for resource conservation, predictive maintenance and safety, as well as waste reduction, to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of our resources and businesses.
2. Is it proven?
For nearly a decade, LoRaWAN has been deployed over a huge installed base across many vertical industries, entity types and geographic locations enabling countless IoT applications. Unlike other technologies that are dominant in a single country – LoRaWAN is truly globally deployed with analyst firms predicting LoRaWAN’s continued global adoption, cementing it as the dominant unlicensed LPWAN. Additionally, LoRaWAN will continue to thrive because it can readily be used to complement other technology solutions.
3. Does it have a strong ecosystem?
LoRaWAN’s strength begins with its ecosystem—the members of the LoRa Alliance®—which works tirelessly to develop its capabilities, creating a data exchange that is extremely popular because it is has broad network availability, the ability to roam globally, and offers a flexible business model with considerable cost savings. Members are from all parts of the IoT value chain and the breadth of the LoRaWAN ecosystem protects long-term investments in LoRaWAN, fosters innovation and drives down costs – no vendor lock-in worries with LoRaWAN. There are numerous companies available to deploy, manage and grow LoRaWAN networks in whatever manner customers want to meet the needs of their business or IoT application requirements. More companies from all continents join every month.
4. Is it secure and interoperable?
LoRaWAN was designed as a secure, open and interoperable standard from the beginning, nearly 10 years ago. The strength of its security, among other reasons, is such that in 2021, LoRaWAN was officially recognized by ITU-T as an international standard. I picture that this is the first of several organizations to recognize LoRaWAN as a standard in the coming years.
5. Is it trusted?
Trust in LoRaWAN is demonstrated by the size of the ecosystem and the number of massive IoT deployments. Further, thanks to a robust LoRaWAN Certification program, users of LoRaWAN know that the certified end-devices they deploy will adhere to the LoRaWAN specification and that they will perform as expected. Users also trust LoRaWAN for the long-term as the headaches of ongoing maintenance expenses and TCO are greatly reduced because of the quality of LoRaWAN CertifiedCM devices and ecosystem diversity.
Despite short-term market volatility, opportunities abound for businesses seeking growth and LPWAN IoT digital transformation. We expect nothing less than continued adoption of LoRaWAN, even more variety in use case applications, and if the first quarter of 2022 is any indication, sky-rocketing membership numbers.
Market trends come and go, but foundational technology like LoRaWAN stays the course.
LoRaWAN will more than survive; it’s going to thrive.