IoT Blog
IoT Blog

How LPWA Networks Power the IoT to Create New Industries

We don’t usually recognize when the future arrives because it’s a gradual, silent shift that occurs before you know it. Technological revolutions happen over time as society gradually integrates new innovations into day-to-day life. Only upon reflection do we realize how dramatically a piece of technology has impacted the world. But that’s about to change: the Internet of Things (IoT)—driven by Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networks—is about to make the everyday feel like the impossible future. 

New industries will arise, as will new uses for old technology. Companies that seemed static and unchanging will undergo revolutionary changes. A connected future, in which every object can, in theory, talk to every other object, will increase efficiency and drive better user experiences. This will prompt us to rethink processes that we’ve long taken for granted. 

It’s exciting, but this is all theoretical. First, we must overcome a challenge. Reliable data transfers are a prerequisite if the IoT is to reach its full potential. A future that’s designed around connectivity can’t ever lose signal, or the system will grind to a screeching halt. That’s why IoT-enabled devices need LPWA modules that work seamlessly with any LTE-M or NB-IOT network in the world. 

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Understanding LPWA Networks and Wireless Modules

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, we offered ten demonstrations of how LPWA would work for the IoT. This, in and of itself, demonstrated the remarkable speed with which this technology has advanced. At the Mobile World Congress last year, demos ran over-the-air (OTA) technology. Now, a year later, LPWA networks are live. 

This is possible because 3GPP instituted three LPWA standards, known as LTE-M, NB-IoT, and EC-GSM-IOT. In the past, these networks were a patchwork of proprietary technologies. They were useful, but they lacked a compatibility with broad, international (or even multi-regional) businesses. It made scaling extremely difficult, since working in America and Europe required different network solutions (thereby necessitating the usage of different network modules.)

With the standards in place, the Internet of Things can easily become the Internet of Everything. And that will mean huge changes for industries and businesses alike. These changes can be categorized in a few ways. 

New Tricks for Old Tools
When people talk about the IoT, they usually reference “the connected X,” where “X” is a refrigerator or a thermostat. We already have that. But the IoT will also empower so much more, such as clothing, parking sensors, power tools, bikes, lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners. Really though, it can be anything. Anything small or midsized that used to be prohibitively expensive to connect can now be connected without the cost and power requirements of traditional cellular. This allows companies to scale up their reach worldwide.

New Systems for Old Processes
Utilities are extremely excited about the prospect of having faster, more reliable connections. The ability to have remote sensors means we’ll see advancement in both predictive and preventative maintenance. You can immediately shift power when there are surges or shortages, preventing blackouts. Smart garbage cans can increase the efficiency of waste collection. Large industries and municipalities will soon redesign what is possible. 

All New Industries
It’s almost impossible to predict what will develop thanks to the evolution of the IoT. Sure, light bulbs may ultimately become self-replacing and vehicle-to-vehicle communication will become widespread. But there will be many new technologies and possibilities that haven’t even been imagined yet. 

The Right Modules Make Easier Connections
There are many industries and companies that lack experience with cellular technology. Adapting to the IoT could mean a dramatic overhaul across many sectors. This could prove to be complex and costly to a degree where it’s prohibitive. But that’s where open-source hardware comes in. 

Open source hardware, like the mangOH platform, is designed with the IoT in mind. It enables rapid prototyping and a shorter time to market. And this hardware can work in conjunction with any wired, wireless, sensor, and cellular technologies. 

Open source is a technological accelerant. It’s especially important for new companies trying to fill niches in the new technological world. The right modules allow for the creation of new tools, new processes, and even new industries. 

This is all made possible by connections; connections that allow devices to tap into the IoT. These advances allow creatives to see the world in a unique and innovative way. And this ultimately spurs change. That’s how the future becomes the present. Start with Sierra to start transforming what’s possible into what’s real.