LoRa or NB-IoT? 7 business considerations

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    Aug 29, 2017 5:44:21 PM | Door ir. Gijs Meuleman

    ir. Gijs Meuleman

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    LoRa or NB-IoT? 7 business considerations

    Recently the Low Power Wide Area Networks gets a lot of positive feedback. The reason is simple. It’s possible to provide IoT objects connectivity over long distances. In this article we reveal the most important considerations of this time. The most popular LPWA standards are: LoRa and NB-IoT. Which one would be the best for you? LoRa or NB-IoT?


    The main considerations

    1. Implementation Model (Deployment model)
    Would you like to have control over the infrastructure? That’s possible! The network architecture of LoRa is much easier compared too NB-IoT! This makes it possible to place your own gateway for relatively low cost. It’s also possible for LoRa to use existing national networks, such as KPN. This will give you much benefit! NB IoT is part of the 3GPP specification and uses many components of the existing 4G standard. It can only be implemented in base stations of network operators.


    2. Potential for global roll (ease of worldwide deployment)
    NB-IoT will be better. They’re a part of the existing 4G standard. This makes it possible to equip base stations with this technology, this throughout a software update. The fact that LoRa operates within a ISM band, will be the reason that they require a specific antenna. This network infrastructure is not available in many countries and can be quite expensive to implement.


    3. Convenience of roaming (ease of roaming)
    With NB-IoT it’s possible to use the existing roaming agreements that are made between network operators in different countries. LoRa is a new network. As a result LoRa has no existing agreements between providers of different national networks. The expectation is that this will take longer.


    4. SLA support (SLA support)
    NB IoT will give you more guarantees for the business market. You can see the difference within terms of the frequency band. NB IoT uses a frequency band for which a network operator has the exclusive rights. This makes it possible to guarantee the availability of the network. LoRa on the other hand, uses the ISM band (Industrial Scientific and Medical). This frequency band is available for everyone.


    5. Availability hardware (Device availability)
    LoRa is a technology that’s available in the market for several years. Meanwhile, the hardware is widely available. This gives them an edge. NB IoT has only standardized last June. The availability of NB-IoT hardware modules is still a challenge. There are some devices available, but not widely. The expectation is that this will be available on the 2nd half of the year.


    6. Implementation status ( (Deployment status)
    The technology of LoRa has been available for a few years. As a result, there are now a number of nationwide networks available. In addition, the hardware is also readily available. Regarding to NB- IoTthere is now a number of network operators that support this technology. Please notice! Many of these initials are still in testing phase. It will be available in the 2nd half of the year.


    7 a.  Ecosystem of suppliers (Supplier ecosystem)
    The LoRa technology is owned by Semtech. At this moment they’re the only one that makes chipsets. NB IoT is partly an open standard. They expect that the chipsets will be available from all the major manufacturers. Currently there are modules available from U-Blox and Quectel.

    b.  Cost
    We arrived at the main point of discussion. In our opinion, the costs depend on the adoption rate of the technology. Eventually, the technology will be most commonly used; will also be the cheapest solution. Especially since the one-time investment can be spread over a larger number. Since NB-IoT is easiest to scale up worldwide, we expect that this will ultimately be the cheapest solution.

     

    Conclusion


    It’s not always easy to choose between LoRo and NB-IoT. Both technologies have their do’s and don’ts. LoRa seems a more logical choice when you want to keep control over the infrastructure, when short time-to-market is required. When you need a global applicability and a SLA support, then NB-IoT seems a more appropriate choice. If you read the considerations, it’s likely that NB-IoT will get the largest market share.

    References:

    • Low Power Wide Area Networks: An Overview, Raza et.al.
    • IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials, 2017.

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