Actility and Inmarsat claim first global LoRaWAN network

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UK satellite comms company Inmarsat has teamed up with French LPWAN specialist Actility to launch what they claim is the first global LoRa-based network.

LoRa is one of the most prominent unlicensed alternatives to NB-IoT as a special low-power wireless technology designed specifically to support IoT connectivity. While note positioning itself as a competitor to NB-IoT, LoRa does need to justify its existence at momentum bulds around the licensed standard and this announcement is a positive step.

Satellite LoRa is being positioned, initially at least, as very much a B2B technology, helping verticals like agribusiness and energy monitor, track and optimise their assets. Use-cased listed include tracking livestock in farms, optimising water levels in plantations and monitoring distant oil platforms. The emphasis is very much on bringing IoT to remote locations via satellite.

“These three early applications are indicative of the industrial IoT market in general: businesses don’t need an off-the-shelf IoT solution for agribusiness or asset tracking; they need a specific solution for a specific problem,” said Paul Gudonis, President of Inmarsat Enterprise. “Through our collaboration with Actility, we have the building blocks to tailor solutions for each specific opportunity, no matter where it is in the world.”

“Actility has worked on many large-scale nationwide LPWA network deployments, but this is bigger: we’re fantastically excited about being part of the first truly global IoT network in partnership with Inmarsat,” said Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “Our collaboration with Inmarsat allows us to provide customers with an end-to-end solution to connect their assets and fulfill their IoT business needs anywhere in the world. We’ll be working alongside Inmarsat every step of the way to help global customers address their specific needs with more efficient, best-fit solutions.”

Guaranteed coverage would appear to be table-stakes for IoT as there’s not much point in only being able to monitor your assets some of the time. The applications detailed in this announcement represent the likely real-word manifestation of IoT for the foreseeable future, regardless of the questionable allure of sentient domestic appliances.

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