Monthly Archives: March 2017

Open LoRa Implementations: Looking At IoT Networks Around The Globe

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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The world is getting more ‘connected’ than ever before. Yearly investments on smart city projects are growing at exponential rates – and are expected to inch towards the $12.5 billion mark by the end of 2025. There are, at present, well over 250 such projects – in more than 178 cities worldwide (a 47%+ increase over 2013 Q3 figures). Not surprisingly, Semtech’s LoRa technology leads the way as the preferred wireless protocol for IoT network deployment in most places. We will, in what follows, list out the use cases of some interesting open LoRa implementations across the world:

  • In Belgium

    By 2016, nearly the entire country had been brought under the coverage of LoRaWAN network. The implementation was done by Proximus (earlier known as Belgacom). Apart from Brussels, Flanders and other important cities, LoRa-powered IoT networks have also been extended to Luxembourg, while further deployment in locations inside Wallonia are in progress. The LoRa Alliance is a strategic partner of Proximus, while leading M2M service provider Actility is one of the technology partners. Interestingly, it has taken only 360-odd LoRa base stations to cover the entire country.

  • In Italy

    Semtech has collaborated with Italian multi-utility service provider A2A, to implement LoRaWAN protocols – in a bid to to create an ambitious ‘A2A Smart City’ project. The Italian company has joined hands with Smart City Lab to bring the IoT edge to diverse applications/activities in the country – ranging from smart parking, smart security, and health & infrastructure, to smart meters and even governance-related applications. Prior to the implementation, the LoRa networks were extensively tested in Brescia (at Smart City Lab). A2A currently works out of Brescia, Milan and Bergamo. In Rome, Unidata will be deploying the LoRa standard in 2017.

  • In United States

    San Francisco is one of the two states selected by Comcast for giving trial-runs to LoRa IoT networks (the other being Philadelphia). The trials involve the implementation of this LPWAN technology in a vast array of applications, including environmental tracking, asset monitoring and utility meters. Senet Inc. is another major US-based IoT/M2M telecom operator which has deployed LoRa networks in 100+ cities in the United States (since mid-2016). Both Comcast and Senet have plans to expand the coverage further in 2017 and beyond.

  • In China

    Last August, MultiTech Systems announced that it will be transforming Weinan (a city in the Shaanxi province) into a smart city, with the help of LoRa technology. Smart agriculture is the main sector of interest in Weinan – and the LPWAN sensors have proved to be extremely useful for tracking, analyzing and delivering pertinent, real-time information like air pressure, wind speed, temperature and humidity. A single network server from The Things Network (TTN) covers the whole of Weinan (2.5 miles). The city has a data center, where all the received data is monitored.

  • In Netherlands

    The first countrywide open LoRa implementation happened in Netherlands, in June 2016. KPN Corporate was in charge of doing the deployment – and the company started testing live LoRa networks from November 2015, in Hague and Rotterdam. The technology is, at present, functional (for testing) at important locations in the country – like the Utrecht Central Station (for rail switch monitoring) and the Schiphol Airport (for smart logistics management). More than 1.6 million devices have been already been brought under LoRa coverage, with further expansions in the pipeline.

  • In Australia

    LoRa became the standard for the very first IoT network Down Under, with Definium Technologies (in collaboration with Data 61 (CSIRO) and Sense-T (University of Tasmania) creating the sensors and setting up the LoRa gateways required for the network. The entire city of Tasmania has been brought under coverage – and LoRa has opened up the opportunities of digital inventory control, transportation data tracking, smart health, and other critical citywide IoT applications. As the technology matures further, its value propositions will expand from local to regional levels in Australia.

  • In South Korea

    SK Telecom announced the countrywide implementation of Lora technology in July 2016. The ‘Partner Hub Program’ of the company has around 100000 free LoRa modules – for the seamless deployment and integration of LPWAN-based IoT networks here. By 2017, it has been predicted that more than 4 million smart devices will be connected via LoRaWAN. All member companies of the ‘Partner Hub Program’ are provided with technical training as well as marketing support. The company’s Bundang Building is also set to host a ‘IoT Open Testbed’ for developers. To date, LoRa covers 99% of the overall South Korean population.

  • In India

    As many as 35 PoCs (proofs-of-concept) of IoT have been implemented by Tata Communications and Semtech. Rigorous testing of LoRaWAN specifications have been carried out at Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru – and the country’s first LoRa applications center will be located in Mumbai. According to reasonable estimates, over 200 million gadgets will be connected with LoRa Technology, by 2019. Smart energy management, building monitoring/maintenance, optimal resource utilization, and remote handling of ACs are some of the myriad tasks that would be performed with LoRa.

  • In New Zealand

    Semtech’s LoRaWAN has made its way in New Zealand as well – with the help of the collaboration between KotahiNet and Loriot. The service is made available from Wellington – and once again, key information related to smart agriculture (weather alerts, location tracking, etc.) is one of the focus areas. Thanks to its top-notch coverage, this LPWAN technology is increasingly finding acceptance (since the initial announcement last September) in both urban and rural areas of New Zealand. Apart from companies and governmental/municipal bodies, specialized conservation groups can also utilize the data received from LoRa sensors.

  • In Germany

    Stuttgart already has the powerful Netzikon LoRa network. This network will become available across the country by the end of 2018, with Actility handling the open implementation requirements. The lightning detector sensors in Thuringia are powered by Netzikon, with other smart city applications also set to be brought under LPWAN coverage. It should be noted that Sigfox – one of the main alternatives to LoRa – was present in Germany from even earlier.

  • In France

    In Lyon and Grenoble, heating expenses were brought down by as much as 16% with the help of IoT platforms. The LoRa technology has plenty of scopes for growth in several cities here – and two major French telecom service providers (Bouygues Telecom and Orange) have started out with the open LoRa implementation in France. In 2016 Q1, Orange offered LoRaWAN in 18 urban locations, while Bouygues (in partnership with Objenious) is also planning for the availability of the network in the entire country. By January 2017, more than 2500 towns in France had fully functional LoRa networks for outdoor/indoor operations.

  • In South Africa

    ‘FastNet LoRaWAN’ – the LoRa network deployed by Telkom SA SOC’s subsidiary FastNet, managed to cover slightly more than 40% of the country (including stretches along the Cape Region, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal) by October 2015. A wide range of M2M processes in the country will be benefitted by the low-power, high-range, and relatively cheap technology. A nationwide LoRa rollout is also being overseen by Comsol. Incidentally, Comsol also announced the biggest open implementation of IoT network in Africa last November.

  • In Sweden

    Talkpool AB and the Tele2 network have got together with Semtech for setting up a LoRaWAN-based IoT network in the city of Gothenburg. The excellent security features of LoRa, the high coverage and the minimal power consumption requirements have all been cited as major reasons behind the selection of LoRa for this network. Applications that will be powered by the new IoT architecture would include transportation, environment tracking, dedicated smart city solutions and smart metering.

  • In Japan

    In Japan too, a joint collaboration among Softbank Corporation, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Actility and Semtech Corporation has paved the way for the adoption of LoRa technology for wireless IoT network. The rollout (by Softbank) started in 2016, and LPWAN is expected to cover multiple areas – including smart water meter, smart warehousing, transportation and logistics, and infrastructure management. Implementations of NB-IoT and Cat-M1 by Softbank in Japan are also on the horizon.

By 2025, Asia-Pacific is expected to take up the leadership position in terms of LoRa adoption for smart cities – with Europe and the United States taking up the second and third spots respectively. The fact that cities can host a large number of ‘smart applications’ on their local municipal bodies and the costs are very low, emerge as significant business advantages of open LoRa implementation. The technology has plenty of robust technical advantages (being an open standard, availability of AES-128 encryption, etc.) as well. LPWAN will continue to storm the global markets in the foreseeable future – and LoRa will remain right at the heart of this ‘smart city revolution’.

 

 

Why Should All Telecom Companies Implement LoRa Technology?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Telecom companies have a lot to gain by implementing LoRa technology

 

The popularity of LoRaWAN among telecom operators across the globe is increasing at a rapid clip. By the end of 2016, the LoRa IoT protocol had been implemented in more than 50 countries (including private and public networks). The recent trends have led industry experts to forecast that around 61% of the 50+ billion IoT-enabled devices (i.e., connected devices) will be powered by the LoRa technology in 2021. In what follows, we will take a closer look at the factors that make this LPWAN protocol advantageous for telecom operators worldwide:

  1. Unrivalled battery performance

    Devices working in a LoRa network do not operate at higher than 10-25 mW (in compliance with ISM frequency usage regulations). That, in turn, economizes on total data consumption levels and enhances the battery life of the devices to 9-10 years, on average. This figure is significantly higher than the battery performance of both LTE Cat-M (<2 years) and Narrowband (<8 years) devices. By nature, LoRa uses ‘low power’, and hence its battery performance is higher than that of its rivals.

  2. Adaptive Data Rates

    The Adaptive Data Rates (ADR) of LoRa networks offer a much-needed flexibility to telecom companies which opt for it. In accordance to the ‘LoRaWAN R1.0 Open standard for the IoT’ (2015), this LPWAN protocol works in a data range of 0.3Kbps to 50Kbps. The ADR is managed by the network server, with the help of specific algorithms (for individual devices). As a result, the overall network capacity is optimally utilized, LoRa implementation becomes that much easier and efficient, and device batteries get a further boost.

  3. Superior coverage

    One of the biggest advantages of LoRa technology is its seamless usability in all types of environments (urban and rural). In fact, in rural/semi-urban areas, the coverage of LoRa network shoots up 15-18 kilometers – while in urban locations (e.g., cities) too, the coverage is upwards of 10 kilometers. As a result, only a few LoRa base stations need to be set up, to cover entire cities (for the creation of ‘smart cities’). For instance, nearly the whole of Belgium (nine-tenths) is covered by 360 base stations, around 250 base stations cover the entire of Switzerland, and for Netherlands, 500 base stations are enough.

  4. Unique value proposition

    LPWAN in general, and the LoRaWAN standard in particular delivers a niche service – something that cannot be provided by most of its rivals. Wireless technologies like Zigbee, Bluetooth and Wifi are typically functional over a low-range, and can only be used for applications that require low coverage. On the other hand, cellular technologies (like NB-IoT) are more powerful and offer faster data transfers – but are significantly more expensive than LoRa. The cost difference becomes all the more prominent when the need to upgrade these cellular technologies is taken into consideration. For low-power, long-range IoT networks, LoRa is the most viable.

Note: Implementation of NB-IoT is limited to locations where 4G/LTE base stations can be set up. The total number of base stations is also 7 to 10 times more (for the same coverage area) than in a LoRa network infrastructure.

    5. Significant cost advantage

Implementation of the LoRa network protocol requires the presence of advanced LoRa gateways and concentrators. While at first these might seem to be an additional expense (NB-IoT, for example, does not need gateways) – the gateways are very competitively priced. In addition, the cost of the radio chipsets is less than $2, while the telecom players have to spend no more than $1 (for each device) for the annual subscription. There are no hefty upfront investments required – and that mitigates the overall business risk factor considerably.

    6. Ideal bandwidth requirements

LoRa operates on a low bandwidth and via unlicensed frequency bands (915 MHz (US), 868 MHz (Europe)). As a result, the technology is ideally suited for IoT use cases that involve low/very low data transmissions and probable fluctuations in the data. To put it in another way, the low bandwidth requirement of LoRa technology makes it the perfect fit for IoT devices that only have to ‘deliver information’ (e.g., is a parking space full?) to end-users. Since unlicensed frequency spectrums are used, there are no fees or license charges involved either.

    7. Ease of deployment

Instead of the traditional mesh architecture, a LoRa setup follows the star-of-stars topology – for easier setup and deployment by telecom providers. The network architecture leaves little room for possible errors, and implementation is far from being costly. What’s more – thousands (literally!) of nodes/devices can be connected with a single gateway, lowering management-related pressures. The ‘Chirp Spread Spectrum’ (CSS) is used in the physical layer of the LoRa infrastructure. It is also possible to keep the radio-frequency (RF) link budget constant, while bringing down the transmitter power – to gain more battery performance.

   8. Open standard

Both LoRa and Sigfox are open standards – but the former offers greater advantages and better applicability to IoT solution providers. For starters, the bandwidth range of LoRa is higher than that of Sigfox, while the number of transferrable messages is also significantly more. Unlike Sigfox (which is maintained by a single private organization), the LoRa framework is maintained by the 400-member strong ‘LoRa Alliance’ – which makes backend modifications (as and when required) easier and more prompt. The LoRa ecosystem is also stronger and is ideal for open innovation. The network IP can be licensed out to third-party vendors. Being an open IoT standard, LoRa also supports smooth interaction across applications, and can be deployed faster as well.

  9. Scalability and security

To be classified as a ‘good wireless IoT standard’, a solution needs to be scalable – and LoRaWAN scores big on this count. Depending on the precise requirements of the final applications, the coverage/range of LoRa devices can be varied from 2-3 kilometers to 12-15 kilometers. A classic example of this variability would be the Micro Cell and Macro Cell gateways (available commercially). The network also ensures 100% data integrity and security with the help of the cutting-edge AES-128 encryption standard. The service from the LoRa end-nodes is somewhat like that from Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – with all data passing through between app servers and network nodes being encrypted. The top-notch security, reliability and scalability of LoRa technology helps it emerge as a great tool for telecom players.

 10. Minimal interference

In comparison with Bluetooth or Wifi, the performance of LoRa networks is a lot less affected by interferences. This advantage is brought about by the fact that LoRa operates in unlicensed sub-gigahertz frequency spectrums – and at these levels, very little power is required to ensure the smooth passage of data through different types of obstacles (Wifi, on the other hand, functions in the 2.4 GHz range). The chips and sensors used in a LoRaWAN architecture also offer greater adaptability and optimized data-exchanges – thanks to the spread-spectrum method it utilizes.

Note: In sleep mode, the LoRa end nodes consume as little as 200 nA power. The receiver uses 10 mA.

 11. Bi-directional communication supported

Different IoT applications have different functionalities, and hence, require varying capabilities. To ensure compatibility with practically all types of end-applications, the LoRa modules supports bi-directional communication (Sigfox also offers this, but the link budget is significantly lesser). On the basis of the type of communication(s) supported, LoRa devices are classified under 3 heads: a) Class A devices, which follow the ALOHA protocol, and have 2 small downlink windows after every uplink transmission, b) Class B devices, which receive in-sync beacons from LoRa gateways for opening additional ‘receive windows’, and c) Class C devices, which keep the ‘receive windows’ open, except when transmissions are going on.

  12. LoRa for smart cities

Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Netherlands, China, India – telecom players from various countries have started to implement the LoRa technology (open LoRa implementations). The reason for going with this LPWAN tool is fairly straightforward – LoRa can be used to create a vast range of IoT applications, right from smart parking slots, public lights and waste management tools, to connected car support, home automation, water and pollution meters, predictive maintenance sensors, and even city drones. For end-to-end coverage of a cities (for high-range, low-power, infrequent data transmissions), LoRa is the best solution.

In early-February this year, Actility joined hands with Inmarsat to create the world’s very first global LoRaWAN network. The application of LoRa in private networks is also increasing – with many companies using the technology to establish ‘smart workspaces’. The protocol can be integrated with 5G-supported base stations as well, ensuring future viability. The LPWAN market has moved on from its infancy stage and is well into its ‘early maturity’ phase. There are plenty of scopes for telecom companies to move on to the LoRa platform and expand their businesses – the technology has way too many advantages to be ignored.

 

Android O Is Coming: What’s New?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Android O first developer preview has been released

 

For Android fans, it is that time of the year again. Last week, the first developer preview of Android O was released (Android Oreo, maybe?) – keeping with the tradition of launching preview builds of new Android updates around eight weeks before the annual Google I/O event, which kicks off on May 17 this year. While the latest version of the Android OS has its fair share of interesting new features, Google has clearly gone for improving the overall Android-using experience with the new update, instead of bringing in revolutionary changes. In today’s discussion, we will look through the most noteworthy new features of Android O:

  1. New Autofill API

    The alpha preview of Android 8.0 has showcased the presence of a dedicated ‘Autofill’ application in the build. This app would take the autofilling functionality of Android devices to an altogether higher level. Instead of depending on password managers to avoid repetitive work (i.e., entering the login credentials each time an app has to be used), users will be able to store all details – right from usernames and passwords, to even addresses – in the ‘Autofill’ app. There will be a new ‘Autofill API’ as well, to implement this feature for the apps that require it.

  2. Picture-in-Picture mode

    Android 7.0 Nougat already brought split-screen multitasking to the table, and the latest OS update builds on that – with an all-new Picture-in-Picture (PiP) functionality. Two tasks – say, voice calling and media player app – can be used simultaneously with PiP, and end-users have the option of adjusting the aspect ratio of videos as well. Media controls are built-in, while applications can be put in the PiP mode in the active (playing) or ‘resumed’ state. Picture-in-Picture will be available on both phones and tablets.

Note: Android O will also have a robust multi-display window to support remote displays.

  1. More adaptive app icons

    Unless you are a Google Nexus or Pixel phone user, you are not likely to get a ‘plain vanilla’ Android experience. Most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do their own bit of customization on the platform – resulting in a lack of uniformity in the OS. The Android 8.0 update looks to tackle this issue effectively, by supporting app icons that are more adaptive, and are not significantly affected by the platform customizations done by the OEMs. General users as well as professional Android app developers expect that this would make the overall visual features of the OS more cohesive across handsets.

  2. Notifications Channels

    Google, with the upcoming version of Android, will provide more personalization options to users, for handling all notifications. The Notifications Channels – which, in essence, are a category-wise distribution of notifications – makes this easier than ever. When a notification is slightly swiped to the side, a clock icon appears (apart from the Notifications toggle icon). Tapping the clock sends the concerned notification to a 15-minute snooze. The snooze period can be expanded to 30/60 minutes through the drop-down menu. In addition, all notifications from a particular Android app can be disabled by doing a long press on a notification (which pulls up the Notifications toggle).

Note: Compared to Android Nougat, the Notifications Shade in Android 8.0 occupies a little more screen space (there are 6 toggles present on top). For the date/time display, a new, more condensed font has been used.

  1. Powerful connectivity

    Wifi Aware and support for Bluetooth HQ audio codecs are the two biggest new features of Android O on the connectivity front. The former does away with the need for specific internet access points every time apps or nearby devices have to interact, and establishes this communication via wifi and supported hardware. The Bluetooth codecs, on the other hand, will enhance the audio fidelity levels of devices upgraded to the latest Android platform.

  2. AAudio API

    Staying with the audio-related improvements in Android O, this is a new API (native API for Android) that allows applications to deliver audio performances with minimal latency and smoother streaming options. The API works through streams, and is expected by developers to be extremely useful for creating Pro-level audios. All apps that require high-quality audio with very low latency can collaborate with the AAudio API.

  3. Better battery life with background limits

    Every Android update promises improved battery performance, and the new version comes in with an all-new feature – background limits – to ensure this. There will be clearly specified limits on the background services, the location tracking (GPS) resources and the implicit broadcasts from an app in Android O. These limits, in turn, will ensure that there are no excessive battery drainages due to a particular app. Those who make Android apps will have to keep these limits under consideration while defining the functions of new mobile software.

  4. Revamped Settings

    In the first Android O developer preview (released on March 21), both the hamburger menu icon as well as the navigation drawer were not present in Settings. A new color theme (black and white for the Pixel/Nexus phones) has been introduced – although the AOSP settings are likely to undergo further changes prior to final release. Pixel-users are going to get two alternative options under ‘Device Theme’ (Pixel and Inverted). In general, Google has done a good job by overhauling the existing Settings menu and bringing in more descriptive categories here (no more blanket categories like ‘Personal’, ‘Wireless & Network’, ‘System’, etc.). A new battery and storage info section will also be present.

Note: Night Mode and Dark Mode have been in the radar for Android devices for long, without being able to make their way into the final versions of Android 6.0/7.0. Android O will introduce a Night Light feature (in the Display settings) in Pixel phones.

  1. More ‘colourful’ apps

    The new generation of Android phones will have wide-gamut colour array support – and on these Android O-powered devices, third-party developers can easily customize their imaging applications. Within the app manifest, a flag has to be enabled (each activity needs one) – to show the the entire colour gamut in the application. Practically all popular color profiles, including Pro Photo RGB, AdobeRGB and DCI-P3, will be supported. For the wide-colour gamut display, apps will also have to load bitmaps efficiently.

  2. Powerful WebView enhancements

    In the upcoming Android 8.0 platform, the webview is all set to become more stable and offer greater security. All types of online content present inside WebView will be multi-processed by applications – to keep things glitch-free and fast, while cutting down on the chances of crashes. What’s more, there is a new API in Android O as well, for handling every form of crashes and errors in WebView.

  3. App Badges

    This is yet another interesting feature for Android app makers. On the upcoming Android platform, each app icon will have a badge/bubble – which will show the number of unread notifications from it. These app badges can be adjusted from the notification settings of the individual applications, ensuring that users retain the final control. Of course, for incorporating other personal preferences, users can always tweak around in the System UI Tuner (Settings → System → System UI Tuner in Android O).

  4. Predictable keyboard navigation

    Two new predictable models have been built by Google in Android O – both for refining the keyboard navigations. The models are named ‘tab’ and ‘arrow’, and they will offer advanced predictable navigation experiences across interfaces. Since all applications present in the Google Play Store can now be accessed by Chromebooks, there is also a chance of physical keyboards rising in importance (with the same predictable standards).

Note: Project Andromeda, Google’s ambitious drive to merge Android with Chrome OS, is in the offing for long now. While the alpha preview of Android 8.0 has nothing related to it, there can be changes in later builds.

    13. App downloads from unknown sources

Once again, an upgrade on an existing feature instead of being something absolutely new. The previous versions of Android already made it necessary for users to enable ‘Unknown Sources’ from the security settings – whenever they wanted to download apps from any source other than Google Play. Android O has made this activity even more safe – by requiring people to grant permissions for downloading the APK of an application (that has to be downloaded from another source). For each app, this permission has to be given only once, and it can be revoked in future as well.

    14. XML font resources

In the latest edition of the Android OS, XML layouts can be used to configure the weight and the style of fonts. As a result, app developers will have greater control over the fonts that they opt to use in their new mobile applications. All that they have to do is bundle the font(s) to be used in an app – and the fonts will be configurable with XML, and be usable anywhere in the application.

In addition to being adaptive, the app icons in the new Android iteration would support custom animations and operability from Settings and launcher. The runtime is reported to be almost 2X faster than that of Android Nougat, and support has been extended to multiple new Java 8 Language APIs. There are more options present in the Lock Screen, while the Ambient Display has been changed as well.

A total of 4 developer previews of Android O will be released by Google (in March, May, June and July), leading up to the final release of the platform in 2017 Q3. The update will be available on Pixel C and other Pixel and Nexus handsets (Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P). More information about Android O should become available at this year’s Google I/O – and it remains to be seen how many of the features showcased in the alpha developer preview actually makes it on the final version.

But first things first – which tasty dessert will Android O be named after?

 

LoRa vs NB-IOT: Which IoT Standard Has The Edge?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Comparion of IoT standards LoRa and MB-IOT

 

The recent surge in the worldwide low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) market can be attributed to several factors. For starters, the rapid advancements in machine learning and M2M communication standards have played an important role, as have the burgeoning global demands for IoT services, availability of cheap LPWAN tools and energy-saving opportunities. It is expected that the value of the worldwide LPWAN market will swell to more than $46 billion in 2022 (the corresponding figure in 2015 was just over $0.5 billion). While Semtech’s LoRa technology has an early leadership position in this domain, NB-IOT (Narrowband IoT) is also rapidly gaining traction as a powerful LPWAN standard (this January, a commercial NB-IOT network was launched in Spain by Vodafone). Let us here do a point-by-point LoRa vs NB-IOT analysis, and try to find which of these LPWAN protocols has more to offer:

  1. Nature

    While the terms ‘LoRa’ and ‘LoRaWAN’ are often used synonymously, the two refer to different things. The latter is the LPWAN protocol standard that stays in operation in a LoRa technology environment. Taken by itself, LoRa is a type of modulation for IoT communications. NB-IOT, on the other hand, was standardized in mid-2016 by 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project). It is a ‘clean sheet initiative’ for devices with low data rates. NB-IOT can be implemented in a standalone or in an ‘in-band spectrum’ manner. There are two major variants of this specification – one released by Nokia, Ericsson & Intel, and the other by Vodafone & Huawei. In a nutshell, NB-IOT is a cellular standard, while LoRa is not.

  2. Bandwidth support

    NB-IOT typically works on a slightly higher bandwidth than LoRaWAN. The signal bandwidth requirement for the 3GPP technology is 180 KHz – a couple of levels higher than the 125 KHz support offered by Semtech’s LoRa technology. Interestingly, the signal bandwidth of both NB-IOT and LoRa are significantly higher than that of Sigfox (another popular LPWAN standard) – which operates at 0.1 KHz.

  3. Need for gateways

    LoRa needs dedicated gateways for functioning, while NB-IOT eliminates the need for the same. According to a senior official from Huawei, the NB-IOT infrastructure is set up by connecting the base stations with the sensors directly (the same thing is done in the LoRa architecture through gateways). While the LoRa gateways currently available are powerful and, more often than not, competitively priced, they are additional pieces of hardware that have to be managed – and hence, can be a potentially extra hassle. In NB-IOT, these are simply not required.

Note: In an earlier post, we mentioned some high-end LoRa gateways and concentrators. You can check it out here.

  1. Frequency spectrums required

    The LoRa IoT technology works on an unlicensed spectrum (Sigfox does the same). Applications powered by LoRaWAN, hence, have minimal costs – while battery performance receives a boost (more on this later). Unlike the asynchronous protocol of LoRa, NB-IOT services are synchronized and they are provided over licensed frequency bands (both LoRa and NB-IOT use frequency bands lower than 1GHz). Now, the costs for frequency band licensing is not insignificant – with the per-MHz cost being >$500. Telecom operators have the option of deploying NB-IOT in guard bands, in 4G LTE spectrums, and of course, in a standalone network.

  2. Ecosystem

    The LoRa ecosystem is way stronger than that of NB-IOT and the other cellular IoT communication standards. The former has already been adopted as the IoT network standard in many countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and the Netherlands (LoRa is buzzing in India too). In comparison, NB-IOT is a ‘new player’, having made its commercial debut in early-2017 in Spain (Ireland is also set to have its NB-IOT network). The low-cost, high-range, multi-functional LoRa technology has the edge when it comes to a settled ecosystem and community support – but over the next few years, NB-IOT will have plenty of opportunities to catch up.

  3. Suitability for different types of applications

    Although the LoRa vs NB-IOT debate has generated a lot of hype, it is interesting to note that the two technologies are optimized for different types of final applications. For instance, LoRaWAN is deemed ideal for apps/devices that have non-frequent communication requirements (say, a couple of times in a day), and have to deliver top-notch battery lives at very low costs. In comparison, the NB-IOT specification works best for applications that need to have minimal latency and are required to communicate more frequently. Both the IoT protocols have their very own unique value propositions – and each has use cases which cannot be served by the other.

  4. Customer profiles

    Leading telecom operators, from different parts of the world, are the main customers for IoT/M2M communication standards like LoRa, NB-IOT and Sigfox (SK Telecom deployed LoRAWAN for establishing IoT network in South Korea last year). However, the LoRa technology can be used by non-telecom operators as well – something that NB-IOT cannot boast of. Networking initiatives that are crowd-sourced can easily access and implement LoRa based IoT solutions (The Things Network already does this). The usability of NB-IOT is still somewhat limited.

  5. Network coverage

    Long-distance coverage is a shared USP of both NB-IOT and LoRa – and the former is apparently more powerful in this context. Its coverage can extend to 18-21 kilometers – higher than the 12-15 kilometers coverage delivered by LoRa. However, a closer look at this brings to light an interesting fact: NB-IOT works best in sophisticated urban locations, and its performance is not up to the mark in suburban or rural areas (practically any place that does not have strong, glitch-free 4G coverage). Since LoRaWAN does not rely on cellular data or wifi for functioning, its coverage remains relatively steady across all types of locations.

Note: The LoRa base stations can be built at a fraction of the cost associated with the 4G-LTE base stations necessary for the deployment of NB-IOT. The lower investments required for LoRa works in its favour in a big way.

  1. Battery performance

    This one also goes in favour of LoRaWAN. Since NB-IOT works on a cellular, licensed spectrum, the devices have to be synced with the network at regular (and relatively frequent) intervals. This, in turn, eats up some battery juice. No such network synchronization is required in the ALOHA-based LoRa architecture. In the asynchronous bands used for LoRa, the precise nature of the end-application determines how long a device can ‘sleep’ – and hence, battery can be easily conserved. The linear transmitters in NB-IOT, with higher ‘peak current orders’, also put additional pressure on batteries, unlike LoRa (which has non-linear modulations).

  2. Data rates

    NB-IOT more or less blows LoRa out of the park in this regard. The average data rate in a narrow band setup is 200 Kbps, about 20X of the data rates at which LoRa tools operate. The higher data rates of NB-IOT make them ideal for implementation in applications that require quicker data throughputs. The LoRa technology does what it is meant to do well enough – but NB-IOT is easily the more efficient IoT protocol for ‘faster’ applications.

Note: Sigfox, the other LPWAN technology, offers a data rate of 100 bps – much lower than both NB-IOT and LoRa.

   11. Operability in private networks

The LoRaWAN technology market is in its early stage of maturity, and has found widespread acceptance in public networks. It has already been deployed for the creation of ‘smart cities’ – at various places across the globe. While NB-IOT also works like a charm in the public domain, it cannot be used by private enterprises in their proprietary networks – like LoRa can be. Large businesses can easily create hybrid IoT models with LoRa to create ‘smart facilities’, and simultaneously use the public network for off-facility information and activities. NB-IOT can be used in public models only.

  12. The cost factor

LPWAN protocols can be as powerful as they want – but unless they are low-cost as well, they cannot be viable IoT solutions. LoRa holds the aces regarding this. The overall cost of LoRaWAN modules hovers around $8-10 – about half the price of cellular LTE modules like NB-IOT. The greater complexity of the NB-IOT network, the IP-royalty related issues (since it works on licensed bands), and the higher silicon area required combine to push up the total NB-IOT costs. What’s more – upgrading to advanced 4G/LTE base stations (in NB-IOT) is a much more expensive affair than deployments through industrial gateways or tower-top gateways (LoRa). As more integrations happen and markets get more mature, the costs of LoRa technology are expected to go down further.

As is evident from our analysis, it is difficult to pick a clear winner in the LoRa vs NB-IOT tussle. Both have their individual high points and shortcomings – and thanks to their technological differences and capabilities, they can easily co-exist – catering to different segments of the global IoT markets. Scalability remains a challenge for both technologies, and it will be interesting to note whether any of the two does manage to become the undisputed leader of the LPWAN market over the long-run.

 

Building Smart Cities With LoRa Technology: 15 Applications

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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With IoT technologies getting more and more refined, interest in the creation of ‘smart cities’ – where practically all important activities are digitally monitored and everything is connected – is in overdrive. It is expected that the worldwide smart cities market will keep growing at a CAGR of close to 20% over the next decade or so – jumping up to $1 trillion by 2019, and a stunning $3.49 trillion by 2026 (the market size, at present, is a tick over $621 billion). Semtech’s LoRa technology, along with 5G cellular connectivity and LiFi (light fidelity), are driving this global digital revolution – with LoRa being recently adapted as the IoT network in Australia and New Zealand. Over here, we will deliberate on a few interesting adaptations of the LoRa technology in smart cities:

  1. Traffic lights management

    Traffic lights, monitored from control rooms, are critical for ensuring a smooth, safe flow of traffic round the clock. Strategically placed devices with LoRa sensors can detect lights that are not functioning correctly and/or have blown fuses. In addition, a LoRaWAN tool can also send real-time notifications to municipal authorities – as and when changes/repairs in a traffic light stand are required. With properly implemented LoRa IoT support, traffic in smart cities will be expertly managed on a 24×7 basis, with minimal chances of congestions or accidents.

  2. Autonomous cars

    The much-hyped Apple Car won’t make an appearance any time before 2019 – but LoRa technology will steadily pave the way for driverless cars in smart cities over the next half a decade or so. These ‘autonomous vehicles’ will be able to commute on their own, picking up rides and completing deliveries. The sensors would also help in the integration of robust anti-theft features in these self-driving smart cars. The vehicles can also double up as shuttle cabs for daily commuters. Everything will be remotely manageable by the car owners.

  3. Smart water meters

    From the USA and the UK, to India, Nepal and Bangladesh – every country is likely to witness worrying declines in their overall per capita water availability levels. The steady increase in human footprint over the ecology is the direct reason for this, and recent researches have found that – in many cities, 10%-15% of the total water reserves is lost due to faulty, outdated infrastructure. Sensors/devices with the long-range LoRa chips can tackle this problem, by detecting leakages and overflows, and notifying the authorities about the necessary repairs. Management of such smart water meters and leak detectors typically require low levels of data transmission over long distances – making LoRa the ideal IoT technology for building them.

  4. Public lighting

    In a bid to cut down on energy wastages, greenhouse gas emissions and, of course, expenses – the authorities are placing LED bulbs in streetlights. LoRa technology can be utilized for the management of these smart public lighting networks. The lights will be regularly checked, and whenever a bulb change is required, the authorities are going to be informed about the same. In addition, smart lights powered by LPWAN can enhance safety considerations as well – by relaying information/scenes of road accidents/roadblocks to nearby locations. To cover an entire city, only a few transceivers and base stations will be required.

  5. City drones

    In a truly smart city, drones can be put to multifarious uses. Armed with LoRa chips, these drones can capture high-definition aerial photographs, help in precision farming, bolster the law enforcement systems, and even help in fire protection. According to experts from the field of IoT software development, drones can be used to deliver packages as well (this is likely to be a thing in the foreseeable future). By 2025, several cities will have drones functioning for public utility as well as commercial purposes.

  6. Smart parking

    The number of on-road vehicles in posh city areas is increasing all the time – and public parking areas cannot possibly keep up pace with this growth. It has been found that over 40% of total traffic congestions in cities are caused by drivers looking for safe, convenient parking spaces. High-range, low-power sensors can go a long way in tackling this issue – by ensuring optimal utilization of municipal parking lots and areas. App developers can also come up with new-age mobile applications that notify users about available parking spot(s) nearby.

  7. Energy and pollution meters

    Contrary to doomsday critics, technical advancements in cities need not come at the expense of rapidly rising environmental pollution. LoRa tools can play its part in maintaining the ecological balance – with smartly placed sensors informing the concerned officials about the pollution metrics in the locality. In the vicinity of power plants and heavy industries, these devices can track the overall consumption/wastage of environmental energy as well. With proper implementation of IoT, a city can be smarter, cleaner AND greener!

  8. Waste bin management

    Using resources to clean up a half-filled waste bin is unnecessary – particularly so when other bins in the city might be overflowing. When it comes to proper waste management, most cities do not have a detailed, digitized structure – and Semtech’s LoRa can help out in this regard. Smart ‘fill-level sensors’ can be fitted in public waste bins – which would detect when the bins are full and need to be emptied. What’s more, these sensors can also collect data on the type of waste being disposed off by the public.

  9. Construction and predictive maintenance

    City authorities across the world are struggling to preserve the age-old historical monuments and artifacts. Instances of bridge collapses and building damages are not uncommon either. It is also important to constantly track the quality and status of ongoing constructions – to avoid potential hazards in future. Specialized smart devices with LoRa chipsets can offer predictive maintenance solutions, by monitoring vibrations and other key parameters of buildings/bridges/monuments. As and when a damage is detected, the city authorities will be informed about the same. That, in turn, would ensure that disasters are always kept at an arm’s length.

Note: For integration of smoke alarm systems of buildings, remote opening/closing of doors and windows, and managing the temperature, LoRa technology can be extensively used.

    10. Smart freight and inventory management

LoRa-powered sensors can be a handy addition in smart inventory systems (i.e., in the freight trucks and the ports between which they carry the inventory). The sensors would relay regular, updated information on the location of the freight vehicles and the status of the inventories. What’s more, these high-range sensors can also notify the operators as and when running repairs and other maintenance work have to be done on the freight vehicles.

    11. Body camera systems

City officials, at any time, might need to know about the communication that takes place between the public law enforcers (traffic police, coast guards, etc) and the general public. Unfortunately, these records are often not available. There is an opportunity to resolve this problem, by designing smart body cameras (with LoRa sensor chips) and fitting them on to the uniforms of the concerned duty officers. These cameras will provide clear, impartial evidence about all conversations with the public that take place during a day.

   12. Fire detection systems and alarms

There are certain locations in any city – like areas with dense vegetation, parks, amusement zones, etc – that are more prone to fire hazards. Placing fire alarms and sensors powered by LoRa technology in such areas makes a lot of sense, from the safety perspective. In case of any emergency, notifications can be swiftly sent to the local fire departments – to provide relief and limit the extent of damages. Alarms can also be triggered by smokes emanating from buildings nearby.

   13. Integration with wearable devices

For it to be of practical value, the IoT ecosystems in smart cities have to be closely-knit. The popularity of wearable devices is at an all-time high – with smartwatches, predictably, leading the way. In the US, around 49% people interact with their wearable(s) at least once everyday. In future, smart wearables can come with built-in LoRa detectors and communicators, making it easy for individuals to take an active part in the smart environment and activities/interactions around themselves. The concept of a smart city involves all its residents – and LoRa with wearable technology can be a key driver in that domain.

   14. Solar panel maintenance/upgradation

Advanced, smart cities need to take full advantage of renewable, alternative sources of energy (considering that the global coal reserves have started going down at an alarming rate). Solar energy, of course, is one of the best alternative energy sources – and solar panels are set up to tap and utilize this power. LoRa can come into use over here as well – for detecting whether the solar panels are working optimally and if there has been any breakdowns. Apart from maintenance, the sensors can also make real-time transmissions of the energy captured by the solar panel units.

   15. Round-the-clock surveillance

LoRa technology has the potential to give the regulatory authorities a 360-degree overview of cities. Experts advocate the use of high-end surveillance cameras with smart, high-range sensors – to track all possible cases of law violation, unauthorized access into restricted areas, personal safety and protection of belongings. Surveillance cameras with LoRa will, in particular, be extremely useful for ‘virtually manning’ remote places.

 

To qualify as a ‘smart city’, a place has to be habitable, be high on the sustainability front, and have timely, dependable digital solutions to support all major public activities and utilities. LPWAN tools in general, and the LoRa technology in particular, have enormous opportunities for implementation in such ‘connected ecosystems’ – thanks to their excellent coverage (10-15 kms) and battery performance (~10 years). In the US, several cities – like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago and Charlotte – are already on the IoT bandwagon for public services, Taiwan picked LoRa as its IoT network last August, and the LoRa protocols are functional in multiple Indian cities. The world is becoming increasingly ‘connected’ – and LoRa is right at the forefront of this revolution!

10+1 LoRa Gateways You Should Know About

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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List of LoRa gateways

 

The LoRa technology infrastructure (the protocol being LoRaWAN) is typically laid out in the form of a star-of-stars topology. Apart from the final application – which would work in low frequency bands and deliver wide coverage – the framework also requires a robust network service and glitch-free firmware. On the hardware front, two elements make up the core of the LoRa setup – the device which has the actual chip, and the gateways. The function of the latter is ensuring smooth, lossless communication between the centralized network server (backend) and the LoRa-powered device(s). Data packets are scanned and captured by the gateways, and are then forwarded to the servers for further processing/handling. Over here, we will do a roundup of the best LoRa gateways:

  1. LL-BST-8 LoRa Gateway

    Powered by a powerful SX1301 mini-PCIe board (single computer board), this multi-featured gateway has a spacious 2GB RAM space for fast functionality and a gigabit ethernet setup. The built-in SSD disk and the advanced processor (800 MHz) bolster the performance of the LL-BST-8. The gateway also offers top-notch reliability – thanks to its AMD x64 architecture. It is mostly user-friendly, and facilitates quick and responsive M2M learning.

  2. Raspberry Pi (with Semtech sx1301_ref design board)

    To set up this popular LoRa gateway, a customized Semtech SX1301 concentrator board is attached to a series of single-board computers (a Raspberry Pi series). GPS/Geolocation is supported with the help of external accessories on this gateway, which can be used on three different frequency levels (433MHz, 868MHz and 902-908MHz). Ethernet is natively in-built within the gateway, while 3G and wifi connectivity can be added with plugins. The gateway BUS includes both SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) and USB.

  3. Cisco IR 910

    This one operates as a powerful industrial router with a host of configuration options (including outdoor configuration and support for wifi and 3G cellular networks). A pre-tested daughterboard, working on the LoRaWAN protocol, is attached to the Cisco IR 910 – and this gateway also has multi-frequency compatibility. At a price tag upwards of $1500, this one is among the most expensive LoRa gateways out there – but the router does come with an excellent range of features and high-performance assurance.

  4. Kerlink IoT Station

    The SPI-BUS Kerlink LoRa router supports both ethernet and 3G connections and has a convenient outdoor configuration option. Two variants (27dBm and lower) are supported on this gateway. It also has native support for GPS-related services. The IoT station ranks high on the reliability count, and can be used for establishing practically all types of LoRa-based IoT connections.

  5. OpenWrt (with LoRa mCard)

    A Multitech LoRa mCard is used with the OpenWrt hardware to create this gateway. A separate radio adapter is required on the platform, on which ethernet connectivity is available (with options of 3G and Wifi being added through external accessories).  All OpenWrt tools working with the Atheros MCU are supported on the gateway – which, interestingly, cannot be used on the 433MHz frequency band (868MHz and 902-908MHz are supported). The BUS type for this gateway is USB, and there is a customized platform for the European and the North American versions of the LoRa mCard.

  6. Toti-LoRa-pico

    This one is also based on the Raspberry Pi framework of single-board computers and offers maximum utilities as a personalized M2M base station. The gateway requires low levels of maintenance and investment – delivering great value to users setting up a LPWAN network with LoRa. The Toti-LoRa-pico tool has complete compatibility with the Raspberry Pi software system and is – under most circumstances – fast and dependable. This gateway has been designed by CALAO Systems.

  7. Lorrier LR2

    The Lorrier LR2 is an optimized LoRa concentrator working with SPI BUS architecture. Outdoor configuration is supported, and the gateway works only on the 868MHz frequency band. The features of this gateway can be extended to include GPS, with the help of third-party accessories. No additional expenses for radio are required on this concentrator tool – and establishing new connections with the LR2 is relatively straightforward.

  8. Multitech Conduit (with LoRa mCard)

    A single box in this high-end indoor LoRa gateway houses a couple of concentrator cards (SX1301). Outdoor setup is available through external plugins. 3G connectivity is available as a configuration option and wifi can be added on to the hardware – which, obviously, comes with powerful built-in ethernet (at $449, the 3G-enabled version of Multitech Conduit is slightly pricier than the only ethernet-enabled version). The gateway ensures smooth communication via data packets on 868MHz and 902-908MHz bands.

  9. Raspberry Pi (with IMST iC880A)

    Just like the Raspberry Pi gateway with Semtech sx1301 design board, this one also supports both USB and SPI BUS modules. The hardware gains additional juice from the external LoRa concentrator – the IMST iC880A – attached to it. Depending on the function requirements, GPS feature can be added to this gateway as well. The single-board computer based gateway is operable on the 868MHz frequency spectrum.

  10. OpenWrt MultiTech (with IMST iC880A)

    Unlike the Raspberry Pi variant, this gateway works only with USB BUS…but most of the other features are comparable. Only ethernet is embedded within the hardware, while wifi and cellular data connectivity can be added on later. The price of this OpenWrt LoRa gateway is 199 Euros (the same as the USB-version of the Raspberry Pi gateway discussed in the previous point). With accessories, geolocation can be included in this gateway too.

(Bonus) LORANK 8

A powerful LoRa concentrator tool, with top-notch ethernet capabilities. The LORANK 8 tool is priced at 412 Euros, and can be used in the 868MHz frequency band. Outdoor configuration is possible and the gateway is created to work with the SPI BUS architecture.

ExpEmb is another fairly low-investment LoRa connection gateway, with SPI BUS and outdoor configuration option. Using a reliable, high-quality, customizable and responsive gateway is critical to the overall efficacy of a LoRa network – and all the hardware tools listed here promise optimal performance in that regard.

 

LoRa & IoT: Growth Prospects & Opportunities For 2017 and Beyond

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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iot and lora technology

 

We are moving towards a more ‘connected world’ – there are no two ways about it. Interest in the ‘Internet of Things’ (more like the ‘Internet of Everything’!) is at an all-time high – and it is not limited to only home automation and connected/autonomous cars either. According to a recent McKinsey report, the overall value of the smart cities industry will touch the $400 billion mark by the end of this decade, driven by steadily increasing mass adaptation of IoT practices. The importance of Semtech’s proprietary LoRa technology (Low power, high Range) – often dubbed as the next-gen wireless standard for IoT deployment – comes into the picture here. In what follows, we will take a look at the latest trends with LoRa & IoT, and how the technology is expected to grow in the foreseeable future:

  1. Worldwide adaptation

    Although it is still at a relatively nascent stage, LoRa Wide Area Networks (LoRaWAN) has already found widespread acceptance among telecom companies and smart service providers across the globe. LoRaWAN networks are currently in operation in 50+ countries – with the number going up every quarter. The latest in this line is Australia, where LoRa was officially chosen as the country’s very first IoT network (in late-January). Over the next five years or so, more countries – including the not-so-advanced nations – will switch over to the LoRa technology, thanks to its manifold advantages.

  2. Dominance in the wireless technology segment

    By 2020, it has been estimated that close to 1.6 billion smart devices will be powered by the LPWAN technology. The nature of these devices will be varied, including transceivers, actuators, wireless sensors, trackers, and other advanced tools that would be useful in smart cities in particular, and an overall smart environment in general. This, in turn, opens up significant growth prospects for LoRa (along with other technologies like Sigfox, and 3GPP solutions like NB-IoT). Close to 150 new IoT metering/tracking equipments for smart cities will be set up with the LoRa devices. It can be safely said that, without the arrival of LoRaWAN, this progress would not have been possible.

  3. Lower costs; unprecedented battery performance

    These two factors should emerge as the main drivers of the LoRa technology in a big way. Built with the ‘chirp-based spectrum’ designed by Semtech, LoRa offers seamless bidirectional communication (with most of its rivals offering only the regular unidirectional support). Since only unlicensed, low-frequency bands are used, the coverage remains excellent – while the costs are minimal. What’s more, devices with LoRa chipsets typically offer 8-10 years of battery life, with the power requirements being very low (say, weather tracking a couple of times in a day).

Note: The actual frequencies used by LoRa varies across regions. In North America, the protocol uses 915 MHz for operations, Europe goes with 868 MHz, while the technology uses a very low 433 MHz frequency band in Asia.

  1. Spike in market value

    At the end of last year, the worldwide market value of the LPWAN industry (LoRa, Sigfox and LTE-NB1) stood at just a tick over $1 billion. This figure will jump to a whopping $24.5 billion by December 2021 – at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 89%. Experts from the software development and IoT domains expect that the total count of LPWAN-powered IoT tools will exceed 700 million by that time (as reported by Business Intelligence (BI)). In comparison, the growth in short-range technologies like Zigbee and wifi will be modest – and will reach 72% by 2025, less than 2% increase over their current penetration rate. Consumer electronics, where LPWAN finds least usage, will remain the main driver of short-range technologies.

  2. Ease of ensuring countrywide coverage

    Around 250 LoRa base stations are enough to cover the entire country of Switzerland. For Netherlands, approximately 500 such base stations are required. The LoRa technology – announced at 2015’s Mobile World Congress – has come a long way since the release of its first version (v.1.0) in June 2015 (network tests have been conducted in 60+ countries). As the requirement for setting up base stations/units is on the lower side, the cost for telecom companies (for deploying LoRa in smart cities) remains manageable. What’s more, LoRaWAN can be integrated in both private (with 100+ sensors) as well as public networks – delivering hybrid capabilities.

  3. Growth in the LoRa Alliance

    Earlier this month, Wipro became the newest member of the LoRa alliance. From the time of its start back in 2015 (with 20 members, including Semtech, Cisco, IBM, etc.), the size of the alliance has grown at a rapid clip – and at present, it has over 400 members. The companies in the LoRa alliance are classified under different categories – ‘Sponsor Members’, ‘Institutional Members’, ‘Adopter Members’ and ‘Contributor Members’. The alliance operates as a non-profit organization, and is in charge of driving the LoRaWAN technology into newer markets and for innovative IoT-related practices. Within the next couple of years or so, several more companies (including major national telecom players) will join the LoRa alliance – swelling its size further.

  4. Moving beyond IoT bottlenecks

    Cisco predicts that there will be 50 billion connected devices by the end of 2020 (nearly double of the 28.4 billion figure estimated for 2017). While there are no doubts over the rapid proliferation of the ‘Internet of Things’, there are a few limitations – encryption standards, network capacities, device/battery capabilities, etc. – that do appear as potential inhibitors. However, as LoRa technology grows in popularity and becomes more polished, these problems will recede to the background. Both network performance and battery capabilities are boosted by the LoRaWAN protocol – thanks to the adaptive data rate algorithm of the latter. Data can be broadcasted with the help of the bidirectional functionality of LoRa – and encryption (128 AES encryption) is available at three different levels (application, network, device). A fast, reliable, secure and cheap wireless standard for IoT – that’s what LoRa has the potential to become.

Note: Yet another high point of LoRaWAN is the high number of nodes (running into millions) that can be supported by each gateway. Building up a LoRa infrastructure from scratch is inexpensive and can be done quickly – and impressive distances can be covered by individual signals.

  1. Cost advantage over cellular networks

    With a range of close to 10 kilometers in urban areas (shooting up to well over 30 kilometers in suburban/rural locations) – there is clear daylight between the coverage capacities of LoRa and other cellular networks. The technology is built in a ‘star-on-star topology’ (instead of the traditional mesh infrastructure) – and offers around 10 times more utility over its lifetime as well. The cost advantages of LoRa are also remarkable: in a recent study, it was found that cellular networks for machine-to-machine (M2M) operations have an annual price of $25-$30. The corresponding figure for the unlicensed LoRaWAN frequency bands, on the other hand, hover around the $10 mark (also lower than the $15-$20/year cost for NB-IoT). Not surprisingly, this has put LoRa at a significant competitive advantage – and helped it capture a much higher market share.

  2. Application in various fields

    LoRa is not the best fit for consumer-IoT, where wifi, cellular data, and to a lesser extent, Bluetooth, will remain the most-used technologies. However, for managing mass operations and tasks for creating smart cities – Semtech’s platform is among the most ideal alternatives. Right from smart parking, management of public utilities, petcare and monitoring smart street lights, to smart waste management/disposal, pollution control and energy-saving, agriculture, health and predictive disaster management (e.g., regular tracking of the condition of a bridge, to detect probable damages) – LoRa finds acceptance in a wide range of activity domains and applications. SK Telecom – a leading South Korean telecom operator – released a commercial LoRaWAN network in July last year, with a view to cover 99% of the national population. In the near future, most things related to smart cities IoT will be running on LPWAN (LoRa and Sigfox) – that’s for sure.

  3. The bandwidth factor

    The LoRa technology is never going to be good (read: fast) enough for casual web browsing or playing online games…anything that requires a high bandwidth. However, the network does what it is meant to do perfectly well – with the maximum bandwidth 32 kb/s being more than adequate for receiving/transmitting/broadcasting data to and from sensors at prespecified time intervals. To put things in perspective, short-range technologies like Zigbee and wifi are not strong enough (in terms of coverage) for this purpose. Semtech’s LoRa targets a separate, niche segment of the overall IoT market – and it delivers what it promises.

  4. Rise in the number of IoT connections

    We have already highlighted the expected surge in the number of ‘connected devices’ over the next 3-4 years. On a more micro-level, the volume of IoT connections worldwide is also expected to expand at exponential rates. Between 2015 and 2025, there will be a 350% increase in the number of IoT connections (6 billion vs 27 billion). Around 28% of these – coming to 7.5 million – will be high-range, and the rest will be supported by low-range technologies. Industry experts opine that by 2025, 4 out of every 10 long-range IoT connections will be powered by LPWAN, with LoRa leading the way.

  5. Overcoming the growth constraints

    While the benefits of adopting the LoRa technology for IoT are pretty much evident, there are a fair few challenges that have to be considered too. For starters, there is a dearth of qualified experts with experience in LPWAN IoT platforms. Chalking up the technical specifications of projects can be tricky – since there might remain gaps in understanding how LoRa is to be implemented, and what the objective(s) of the IoT operation would be. The rather high price tags of sensors ($15-25) – integral to LoRa deployment – must not be lost sight of either. With greater awareness, more dedicated training by specialists, and continued support from major telecom players – LoRa is expected to resolve these issues and continue to grow.

As per an October 2016 report by ON World, the LPWAN services market will also witness manifold growth in the next half a decade, reaching up to $75 billion by the end of 2025. LoRa networks already have a strong presence in European countries like Netherlands, France and Belgium – and the technology is steadily making its way into the markets of Germany, Czech Republic, Italy and Denmark. In India, Tata Communications will collaborate with HPE to create the largest IoT network in the world. The development and implementations of LoRa technology have already been exciting – and there are plenty of scopes for the technology to grow bigger in future.

[Guest Post] Benefits and Trends of Technology in Education

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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(This post has been contributed by Pooja Jain, representing BYJU’s – The Learning App)

 

Considering the rampant rate at which technology is developing and transforming almost every aspect of our lives, whether it is socialising, business, education or learning, it’s safe to say that the best is yet to come when it comes to integrating this technology into the everyday lives of the people.

Technology is not just changing industries and corporates but also the world of education. There is substantial growth in usage of modern technology in educational institutions as they continue to invest heavily in this medium to make courses more accessible and enhance learning. There is a vast number of technological innovations related to education which are subsequently improving the online education sector as well as pushing the boundaries of innovations.

Technology can have coordinative effect in the way of learning and teaching and the emergence of it can push educators to leverage and understand these technologies to be used in classrooms. While educators have come across several new technological methods of teaching, implementing them in reality has been far off.

Educators have been looking for a solid medium that can be permanently implanted into their curriculum so that they can introduce new ways of learning to their students. But several other educators disagree to this new method, claiming that the traditional methods have a broader and stronger effect on the way students learn.

Technology always remains at the forefront of the social education. It is pushing the capabilities of learning and the school system to new levels. All this is mainly possible with the implementation of some of the new tools and methods.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of implementing technology into education.

Benefits of Education in Technology

Technology is said to be future oriented, and nowadays everything is digital. So, education cannot lag behind. It makes learning more fun and exciting to students. Yes, the interactive teaching and learning methods of education technology challenges and engages students with brand new adaptive methods.

Technology improves the skills of students. The improvement of technology is said to benefit the student in improving digital learning, communication, collaboration, listening skills, mobile learning, planning, valuing diversity, problem-solving skills, math skills self-evaluation skills, global awareness, social skills and also in presentations.

Students with Special Needs

There are several advantages of introducing technology into education namely students with special needs. Children with Dyslexia and several other learning disorders have significantly improved their ability to read after being introduced to a computer remediation programme.

At-Risk Students

Students with a disruptive or violent nature have reportedly shown more engagement and cooperation when they used technology to learn. Engagement leads to learning and learning leads to a better attitude in the future.

Prepares Students for the Future

It is vital that we prepare for the rapidly advancing future as students will require to have specific skills related to technology including the ability to use word processors, spreadsheets, databases, etc. By working advanced technology at this stage, students can be prepared to operate in high-tech workplace and society where technical skills will not be enough.

Educational Technology Trends

The schools of the future generation may have the traditional units of students. Some of the changes have already taken wings with the exposure of education apps, mobile learning sources or, say, e-learning programs.

Mobile Learning

We are living in a world where mobile devices have become a part of everyday life. This is possibly the best way to promote technology in education by creating educational programmes and online platforms that are accessible on mobiles.

Virtual Reality

This is one of the whole new technologies in the education system. And also the implications of this technology are known to be enormous. The Virtual Reality technique is the implementation of the three-dimensional way of learning in the classrooms. It consists of a device which enables a student to visualize the topics and images in a three-dimensional arena like for example, a visual representation of a perimeter of triangle.

The motion and the pressure sensors incorporated within these VR and AR devices make them more relevant for activity-based learning. It is also known as virtual-based learning.

Biometrics

Biometric technology is used to recognize the humans based on specific behavioral or the physical traits. In the coming future, this kind of technology can help the intelligent software to understand the emotional and physical state of children while learning in the classroom.

Digitalization of Classrooms

The classrooms are going digital these days. The old blackboard way of learning is fading away. This change is due to the implementation of new equipments and tools like interactive whiteboards, educational games, digital projectors, video-based lessons, open courseware and e-learning.

3D Printing Technology

This technology allows the students in transferring the digital information into a reality. At a point, the 3D labs are going to be created in the same way as that of the computer labs are like today. The 3D Printing technology will provide students an eye on detail into the digital world – which enhances them to users to build logic modules or the programs.

 

MWC 2017: Looking Back At The 12 Biggest Announcements

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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MWC 2017 highlights

 

2300+ exhibitors. 108000+ attendees from 108 different countries. These numbers alone provide ample evidence of the success of this year’s Mobile World Congress, held from February 27 to March 2 at Barcelona, Spain. The event featured as many as 11 keynote sessions, and drew in active participation from experts from the various domains of the mobile ecosystem, along with other related industries. As is the case every year, MWC 2017 also witnessed the launch of a series of new smartphones, devices and technologies. Over here, we will look back at some of the biggest announcements made at this year’s MWC:

  1. Huawei P10/P10 Plus

    Huawei has its very own annual launch event, during which the company’s new flagship devices are generally pushed out. However, an exception was made this year – with Huawei announcing the cutting-edge P10 and P10 Plus handsets at the MWC event. Both phones have the powerful dual camera, and boast of advanced graphical display features. The Kirin 960 octa-core processor ensures superior performance of the P10/P10 Plus. With thicknesses of 5.1” and 5.5”, the devices are relatively slim as well.

  2. Samsung Tab S3

    The South Korean smartphone manufacturer had already mentioned that the Galaxy S8/S8 Edge won’t make an appearance at MWC 2017. However, mobile app developers and software experts at the event had expected Samsung to come up with other new launches – and the company did not disappoint on that count. The Tab S3 Android tablet was launched, and it captured the attention of all the attendees. The breakthrough feature of this AMOLED HDR tablet has to be the 4 AKG speakers – for enhanced audio capabilities. Early reports have also confirmed that the audio output will vary with the orientation of the device (portrait vs landscape).

  3. LG G6

    Modular phones are well on their way out, as was confirmed by one of the early releases at MWC 2017 – the smartly crafted LG G6. The design features of the handset have undergone a complete overhaul, with the battery being attached with the chassis (the 3300 mAh battery promises better backup) – and the 5.7” screen comes with QHD+ FullVision HDR display. The 32 GB storage is an excellent feature too – but what really takes the cake is the pair of 13MP cameras on the front and the back. Powered by the Snapdragon 821 chip, the LG G6 should emerge a winner.

  4. Blackberry KeyOne

    This year’s Mobile World Congress also saw Blackberry mount its latest attempt for a comeback in the smartphone market – with BB KeyOne. The Android phone – which has the good ol’ physical keyboard (a signature of Blackberry) – is designed by TCL Communications (China). KeyOne also has touchscreen features, and a more-than-decent 12MP rear camera.  The ‘quick charging technology’ of Blackberry KeyOne allows the phone to go up from 0% to 50% charge in only 36 minutes. At 4.5”, the screen size remains the main point of concern for this handset – particularly at a time when Apple and Samsung are both considering the removal of bezels for more display area.

  5. Nokia 3310

    Whether it would indeed be a practical handset or a mere trip down nostalgia lane – the re-launch of the classic Nokia 3310 has met with widespread interest and anticipation from people across the globe. The new avatar of the handset is slimmer than its predecessor and will be available in full colour gloss (yellow, red) and matte (grey, blue) finishes. The built-in camera of the phone is of 2MP, and display screen is 2.4”. For a feature phone that does not even have 3G connectivity (2.5 G, or EDGE connectivity is available), the excitement around Nokia 3310 is incredible. HMD Global also used the MWC platform to announce three new budget Android phones – Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6.

  6. Sony Xperia XZ Premium

    As was the pre-event buzz among hardware and mobile app development experts, Sony launched a new flagship phone – the Xperia XZ Premium – at MWC 2017. The handset is the very first to come with a full 4K HDR display (Sony had similarly pushed the envelope with Xperia Z5, the world’s first 4K resolution smartphone). The revolutionary ‘Motion Eye’ camera of this 5.5” handset is of 19 MP – and it offers an impressive 64 GB of storage space, to go with the 4GB RAM. The quality of the processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 835) delivers speed and performance assurances. The XZ Premium and the XZs also allow 720p video recording at 960fps – another first among smartphones.

  7. Moto G5

    The 5” full-HD Moto G5 looks to consolidate the hold of Motorola (now under Lenovo) in the budget-end of the global smartphone market. The brand-new handset comes with a metal finish for a more premium feel and is powered by Android Nougat. The 5MP selfie camera and the 13MP rear camera are both powerful, and the G5 draws its performance from the built-in Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chip. The 16 MB internal storage (with microSD slot) is serviceable, and the 2800 mAh battery should prove to be good enough. The Moto G5 Plus was also launched alongside Moto G5 at the event.

  8. Porsche Design Book One

    If most of the above announcements were as per the expectations of app makers and general tech enthusiasts, this one was certainly a surprise. The very first Porsche Design computer – the Book One – was launched at MWC 2017 amid much fanfare. Powered by Intel Core i7, the Windows two-in-one computer promises a range of excellent features – right from detachability for tablet-like display, to all-round flexibility and easy interactions with the attached pen. The Porsche Design Book One will be a pricey device – but its features might make this computer worth the tag.

  9. Ford 4G modems

    At this year’s Mobile World Congress, there was movement on the ‘connected cars’ domain as well – with Ford announcing its collaboration with Vodafone for the launch of high-tech 4G modems for its vehicles (in Europe only). As many as 10 separate devices can be connected with the 4G LTE modems – which might just trump wifi in terms of speed and performance. Ford is looking to test the in-car modems in Germany, Spain, Italy and France to start with – before eyeing a wider release.

  10. Lenovo Yoga 520

    The Porsche Design Book One might have powerful features – but it already has strong competition in the form of Lenovo Yoga 520, also announced at the MWC 2017. This two-in-one convertible laptop also comes with a pen for users (‘Lenovo Active Pen’) and has a 14” HD display with NVIDIA GeForce 940 MX graphics processing unit. The highly-responsive fingerprint scanner for Windows Hello and the Harman Speakers add to the appeal of the Yoga 520. With 1TB HDD and 16GB RAM, this offering from Lenovo is expected to have many takers.

  11. ZTE Gigabit

    Touted as the ‘world’s fastest smartphone’ by ZTE, the Gigabit takes download speeds on mobile devices on an altogether higher plane. Released as a prototype at this year’s MWC, the phone brings about downloads at an amazing 1Gb/s – nearly 10X the average download speeds on existing smartphones. The ZTE Gigabit is still a work in progress, but it certainly has shown the world that the company is set for the 5G revolution.

  12. Oppo digital camera zoom

    Oppo typically focuses on showcasing new mobile technologies – instead of actual handsets – at MWC events. Last year, it was all about the ‘Super VOOC’ fast charging tool…and this time, the attention shifted to digital zooming capabilities of mobile phone cameras. The company showed off loss-free 5X digital zooming technology (inspired from how periscopes work) – achieved by bringing down the overall size of the camera module, and adding on the features from the Oppo image fusion technology. Oppo smartphones have always had superior camera as their USP – and that is set to continue.

The 4-seater Instinct concept car – Peugeot’s ambitious autonomous vehicle – was also displayed at the MWC 2017. Huawei popped up with an Android Wear 2.0-powered smartwatch (Huawei Watch 2), virtual reality got a boost with the Samsung Gear VR Controller, Sony added the Xperia A1 and Xperia A1 Ultra to its new line of phones, and Google announced that the Google Assistant will be made available on all devices running on Android Marshmallow or Nougat. Moving slightly under the radar were a slew of more releases – the Gionee A1/A1 Plus, the Android One-powered GM 5 Plus from General Mobile, and the slightly odd-looking HiSense A2. MWC is billed as one of the biggest annual tech events in the world – and the 2017 edition indeed more than lived up to the hype!

 

 

5G: Are You Ready For The Next-Gen Mobile Network?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, 5G made a lot of news. In its bid to boost the speeds of existing smartphone networks, Qualcomm launched the all-new ‘5G modem family’. The world’s first-ever 5G wireless slicing router was showcased during the event by Huawei. Samsung, on its part, displayed an advanced home router – also operating at 5G speeds. There was a dedicated ‘5G Impact’ conference as well (on March 2). With the next-generation mobile network generating a lot of buzz and hype, we take a quick look at some fascinating facts about 5G:

  1. Faster downloads; lower latency

    If you thought 4G LTE was fast, the 5G network will be downright amazing. According to reports from trials performed by leading carriers, 5G can be close 100X faster than 4G speeds – with data downloads happening at a staggering 20Gb/s (maximum). The lowest 5G download speed should be around 5Gb/S. What’s more – the latency would also be minimal, coming in at around 1 millisecond or less. Things are about to get more responsive than ever.

  2. Moving towards a connected world

    Experts from the fields of software and app development have confirmed that 5G will contribute in a big way towards the growth of Internet of Things (IoT). Thanks to the extremely low latency, the next-gen network will be ideal for implementation in smart cars (perhaps even in the driverless cars?). 5G will also find rapid adoption in gadgets, platforms and smart hubs for ‘connected homes’. Gartner estimates that there will be close to 21 billion connected devices by 2020 – and 5G is going to be a key driver in this technology.

Note: With 5G, there will be rapid increases in the number of connected public utilities, infrastructure and general safety solutions as well.

     3. NFV and SDN

These are going to be important tools for facilitating smooth migration from the 4G to the 5G platforms. NFV, or Network Functions Virtualization, will also ensure high-end scalability of 5G networks. SDN, or Software-defined Networking, on the other hand, will support large bandwidths by creating ‘virtual slices’ or sub-networks. Superior scalability will be an important feature, as demands start to vary between high bandwidth requirements (say, video streaming on mobile) to lower bandwidth needs (say, on a smartwatch).

     4. Boost to VR and AR

At MWC 2017, Microsoft sent out invites to attendees to try out a new HoloLens headset – which took virtual reality (VR) to an altogether new level. Mobile app developers across the world expect the arrival of 5G to trigger the development of VR and AR (augmented reality) – with end-users getting enhanced, out-of-the-world displays. 3D game development is yet another field that would hugely benefit from the presence of improved VR tools. We can certainly look forward to more immersive app and gaming experiences in future.

     5. Quick movie downloads

On an optimally performing 4G LTE device, it takes around ten minutes to download a complete HD movie. For the same task, the required timeframe shrinks to 1-2 seconds (maybe less) on the 5G spectrum. The new OFDM encoding technology of 5G will allow networks to handle much larger volumes of data than ever before (with the help of new frequencies). App downloads, video streaming and media content loading will all be noticeably faster on 5G than on wifi or home broadband networks.

Note: There will be networks of ‘small cells’ – resembling wireless routers – for carrying the new 5G frequencies. The network will not depend on mobile towers.

  1. Better user-experience

    We have already pointed out that 5G will support data broadcasting in GBs/second (incidentally, 4G LTE can deliver download speeds of upto 1 GB/s). However, the next-generation mobile network will be a lot more than only faster downloads – with users being provided with superior connectivity, improved display resolutions, high-end interfaces for billing and round-the-clock availability (‘always on’). The connectivity speed can zoom up to as high as 25Mb/second. 5G will revolutionize the digital world, that’s for sure.

  2. 5G technologies

    For all the discussions and early trials, we are still a couple of years from the commercial launch of 5G networks. Even so, software and mobile app experts have started dropping hints about the advanced technologies that will power 5G. For starters, there will be Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) – pulling up the total number of ports in network base stations from 12 (for 4G) to >100 (for 5G) and delivering excellent network efficiencies. The ‘full duplex’ technology will allow transceivers to send out and receive data signals simultaneously – and that too, over the same frequency. Data broadcasting on 5G might take place via ‘Millimeter Waves’, which operate at much higher frequency levels (compared to present-day mobile radio waves). For identifying and using the best data-delivery route maps among alternatives, the ‘Beamforming’ (a traffic-signaling technique) technology would be implemented.

Note: The 5G base stations will have ‘Small Cells’, and they will be placed at intervals of 250-300 meters in ‘smart cities’.

  1. A feature-rich network

    As per rumors in online mobile forums and app development portals, 5G will pack in a host of powerful, built-in features. SON, or ‘self-organizing networks’, will render the task of radio accessing easier than ever (also, faster!). Throughput rates for users can be significantly enhanced with the ‘carrier aggregation’ feature – which also pushes up the overall capacities of the network. Service operators are also likely to find the ‘coordinated multipoint’ feature to be handy, since it allows transmission and quick processing of signals from multiple site sources. There will be a gamut of other features too in 5G, and most of these will be included in the LTE Advanced Pro platform.

  2. Working with files; making m-payments

    The average data download speed on 5G is expected to be around 40-50 times higher than on 4G (as mentioned, the gap is larger when you are downloading media content). This makes sure that downloading and accessing files will be an absolute breeze on the network. Thanks to the higher reliability and top-class speeds, m-payments will be facilitated greatly as well. The average mobile game apps will also become more glitch-free (provided network connectivity is available).

  3. The funding factor

    In the UK, a massive investment (£700 million) has been made for 5G trials. Implementing and fine-tuning the next-gen mobile network will be an expensive affair – and question marks remain over whether private players will remain motivated enough to carry on with their 5G experiments. Already, margins are getting reduced – thanks to the presence of many relatively new startups – and if prospective returns from 5G do not seem ‘adequate’, things could hit a roadblock. During the MWC event, a noted technologist also expressed concerns about the 5G hype mostly being an ‘irrational exuberance’ – something similar to the 90s ‘dot-com bubble’. It will be fascinating to see whether the interest in 5G continues to sizzle, or if things fizzle out.

  4. Big players are onboard

    Whether the buzz about 5G sustains or not, everyone seems to be mighty excited for the technology at present. Verizon has entered into a ‘5G Open Trial Specification Alliance’ with NTT Docomo and SK Telecom – to start field trials of the network later in 2017. Nokia is involved in two collaborations – the first with Samsung and KT, and the other with KDDI, for working on 5G. AT&T has entered into a partnership with Ericsson and Intel for the start of 5G tests. Interestingly, Ericsson is already involved in 20+ agreements for the development of 5G services – and is reportedly collaborating with Unicom for next-gen IoT and cloud-based solutions.

  5. So, what is the ‘definition’ of 5G?

    Unfortunately, there are no standard official definitions of 5G yet. Software and app developers expect the network to be rolled out commercially at the turn of this decade – and standard information about it should become gradually available over the next few quarters. The precise specifications of the 5G network will be proposed by 3GPP and released by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union). The sheer anticipation and expectations about 5G is remarkable, considering that its commercial release is more than a couple of years away.

There was a time when smartphones with 2G/3G network coverage more than sufficed the needs of users. The scenario changed with more and more big data coming into existence, and ever-increasing demands for higher (read: lightning-fast) network speeds. While 4G has been fairly good (although adoption rates vary from 96% in South Korea to a measly 40% in Sri Lanka), the 5G network will be really pushing the envelope in this regard. Let’s just say, when 5G comes…it will be a game-changer!