Which IoT LPWAN technology to select?

If you are developing a mobile IoT enabled product and need to select a network technology to support your product, what should you choose today?
If you have to make a choice between different LPWAN technologies it is interesting to understand which connection/network quality of service (QoS) your specific IoT-application requires and what is the life span of your IoT product (read: what is the required life span of the supporting IoT-network).

New IoT network standards!

Although nobody admits it openly today, 2G and/or 3G spectrum might sooner or later be ‘refarmed’ and replaced by more ARPU-efficient 4G LTE which is already standardized and in use. The GSMA (3GPP) is currently working on standardization of 3 LPWAN technologies:

  • EC-EGPRS an extension of GPRS;
  • LTE will be extended with IoT-specific low power sub-standards, LTE-M and narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) will be support by a variety of chipset and module manufacturers and offers a wireless network interconnectivity which meets most low bandwidth and low power IoT applications. LTE IoT 4G modules will most probably support LTE-M and NB-IoT which are both are still ‘under construction’ though but are expected to be released Q4 2016.

It’s up to the operators and customers which sub-set to offer and use.
Wait for the standard?
The IoT market is not waiting for standards to be settled. In the meantime proprietary LPWAN networks in unlicensed spectrum, like SigFox and LoRa, are being rolled-out and used. Unlicensed spectrum means however that guaranteeing a QoS in a service level agreement is very difficult.
Most manufactures design their IoT products in such a way that they’re flexible to change LPWAN implementation and ensure that replaceable hardware (comm boards) and software (libraries) are being used.
If you want to mitigate the risk of ending up with disconnected IoT-products, you might consider to talk to your IoT-enabling operator and share your roadmap and required connectivity life-span.
Below the line: The asset owner, who has the remote located IoT-device on it’s balance sheet, takes the risk.