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Key Criteria for Evaluating LPWAN Technology Providersv1.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Unlicensed LPWAN Technology 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 (LPWA) is a wireless connectivity technology that enables data communication at low rates between devices across long distances, with minimal power consumption. LPWA Networks (LPWANs) leverage these wireless protocols to deploy IoT solutions by connecting devices to a network stack, which in turn routes device data to business applications.

LPWAN technologies capitalize on the inherent qualities of low-frequency radio communications, enabling long range propagation and low power consumption. This also means that the data transfers supported by LPWAN are high latency and slow, which limits its applications to sensors and trackers rather than enabling applications such as video streaming or connected automobiles.

A typical LPWAN architecture includes the following elements:

  • Connected devices (typically sensors)
  • Gateways or base stations
  • Network stack
  • End-user applications

LPWAN connectivity can be supported across the electromagnetic spectrum, operating in either the licensed or unlicensed space. To operate in the licensed space, the connectivity provider (usually a mobile network operator) must buy the license for specific frequency bands from either its country’s telecommunications regulator (usually at auction) or from an already licensed private entity. The unlicensed frequency bands are typically reserved for industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) purposes and can be used by anyone, for free, without requiring a license. Note that the specific regulation of these frequency bands vary from country to country and from operator to operator.

In this GigaOm Report, we will be describing LPWAN technology in the unlicensed spectrum.

LPWAN connectivity is suitable for applications with the following characteristics:

  • Long range of 10 km/6 miles or more wireless connectivity from sensor to gateway
  • Low power consumption, with device battery life lasting up to 10 years
  • Terrain and building penetration to circumvent line-of-sight issues
  • Low operational costs (device management or connection subscription cost)
  • Low data transfer rate of roughly 20kbps

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.