LPWAN has been more and more popular in the industrial and academic circle due to its communication features of low power dissipation, long distance and low cost. It can fulfill the distance communication of 10-40 kilometers in rural areas, and 1-5 kilometers in urban areas. In addition, it is characterized by low power dissipation (with life endurance of battery over 10 years) and low price, that is, USRIOT NB-IoT module just costs around 40 RMB and L0Ra 20-30 RMB. The annual operational cost of each device is also quite low. In a nutshell, LPWAN is very suitable for the IOT application of long distance transmission with small amount. As early as the beginning of 2013, there was no such word as “LPWAN”, but many LPWAN technologies had appeared in some approved or unapproved frequent broadband. Among all LPWAN, LoRa, NB-IoT and Sigfox are the most advanced emerging technologies for the time being, involving many technological differences. We can explore the differences in these three technologies from the application cases in diverse industries.
Intelligent electric meter
In the electric meter market, companies needs to communicate frequently, which requires short time delay and high data transmission speed. Usually, they require neither low power dissipation nor long battery life, due to its constant power supply. In addition, companies need real-time grid monitoring to make quick decision of loading, power failure, shortcut, etc. As such, Sigfox is not applicable to this case, because it cannot fulfill short time delay. Instead, type C LoRa can be used to set electric meter to ensure an extremely short delay. However, given the needs for high speed and frequent data transmission, NB-IoT is more applicable to this situation. In addition, electric meters are often fixed in the areas with high population density, so it will be within the coverage of cellular network of wireless network operators.
When it comes to agricultural production, sensors have a need for long battery life, and temperature, humidity and alkalinity sensors can follow up the water consumption and enhance the productivity. Because the agricultural production environment will not change rapidly within a short period, it will be enough to renew the data several times per hour. Hence, Sigfox and LoRa are the best choices. In addition, many farms have not been covered by LTE cellular so far; as such, NB-IoT cannot receive signal.
In factories, real-time monitoring machinery devices can prevent the failure of production lines, and it can accomplish distance control to enhance the efficiency. In the process of plant automation, the sensor types and communication requirements vary from one to another. Some applications need frequent communication and quality service, so that NB-IoT is a better choice than Sigfox and LoRa. As for those calling for lower cost of sensors and longer batter life to follow up and monitor assets, Sigfox and LoRa are preferred, because it can provide a mixed resolution in response to various requirements.
Sensors of temperature, humidity, safety, water flow and plug can remind property management personnel of the failures, so that they can make response according to procedure with no need to construct a monitor. In addition, architecture can be cleaned and used in a more efficient way. All these sensors need to be low-cost with long battery life rather than quality service and frequent communication. Hence, SIgfox and LoRa are more applicable to these situations.
It is a requirement for vending sellers to deliver service quality when handling frequent communication. Given all these systems are powered consecutively, there is no demand for batter life. In addition, it requires strongly for short time delay, that is, long time delay will constrain the number of products sold. Hence, NB-IoT is more suitable for this situation.
Pallet logistic trace
Currently, pallet trance is strongly needed in confirming the location and situation of goods in the process of delivery. In this situation, the cost and battery life are of the most concerned. Pallet trace is a good case to explain the mixed resolution. Logistic companies can possess the network of their own to guarantee their facilities. IOT device of low cost can be easily deployed on their vehicles. When vehicles are outside the facilities or the goods have been sent to the position of customers, Sigfox and LoRa public base can be used. However, they vehicles are in rapid movement, LoRa can fulfill a more reliable communication than Sigfox. As for BB-Iot, LTE network may not be available in all logistic position, especially in rural areas. Adding to low cost, longer battery life and reliable mobile communication, LoRa can be better adapted to this situation.