How to navigate in dedicated IOT connectivity offerings

If the 5G trustees the top of the bill, whether in the spans of the MWC Barcelona or the CES Las Vegas, the future protocol of mobile telecommunication is not the only one to apply for the rank of the privileged network in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). This is a highly strategic area with economies of scale without common measures for companies, which should be increasingly used to improve the performance of their activities, in the context of the emergence of Industry 4.0.

According to a study recently published by the GSMA, the association of telecom operators, the number of IoT connections is expected to triple between 2018 and 2025 to approach 25 billion globally. Hence the growing interest of operators to implement dedicated IoT offers, while the connected objects industry is expected to explode in the coming years, surfing on an average annual rate of 23% until 2025 to reach 1, $ 1 trillion, four times more than in 2018.

Faced with this explosion in the number of connected objects, mobile network operators are vying with imagination to develop dedicated offers for industrial players, for whom there is a crucial question: how much they will have to bear to develop IoT connection solutions adapted to their activities.

While some organizations will require high speeds to support the connection between their different connected objects, this is not the case for all players, some of whom may only need dedicated solutions for devices with low energy consumption and with greater network coverage.

This is where different competing solutions come in. On the one hand, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) low-power and long-distance network technologies, including among others the Sigfox and LoRaWAN (so-called LoRa) solutions. On the other hand, the mobile operators’ response to LPWWAN technologies via IoT solutions based on existing cellular networks, like the LTE-M and NB-IoT offers developed respectively by Orange Business Service and SFR Business.

Sigfox and LoRa, inexpensive alternatives for industrial use

“We do not need a highway to ride a bicycle”, summed up recently the headquarters of Sigfox to present the 0G technology developed by the company from Toulouse. A formula that applies perfectly to LPWAN solutions, such as those based on Ingenu’s RPMA technology, Ubiik’s Weightless, Sigfox’s “0G” or the LoRa protocol originally developed by Semtech.

While the commercial strategies of the latter two players differ – Sigofx has opted for a proprietary environment, unlike SemTech – they both have strong similarities from a technological point of view. Both operate on the frequency of 868 MHz – whose use was liberalized by ARCEP in 2006. An ultra narrowband (called Ultra narrowband) that provides signals with a good penetration capacity in buildings and basements, reaching great distances – up to 40 km! – without significant energy needs.

A resilient and adapted device if the coverage of the IoT network does not require a high data rate and must be extended to better adapt to a configuration involving dispersed devices, such as for example a surveillance device power consumption.

The only drawback is that LPWAN solutions – essentially designed to communicate energy-efficient objects over long distances – are only suitable for low-speed applications. By way of example, the messages transmitted by the “0G” Sigfox sensors can only transmit a maximum of 12 bytes per message, as the group management announced a few days ago.

NB-IoT, LTE-M: the response of cellular network operators

Faced with the competition of LPWAN solutions, the response of the shepherd to the shepherdess was not long in the development by the operators of cellular networks of new solutions IoT with low consumption.

With the example of the LTE-M standard (for Long Term Evolution, category M1) marketed in France since the beginning of the year by Orange Business Service. Certified by 3GPP, the organization in charge of the specification of mobile network technologies, this technology, hosted on Orange’s LTE mobile network, offers higher data rates – roughly equal to 1Mbit / s – via a network. spectral occupancy of 1.4 MHz.

“What are the operational advantages of LTE-M?” One of them is the economies of scale generated in its deployment, which requires only a simple update of existing 4G infrastructures. and above all, taking a new step in IoT applications for the corporate world, based on the principle of Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN), all in the context of mobility, thanks to the performance of LTE-M in terms of coverage and energy consumption, companies can indeed connect objects that would not have been viable with existing technologies, ” summarized Orange last May , during the deployment of its network LTE-M in Belgium.

Like OBS, SFR Business also announced this week the launch of its own offering dedicated to IoT. It is based on NB-IoT technology, a wireless communication protocol also standardized by 3GPP. Like LTE-M or LPWAN technologies, the NB-IoT is characterized by an extended coverage area, high penetration capability, very low connectivity cost, low power consumption, and optimized network architecture.

According to another study published by the GSMA during the 2019 edition of the Mobile World Congress, which was held this week in Barcelona, ​​the world currently has 94 networks dedicated to the Internet of Things, deployed in 49 markets by 50 different mobile operators through LTE-M and NB-IoT. The telecom operators’ association claims that the coverage of these networks should reach 93% of the world’s largest IoT markets by the second quarter of 2019 while estimating that there will be 3.5 billion cellular connections IoT by 2025, of which $ 1.9 billion will come from LTE-M and NB-IoT networks.

The battle to take over the IoT market is therefore likely to be long and more and more bitter in the coming years. A boon for professionals who should be able to find shoes at their feet amidst all these dedicated IoT solutions.