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A Comparison of LPWAN Technologies

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The rise of connected devices has placed an emphasis on low power wireless communication. Like we outlined in our previous post about LTE categories, the need for connecting simple devices like sensors and actuators is rapidly increasing. You’ll typically hear these types of technologies referred to as Low-Power Wide-Area Networking or LPWAN.sigfox-logo

These technologies are all intended for use to connect low cost, low power, and low bandwidth devices, but there are some subtle differences which we share in this post.

SIGFOX
SIGFOX is suited best for the lowest bandwidth applications with extremely tight energy budgets. What’s unique to SIGFOX is that it is an entirely separate network for IoT devices. Currently the infrastructure is up and running in Western Europe and San Francisco with pilot programs in South America and Asia in progress. It’s an open standard operating over the sub-GHz frequency bands (868 MHz in Europe and 900 MHz in USA) and any radio provider can use it.Logo-LoRa-300x185

LoRa Technology
LoRa is a technology developed by the chip manufacturer, Semtech. It offers fairly decent bandwidth compared to other LPWAN tech. Since it requires the use of Semtech’s chip, it’s not considered an open standard. LoRa has received traction in the European markets and there are a number of deployments today. 

NB IoT
The requirements of NB IoT have just been finalized as of early 2016. This new narrowband radio technology provides an appropriate LTE category for low-bandwidth IoT devices. It leverages the existing infrastructure of LTE and GSM network providers to facilitate low bandwidth communications for IoT devices.logo-Transparent

LTE-M
LTE-M is part of Release 13 of the 3GPP standard, to lower power consumption, reduce device complexity/cost, and provide deeper coverage to reach challenging locations (e.g., deep inside buildings). This standard will improve upon NB IoT in terms of bandwidth. It also boasts the highest security of LPWAN technologies.

Digi CTO Joel Young takes a closer look at how these LPWAN technologies compare:

 

The Evolution of LTE for IoT and M2M Devices

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When you hear LTE you probably start thinking of fast speed, high bandwidth, HD video, your favorite apps…lots of data. But, LTE can also be dialed back to create power-efficient cellular connected devices. This is a useful solution for connecting IoT devices like sensors and actuators to the Internet since they don’t transmit lots of data and operate under strict energy budgets.

Did you know there’s more than one type of LTE?

Within LTE there are multiple categories as defined by the global cellular standards body, 3GPP. Some of the categories are still in the process of being developed but one thing is clear, there will be split in the evolution of LTE. In one direction, LTE will continue to increase speed and bandwidth for smartphones and other data-hungry applications.  In the other direction, we’ll see cellular providers accommodating machine-to-machine communication with LTE designed for low power, low data, and low cost.

In the video below, Digi CTO, Joel Young, provides an in-depth look into how LTE technologies are evolving to accommodate the various needs of cellular connected devices.

We’re still in the early days of LTE for machines, but more advancements in LTE for M2M/IoT are on the horizon. Check out our technical brief “M2M in an LTE World,”  for more details on how these LTE categories differ and what it means for M2M/IoT product designs.

Digi Helps Wildlife Research Institute Study Bear Hibernation with Remote Monitoring Solution

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The business of connecting machines may seem as far from nature as you can get. But, this remote monitoring system is a great reminder that machines are incredible tools we can use to learn more about the things we care about– in this case, bears.

Digi developed a remote monitoring solution for the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) that allows the Institute to monitor bears in their dens during hibernation. One particular bear, Lily, has hibernated deep in the Minnesota woods where there is no access to landline Internet service. To establish a camera uplink to Lily’s remote den, WRI is using the Digi TransPort WR21 wireless router which provides a high-speed Internet connection over Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network.

“We are allowing the Wildlife Research Institute to gain valuable insights into the activity of bears during hibernation by establishing a 4G connection in the wilderness,” said Joel Young, senior vice president of research and development and CTO of Digi International. “We have connected hundreds of thousands of remote devices throughout the world, and this application is a great example of how technology can be used to take control of widely-deployed assets.”

Using the video uplink, researchers could see how Lily prepared for birth during hibernation and how she reacted to the cubs just after birth. A second camera was also installed outside of Lily’s den that records activity near the den during warmer months.

Digi also helped the WRI connect scales that detect when a bear is present in the den. When the bear steps on the scale, weight is recorded and the sensors trigger the camera to begin recording. 

“It’s incredible that with a small amount of money and effort, these low-tech devices have been made smart just by adding connectivity,” said Jim Stroner, a research program volunteer and special products development manager with Digi International. “This application is a great example of how connected devices can impact society, and we are extremely pleased to be a part of this exciting and valuable research.”

Jim’s photo of Lily even won the 2013 Winter Nature Photo Contest and was featured on Science Friday. You can see all of Jim’s photos on his website, StronerWildlife.com.

You can also read Verizon’s post on the system here.

Now, we ask you– if you could remotely monitor anything what would it be?

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

Internet of things: How machine-to-machine technology is making inroads into our lives on The Economic Times

Internet of Things & Machine-To-Machine Communication Market – Advanced Technologies, Future Cities & Adoption Trends, Roadmaps & Worldwide Forecasts on Research and Markets

Two good infrastructure considerations for the internet of things from SXSW on Gigaom

LTE for M2M has “numerous benefits”, says Heavy Reading on Telecom Engine

Deploying an open source pollution monitoring network on Hackaday

Do you have a link to share? Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @XBeeWireless — we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

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