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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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’.