10 October, 2016

LPWA (Low Power Wide Area), the core of IoT

AI / Big Data / IoT

Information Technology continues its run as the fastest evolving industry in 2016. AI (Artificial Intelligence), Big Data and IoT (Internet of Things) are the hottest keywords in this industry. 

In essence, those three technologies are totally different from each other in terms of fundamental technology but become very disruptive when they are harmonized (hereinafter referred to as “a mixture”). So from this point of view AI, Big Data and IoT are in complementary relation.

[IoT, Big Data and AI]

Relations of the mixture

As described above, the largest feeder of Big Data is IoT and AI is where the Big Data is utilized the most. The output of AI is fed back to our practical life and IoT is used to trace the result of it.

Virtuous circle of a mixture

[Virtuos circle of AI, Big Data and IoT]

IoT works based on the following three parts.

       Sensor part
       Communication part
       Control part (optional)

IoT, Internet of Things literally allows an object (Thing) to be sensed and sends it through internet.


LPWA, standing for Low Power Wide Area, is the communication part of IoT. It is a type of wireless telecommunication network designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate among things (connected objects), such as sensors operated on a battery (source: Wikipedia). The advent of LPWA is to address the following technical requirements.

       Low in power consumption: a battery life in excess of 10 years
       Low device unit cost: cost under 5 dollars
       Installation at a low cost
       Stable and wide range coverage
       Large-scale device connectivity
       Bandwidth: non-licensed bandwidth, a fraction of existing cellular mobile network (LTE-MTC, NB-LTE)

The following is comparison of LPWA and other mobile network such as WCDMA / LTE.

LPWA Contenders

Since 2010 LPWA has brought up commercialization issue in earnest. Each LPWA contender has its own characteristic and standard status.

Among the above, there are a few LPWA contenders that currently talk about their commercialization globally. See below table.

James’s thoughts on LPWA

LPWA is  a big trend that no one can go against. Without IoT, nobody can talk about either the 4th industrial revolution or Big Data, AI or all sorts of ICT products penetrating into our life.

Who is going to be a winner of LPWA? Although it sounds discouraging, my personal prospective is that everybody will be the winner in the next 3 years. Take telcos in Korea for example, all of them going for LTE-M, LoRa, NB-IoT will be successful for the following two reasons.
  • IoT devices that need to be connected through LPWA network are in great demand. (Hundreds of millions of devices by 2020 are expected in Korea market)
  • LTE-M, LoRa, NB-IoT narket segmentation by its own characteristic. (Select a network that fits for the IoT device)

In the era of LPWA network, I’m excited about how a mixture of AI / Big Data / IoT will change the future. It would be fun, informative and marvelous!