‘The delay in NB-IoT in Japan has caused the operators to trial LoRaWan’ - Marc Einstein, Chief Analyst, Telecommunications and Digital Services, ITR Corporation

The LPWAN World Forum is returning on the 19th and 20th September at Olympia Conference Centre in London. This year the forum will focus on discussing, debating and discovering how LPWANs are enabling a much wider range of M2M and IoT applications.

One LPWAN World Forum speaker, Marc Einstein, has over 15 years of telecommunications and digital media industry experience, with domain knowledge covering markets, management consulting and business analysis. His key areas of focus include the Internet of Things, 4G and 5G networks, LPWAN, e-Commerce, fintech, gaming and artificial intelligence.

Marc, who will be discussing ‘Lessons from Japan’ completed the speaker Q&A:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of licensed and unlicensed LPWA options?
Unlicensed LPWA standards have had a first-mover advantage in the market and hence are being deployed across Japan and have enabled both telco and non-telco players to enter the Japanese market.  Given the long expected battery life of LPWAN modules, these devices could be in the market for quite a while.  Licensed NB-IoT will also be deployed by telcos in Japan as their spectrum ownership gives them some exclusive benefits.

Matching technologies to applications – which technologies are best suited for specific applications?
The most common applications in Japan currently are using very low bandwidth and are monitoring conditions in farms, railroads, energy systems etc.  For these kinds of use cases Sigfox & LoRaWAN are suitable.  Going forward for more advanced applications requiring bi-directional communication and higher bandwidth NB-IoT and eventually 5G will become more widespread.

How has the delay in NB-IoT roll-outs impacted the LPWAN industry?
The delay in NB-IoT in Japan has caused the operators to trial LoRaWan as there is a desire to acquire customers now as the replacement cycle for LPWAN might be very long due to the long battery life.

Can LPWA be successful without one universal standard?
Yes.  Unlicensed band providers have a head start in the market and are more suitable for some applications, but these players will have to achieve scale in order to become viable.  NB-IoT and eventually 5G will be used for more technologically sophisticated applications and backed by the major telcos. 

How can economies of scale be achieved?
Sensor prices, although currently lower than what we have seen before, still need to fall more in order to see mass adoption especially in the smart city and agriculture spaces.

Are business models for LPWAN justifying the technology hype?
Not yet.  Japanese players would like to explore data-driven business models but device prices are still to high to do this, but it is clear that connectivity alone will likely not be sufficient.

Will the addition of location services be the killer application for LPWAN?
I think that the prospects for automating business functions will be the killer app in Japan, as the country is facing severe labour shortages especially in the agriculture segment.  One of the agricultural cooperatives in Northern Japan is using LPWAN to monitor the degree of frost on fruit trees, automating a process that formerly required 60 people to manually inspect trees.

Does the industry need more partnerships and collaboration in order to thrive?
Absolutely.  As many LPWAN customers are new to the M2M business many end users need not only connectivity but storage, network planning, data analytics, networking planning, consulting services etc.  In Japan Sigfox operator KCCS is using AI from NEC for its LPWAN solution which is a good example of industry collaboration.

About Smart Summit London

Smart Summit is a 2 day conference and exhibition covering the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and its impact on the digital society.

Now in its 3rd year, the event features Europe's leading Smart Home Summit and a further 5 tracks all designed to compliment each other.

With over 180 visionary speakers, gain a unique insight from industry heavyweights and hear case study examples from major contributors.

Make sure you are present in London on the 19th and 20th September for THE Smart IoT event of 2017.