The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought about great advancements in various industries. Even the IoT sector itself has gone tremendous change over last decade. With the emergence of new gen internet technology vis-à-vis internet 5G and Internet 6G, IoTdevices have also seen a greater degree of adoption with over 15B (the world population is at 8 billion) Internet of Things devices. This huge no. is only expected to increase in upcoming years and we’ll see an estimated 30 billion IoT devices by the end of 2030.
Smart home and smart city solutions are growing at an unprecedented rate globally due to IoT as well. Various Internet of Things connectivity technologies have been developed to support these innovations. These technologies include LoRa (Long Range), Sigfox, Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT), and Long Term Evolution-Machine (LTE-M) etc.
Armed with these IoT technologies, smart homes and smart city projects are making human living experience worthwhile. From smart kitchen appliances and smart tv, smart metering of power and gas, to smart lighting, voice assistants, smart access control, and smart garage, technology has brought in a lot of positive changes.
Let’s see which technology of these four is better for smart home and smart city IoT solutions:
LoRa stands for Long Range. It is a wireless communication technology offering long-range transmission of data at low power consumption. Its main advantage is that it enables communication over long distances by using the unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical purpose) band, encompassing 868 MHz in Europe and 915 MHz in the United States.
LoRaWAN, a network architecture for LoRA, is a cloud-based wide-area network that manages communication between the LoRa devices and application servers.
The advantages of LoRa include the long-range of coverage, low power consumption, and low-cost devices. However, the disadvantage of LoRa is the lack of scalability, as limited devices can connect to a single gateway.
The LoRaWAN specification is open and updated by LoRA alliance, a group that promotes LoRA technology. Being open, anyone can setup a LoRA network and operate.
When it comes to its use in smart homes and smart city projects, LoRa enables wide coverage, smart lighting, smart access control at homes, smart parking and vehicle recognition, pet tracking and remote temperature control, remote health monitoring etc. By 2021, there were 225m IoT devices leveraging LoRa technology.
Sigfox Wireless Technology
Sigfox is a proprietary wireless communication technology. It operates within an unlicensed sub-gigahertz frequency band for small data transmissions depending on the application.
Sigfox is known to provide coverage in over 70 countries worldwide, making it the best option for smart city and smart home IoT solutions. It has excellent energy efficiency, a low-cost device, and an extended battery life.
The downside of Sigfox is that it has limited bandwidth, limited flexibility, and limited support for multiple devices, which creates a barrier for scale.
Narrowband-Internet of Things, also known as LTE Cat NB1, is a standard from 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and operates within a licensed frequency band. In contrast, it consumes low power with improved signal quality.
NB-IoT is perfectly suited for deployments in remote locations and hard-to-reach areas with limited power resources. When it comes to the advantage, NB-IoT provides a strong signal even in weak cellular radio frequencies. It also enables devices to work with a long battery life. However, the disadvantage of NB-IoT is that it is expensive, has limited connectivity and scalability.
When it comes to smart homes and smart cities, NB-IoT provides network coverage at low data rate and lower latency. In smart cities it can easily control street lighting, environmental conditions, free parking spaces etc.
For smart power and gas metering requirements, NB-IoT provides coverage for regular and small data transmission to remote areas as well.
LTE-M is an extension of the Long Term Evolution 4G cellular communications technology. It is a wireless communication standard that aims to support low-power IoT applications. It allows cities to build low cost, long life smart city coverage that was previously not possible.
Like NB-IoT mobile IoT network, LTE-M is also standardized. In smart city projects, low power sensors in a wide area are required to keep the operating and maintenance cost to minimum. It is an optimized version of 4G LTE and offers small size message transfer as is the requirement in most IoT applications. Another good thing about LTE-M is that it doesn’t require additional infrastructure when it comes to deployment as the needed infrastructure is already in place in the form of wide coverage mobile networks.
To conclude, use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors is the future. From smart parking and smart lighting projects in city to remote monitoring of security and health parameter, low powered wide area networks (LPWAN) can help. Technologies like LoRa, NB-IoT, Sigfox, LTE-M etc. are some of the options that can be used depending upon the data transmission rate and the necessary coverage.