IoT Blog
IoT Blog

LPWA Network Migration Makes IoT Scalability a Reality

Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networks are allowing the IoT to change nearly every business in every industry. There’s a reason everyone wants to plug into the Internet of Things. But connecting to the Internet of Things is akin to plugging in a cord into a socket....until you realize there are a million plugs and a million outlets. Some have three prongs, others have just two.  Some outlets are American, others European, and still others Asian. And a single bad connection can bring down the entire system. 

This is what makes IoT so challenging to scale – especially true for industries with devices spread across different countries. There are many factors to consider, the most important being connectivity. If your sensors can’t actually transmit your IoT data, they are basically in the dark. 

As companies get more serious about their IoT deployments, they must leverage both a reliable network—nothing in the system can go dark—as well as a wireless form factor that can be scaled to any market and network. CF3 modules, which are one size and one design for any cellular technology, can serve as a bridge between different networking technologies, including LPWA. For many industries, that means transitioning to the more reliable, ubiquitous cellular networks. 

Doing so means having the right modules to work with LPWA networks. These networks make cellular connections a possibility for companies that have never considered it due to the the Three Cs: cost, current (battery power), and coverage. It’s important to have LPWA modules supporting LTE-M (aka Cat-M1) and NB-IOT (aka Cat-NB1) to ensure that you can achieve a simple and flexible network connection.

Infographic - Blog CTA - LPWA

LTE-M, NB-IOT, and The Migration to LPWA
One day, virtually all of the equipment underpinning our lives and cities will be connected to the Internet of Things. That creates an enormous amount of data, and for industries that rely upon heavy machinery—especially in locations with poor coverage—connections can be spotty and inconsistent. 

What is needed to fully unleash the power of the IoT are designs that can incorporate every network: 2G, 3G, 4G, LPWA, and beyond. That’s where our CF3 modules come in as they provide a: 

  • Common: across current and future product generations
  • Flexible: for mass manufacturing or build-to-order assembly
  • Form Factor: that is compact and fixed with defined footprints and a standardized pin-out regardless of network. 

LPWA makes perfect sense for many IoT applications. These are millions (or billions) or low-data devices that need consistent connection and are often spread out across geographic and political borders. That’s why the industry has been standardizing network systems. The two primary LPWA categories, as standardized by 3GPP, will be LTE-M and NB-IoT (or NarrowBand IoT). Standardizing these means that devices run on carrier networks will be more power efficient and less expensive, making it easier for industries to join the IoT. 

What are the benefits of this standardization, and of the modules that adjust to different networks? A leading smart meter company shows us the potential. 

Landis+Gyr and The Benefits of Scalability
Landis+Gyr sought to upgrade their connections from 3G to LPWA. But they have equipment spread across the planet. That made for a challenging proposition. But the Sierra Wireless’ CF3 form factor meant that they could swap out the 3G modules in their meters for Cat-M1 modules seamlessly. 

As Adrian Clark, CEO of Landis+Gyr’s Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia divisions, said, “Sierra Wireless’ modules made it easy to migrate from 3G to Cat-M1 technology. This was achieved seamlessly and we were allowed to take part in early trials and get to market quickly with solutions that take advantage of Cat-M1 network features. We are really excited by the results and the role this partnership plays in Landis+Gyr’s rollout of the next generation of advanced metering infrastructure.” 

A seamless migration is what makes scalability possible. Cat-M1 modules can prevent expensive board redesigns.  Companies are empowered to switch between various technologies and enter new markets with ease. Costly overhauls can be avoided, whether you’re expanding to another state or another continent. This connective technology moves at the speed of innovation. 

Essentially, the CF3 Cat-M1 modules simplify the confusing tangle of overlapping technologies. Industries can easily plug into the IoT, anytime and anywhere. Start with Sierra to learn more.