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IoT platforms LoRa, Sigfox, Weightless and NB-IoT all announce progress

Internet of Things IOT logo and concept as vector illustration using flat design

As the race to become the default specialist low-power network for IoT hots up, LoRa, Sigfox, Weightless and NB-IoT have all made fresh announcements.

The LoRa Alliance has welcomed Liu Jianye, GM for Energy and IoT Innovation at ZTE onto its board of directors. ZTE was already a member of the China LoRa Application Alliance, which has recruited over 40 full members its four months of operation, and has been involved in the development of LoRa for a while.

Other LoRa board members include Sagemcom, Actility, Semtech, Belgacom, Bouygues Telecom, KPN, IBM and Cisco. Another recent addition to the board was French operator Orange, which has been publicly favouring LoRa for a while. ZTE recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Semtech to cooperate closely on the development of the LPWAN industrial chain.

Competing LPWAN company Sigfox has announced the complete roll-out of a complete IoT network in Ireland in just eight months, in partnership with Irish telco VT Networks. Ireland is apparently the sixth European country to roll out a Sigfox network, following France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

“Irish businesses and farmers have been quick to understand the benefits that the Sigfox dedicated IoT network provides,” said Mark Bannon, CEO of VT Networks. “We are excited to see this growing level of interest, and look forward to launching programs that further integrate the network throughout the country.”

“The founders of VT Networks are visionary, experienced communications executives and they are bringing an entrepreneurial approach to implementing IoT connectivity in every sector of Ireland,” said Rodolphe Baronnet-Frugès, Sigfox EVP of networks and operators. “We expect their experiences in Ireland will set an example for other countries as SIGFOX continues its worldwide expansion.”

Meanwhile Telekom Austria has conducted a demonstration of NB-IoT – the only LPWAN technology based on licensed spectrum – in partnership with Nokia and in an apparent bid to demonstrate that technology is the best suited to the job, as well as its own IoT credentials.

“The introduction of NB-IoT is the next logical step in our M2M strategy to make the best technology and know-how on the market available to our customers and partners,” said Bernd Liebscher, MD of Telekom Austria Group M2M. “We are delighted that with Nokia we have found such a highly-qualified partner for this technological step that will enable us to serve the fast-growing IoT market.”

“IoT devices could make up to 6.8 trillion daily connection requests by 2020,” said Peter Wukowits, Head of Central Europe for Nokia. “Our joint demonstration of NB-IoT clearly shows the potential of this technology for managing this immense volume of connections and also Nokia’s readiness to contribute to the development and implementation of the most innovative solutions in Austria together with A1, which at the end of the day will improve consumers’ quality of life, health and safety.”

Lastly the Weightless SIG has announced it’s teaming up with ETSI to offer its Weightless-N standards activities into the ETSI LTN (Low Throughput Network)  initiative within TG28, ensuring that all those interested in UNB (Ultra-Narrow Band) solutions are represented in a single forum. In addition LPWAN specialist Telensa has joined the Weightless SIG board.

“In order to reduce fragmentation and enable critical mass in the marketplace we are bringing these two initiatives together, immediately reducing fragmentation and providing a platform around which industry can coalesce,” said Weightless CEO, William Webb. “We are delighted to welcome Telensa to the burgeoning Weightless ecosystem” as they join the SIG’s board as key players in this consolidation.”

“Proprietary ecosystems are no substitute for credible open standards when real market velocity is required, said Will Gibson, CEO of Telensa. “That’s why we’re delighted to be extending our ETSI standards work by joining the board of Weightless. This partnership signals a growing maturity in the LPWA market and will liberate a new wave of smart city sensor and application developers.”

Most of the public announcements surrounding NB-IoT of late have been focused on claiming it’s already the default LPWAN standard, while Sigfox has been keen to mark out territory of its own. LoRa and Weightless seem to sit somewhere in the middle, offering their own solutions but also conceding that coexistence with other standards is inevitable.

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