Key Criteria for Evaluating Global LPWAN Network Providersv1.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Global LPWAN Providers Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. About Andrew Green

1. Summary

Low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) is an IoT communications technology that enables small data transfers over long distances with minimal power consumption. To do this, it leverages the natural qualities of low-frequency radio communications, which require low power to be produced, travel over extended distances, and propagate through obstructions such as buildings and other terrestrial obstacles. Because the data transfers supported by LPWAN are small, it is limited to applications such as sensors and trackers, rather than enabling applications such as video streaming or connected automobiles.

LPWAN providers offer network-as-a-service IoT connectivity solutions, managing the network stack on the customer’s behalf and providing widespread geographical coverage. As long as the provider has coverage within the required areas, a customer deploying an IoT solution would only need to purchase suitable connected devices and onboard them onto the provider’s network. The LPWAN provider will supply customers with a portal that reports on the data collected by the sensors as well as the option to forward the sensor data to the customer’s applications or cloud environments.

LPWANs can operate in either the licensed or unlicensed spectrum. To communicate in the licensed frequencies, network providers need to have purchased the right from the relevant telecommunications regulator, which is typically expensive and poses a high entry barrier, so is almost exclusively available to large mobile network operators (MNOs).

For this report, we are looking at LPWAN providers in the unlicensed spectrum, who operate in the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) frequency bands that can be used by anybody without the need to purchase spectrum licenses.

LPWAN connectivity is suitable for applications with the following requirements:

  • Long-range (5-10 km / 3-6 miles) wireless connectivity from device to gateway
  • Low-power consumption, device battery life lasting up to ten years
  • Terrain and building penetration to circumvent line-of-sight issues
  • Low operational costs (device management or connection subscription cost)
  • Small data transfers of up to ~20kbps
  • Device location tracking

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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