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What is LPWA?

IoT connectivity that works over wide areas and with longer battery life.

LPWA: New Approach for an Old Problem

Low-power, wide-area wireless technology (LPWA) is the response to the need for ubiquitous, battery-efficient, professionally managed, and out-of-the-box connectivity to unlock massive value for tens to hundreds of billions of devices. Unlike prior wireless technologies (mesh, cellular, Wi-Fi, local RF), LPWA provides battery efficient (years on a battery, not days or weeks), ubiquitous wide-area connectivity, that is professionally managed. Prior approaches (mesh, cellular, local RF, Wi-Fi) failed over many years to provide inexpensive connectivity for these widely disbursed, low-cost devices whose economics require up to 20 years of battery life.

Ubiquitous wireless connectivity means a business can track its assets as they travel across countries and borders without having to worry about any of the connectivity issues going on in the background; the public network is simply professionally managed by the wireless provider. Low-power connectivity means that the company’s trackers don’t need to have the batteries changed or charged every few days or weeks. This is what low-power, wide-area (LPWA) wireless connectivity gives to organization tapping into the IoT for business value.

LPWA devices use very little power, cover a large area, and should require very little human interaction

LPWA, at its core, is a public wide-area network (WAN) with the capability to connect tens of billions of devices spread out over hundreds of millions of square miles.
LPWA delivers lower data rates than a traditional WAN (like an LTE network). This is intentional, as 86% of all current IoT devices use less than 3MB of data per month. As the Internet of Things progresses, we agree with the 3GPP folks that 99.9% of LPWA devices will use less than 150 kbytes of data per month. Pet, people and pallet trackers, environmental monitoring, brake pad and other smart automotive parts, money bag trackers, luggage trackers, and so many more applications are what will give us the tens to hundreds of billions of connected devices on an LPWA network.

The term LPWA may be relatively new, but the concept of low-cost, low-power connectivity has been around for a while with other names: Machine-to-Machine (M2M), Wireless Sensor Networking (WSN), Internet-of-Things (IoT), etc.

Most IoT devices will require less than 3MB of data per month

THE LPWA BUSINESS

The LPWA business requires a few key players. Understanding their roles can help organizations understand how to filter through much of the noise heard in the marketplace regarding various LPWA technologies. As in any business, to thrive and best serve customers, players in the the LPWA business must have a viable and sustainable business path.

The Role of the Carrier

The carrier, or wireless provider, owns and operates the LPWA network. They manage the infrastructure, repair and maintain the infrastructure, plan its deployment to optimize tower placement, arrange for backhaul to the cloud, and work with the many governments to get permitted and legally operate. The carrier invests in building this network and charges applications for the use of this network. The successful carrier business profits by the revenue (connectivity fees from the applications) exceeding the expenses of running the LPWA network (tower rental, backhaul expenses, construction costs, human resources, etc.).

The Role of the Application or Device

Applications or devices are benefitted by the connectivity that the LPWA network provides. The device is what provides the data and interactivity the end user is seeking to obtain business value from the IoT. For an application to participate in an LPWA network, there must be a positive return-on-investment (ROI) of this connectivity. In other words, the value provided by the device combined with the LPWA connectivity must exceed the connectivity fees paid to the carrier and the costs to develop and maintain the device. The capabilities of the connectivity directly influence the capabilities of the devices and the value they bring the people and organizations using them.

LPWA Network Value. Connecting Billions.

The amount of revenue per LPWA tower to the carrier will typically be directly proportional to the number of endpoints served by that tower. Capacity is the metric that determines the creation of economic value to both the carrier and the application. If there is insufficient capacity then there won’t be enough devices bringing in revenue to pay for the costs of constructing and operating the tower. That means there is only liability to split and the LPWA network is ultimately doomed. Of all existing LPWA technologies, only Ingenu’s RPMA has the capacity to make a sustainable business case.
From a carrier’s point of view, the carrier wants to build ubiquitous coverage with as little infrastructure cost as possible. But those towers built to provide coverage must also have enough capacity and thus revenue to sustain the towers and other infrastructure required to provide that coverage. Coverage is an up-front capital cost; capacity represents how profitable the network may be long-term based on number of devices supported.

RPMA INNOVATION. BEARING THE LPWA MANTLE.

RPMA began a fully unconstrained intensive technology development in 2008 to provide very low-cost, low-power, feature-rich, and robust connectivity for IoT devices before the term IoT was even being used. Such an ambitious undertaking required a significant technology development. The proof is in the pudding. RPMA uniquely addresses all the requirements. No other approach comes close.

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