Semiconductor chips are found in nearly all modern industries: communication devices, automobiles, computers, mobiles, and many electronic devices. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a huge global market demand for chips, while the shipping ports were closed due to precautionary measures. Additionally, there were not enough working factories to meet the rising demand. According to Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s CEO, these logistics challenges created a global chip shortage that is not expected to end until 2024. Accordingly, the logistic problems shadowed chips’ prices, causing an exponential rise.
The shortage in chip supply pushed the IoT industry to search for suitable inexpensive alternatives for specific IoT devices that need to transmit a non-constant small burst of data to other devices over wide kilometers. The IoT industry found its request in LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network), and it’s now almost the standard protocol for IoT implementations in specific project scales. It’s worth mentioning that LPWAN is not a particular solution. It’s a general term that describes a specific category of networking technology based on signal coverage and power consumption characteristics, as detailed further in this blog.
The LPWAN market has been witnessing a steady growth in the adoption rates since 2020. In that year only, the active devices that use LPWAN grew by 62%, and the numbers keep growing each year, according to the latest market reports from IoT Analytics.
The relatively new wireless telecommunication protocol is meeting all IoT requirements because of its two main technological attributes:
1 – Long range coverage. It can establish a private and secure network between devices across a wide geographical area, up to 40 kilometers in rural areas and 5 kilometers in urban areas.
2 – Low power consumption. The average battery in a device can last for 5-10 years.
Add these two features to the inexpensive implementation cost, and you will understand why LPWAN is taking over the IoT industry. Think of a project implementing thousands of sensors throughout a smart city. Those sensors run on batteries. They are autonomous, need no maintenance for years, and transport only a limited amount of data in a non-constant way. This makes Wireless, RFID, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G no longer feasible options in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, leaving LPWAN as the only viable preference, as shown in the figure below:
One of the great benefits of the LPWAN is that it requires a low number of gateways, which means fewer implementation costs and less maintenance. That is why it’s widely implemented in all smart city solutions like smart parking, smart street lights, and smart metering. For example, some experts estimate the total number of gateways needed to cover Amsterdam by only 24!
We have saved one of the best LPWAN features to the end. LPWAN radio spectrogram is free! Anyone can use it without a license from authorities and transmit data on it without rent or other fees. This theoretically makes data cost down to zero!
LPWAN, like any other technology, has a downside. Depending on many factors, it may not be suitable for your solution. You need a trusted partner to walk you through all possible technologies and recommend the perfect fit for your solution.
Don’t worry; we can help. RPMAnetworks is a Danish premier IoT Solutions Provider and leader in planning, designing, implementing, and operating IoT solutions. Contact us now, and let’s discuss your next project: https://rpmanetworks.com/contact/