Why You Should Use Low Power Wide Area Networks for IoT

Posted by Maura Mahoney on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 @ 05:43 PM

shutterstock_526720825.jpgThe internet of things (IoT) is changing the way companies in many industries work by allowing
them to monitor business processes and track assets for greater business insights. Companies gain greater control of
operations and clearer visibility into their supply chains. Vital equipment can be serviced more efficiently through predictive maintenance. Healthcare providers can remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions. 

As the benefits of IoT devices become more evident, the market for the technology is expanding. Gartner predicts the number of IoT devices will reach 26 billion by 2020. Business and economics researchers at McKinsey Global anticipate that the value of IoT will grow to anywhere from $3.9 to $11.1 trillion by 2025. 

Connectivity is a core feature of any IoT device. Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication allows IoT devices with embedded sensors, beacons, or RFID chips to connect with central networks so data can be collected and interpreted to make decisions.  

Among the various options for connecting IoT devices, low-power wide area networks (LPWANs) may emerge as the leader. While IoT devices can communicate over cellular or WiFi connections, LPWANs are more powerful, efficient, and cost-effective. 

Here are some reasons why connecting IoT devices with LPWANs makes sense:  

Longevity 

The value of IoT depends on maintaining a continuous stream of valuable data. Running out of power means experiencing gaps in the data flow that prevent your business from gaining a full view of equipment performance. With LPWANs, you gain long battery life. According to the report, Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) for Internet of Things (IoT) Applications: Research Challenges and Future Trends, batteries can last over a decade, eliminating the risk of dead batteries and the need to replace them.  

Better Coverage 

Many IoT use cases require that connectivity be maintained over a wide area. Companies need to monitor and maintain equipment in the field or at remote offices. Tracking the supply chain means reading chips and sensors while products and vehicles are in transit. Smart agriculture and cities involve monitoring devices over a large geographical region 

LPWANs are designed to sustain connections over long distances. They work particularly well in the harsh environments common in agriculture and the energy industry. LPWANs even allow businesses to extend their reach inside of buildings and underground.  

Superior Economics 

LPWANs can be a more cost-efficient alternative to cellular or WiFi connections for IoT. Both the hardware and data subscription costs are lower. LPWANs also offer a lower cost for power per device. With IoT networks connecting hundreds or even thousands of devices, cost-savings are vital for reaching a feasible connectivity solution.  

Making the Best Connection for IoT 

Experts forecast that LPWANs are the future of IoT because of the high-quality service they offer. There is a lot of room for growth. A Business Insider Intelligence survey found that only 31% of companies currently use LPWANs for IoT, compared to 80% using WiFi. However, they predict 700 million organizations will be using LPWANs by 2021. 

This expected growth in LPWAN adoption makes sense because these networks are ideally suited to the demands of IoT connectivity and interoperability. LPWANs provide the bandwidth capacity and throughput speeds required to handle streams of IoT data. These networks also work well for transmitting the short messages that come from IoT sensors and beacons.  

If you are looking for a better way to connect your IoT devices, FirstLight can steer you in the right direction. FirstLight is a regional leader in network solutions. We provide wide area network (WAN) solutions throughout the northeast for companies with a broad range of bandwidth needs.

Still unsure if LPWAN is right for your IoT needs? Reach out to the experts at FirstLight. 

Topics: IoT