M2M modules that can run for ten years on a single AA battery and cost less than five US dollars are the stated aims of current endeavors to set up LPWA networks. The plan is for a new, low-cost connectivity in the frequency range of less than one gigahertz.
In contrast to classical mobile network connections with higher bandwidths, LPWA connections are intended only for simple messages with a low data volume. High coverage and low energy consumption are the key criteria – even if the connections are characterized by low bandwidths and high latency.
Huge market potential
According to an LPWA study by Analysis Mason the addressable market for LPWA services consists of a total of around 14 billion connections. The main focus is on application areas that are hard to provide for by using classical mobile network-based connections – areas such as low-priced consumer electronics goods.
A pet tracker, for example, could be manufactured to cost 40 US dollars, including connectivity and service. Applications requiring higher security standards and greater bandwidths should continue to rely on traditional M2M connections. They include, for instance, the Smart Grid sector, security solutions, and Connected Car projects.
And there was light
Research by Prof. Harald Haas at the University of Edinburgh is much more visionary than LPWA networks. It involves using standard LEDs for data transfer. Prof. Haas has coined the term Li-Fi for a new optical data transmission process of which the latest demonstration model reaches transmission speeds of more than 130 Mbits per second.