It is a little over seven years since I coined the term LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) to include a new and emerging group of technologies that could potentially transform the world of IoT by combining low cost, wide area coverage with long battery life (of up to 10 years). Key technologies in this space at the time were Sigfox, On-Ramp (now Ingenu) and Weightless (on which the NB-IoT standard is now based, following acquisition of Neul by Huawei). At the time, Semtech had relatively recently acquired Cycleo to gain access to their long range IP, which would eventually underpin LoRaWAN.
Within a couple of years, most IoT industry commentators were of a common view that LPWA technologies would together account for the majority of wide area wireless connected devices within a decade.
Spin forward to the current day, and these predictions are starting to become a reality. LoRaWAN has carved out a niche in industrial and campus networks of different kinds, with over 135 million connections deployed worldwide. The 3GPP’s NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies support a more homogenous global connectivity proposition and together accounted for close to 100 million connections by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, Sigfox currently accounts for another 16+ million connections.
As discussed in four Key Topic Insight Reports published today, the LPWA market continues to offer a significant market opportunity for all mainstream LPWA technologies, although the market and commercial dynamics associated with LoRaWAN, the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) technologies NB-IoT and LTE-M and Sigfox vary widely.
To underline the difference between these technology groups, here’s how I see the numbers evolving from today into the future: