French cellular operator Orange has settled on LoRa (Long Range) technology to build a dedicated machine-to-machine network covering all of metropolitan France. It says the network will supplement the company's existing cellular network and will roll out progressively starting early in 2016.
According the company's announcement, its low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network runs on the smell of an oily rag and costs mere pennies to run. Another cost advantage is that LPWA uses unlicensed spectrum.
The technology is optimised for sporadic, non-critical communications. This makes it ideal for the internet of things, which is the new holy grail for cellular operators coming to terms with the otherwise shaky economics of running mobile phone networks.
LPWA transmits small packets of data between devices that don't need to be plugged into the power grid. Orange says this approach is “especially useful for connecting sensors in Smart Cities.”
Orange says it has worked with more than 30 businesses in Grenoble to test the technology in recent months. The trial took place under real-life conditions and looked at the network's expected uses, including collecting data from sensors, controlling, and locating objects.
In addition to the new network, Orange plans to continue developing existing cellular technologies for the internet of things. This includes 2G EC-GSM (extended coverage GSM) standard and 4G cat 0 LTE, PSM (Power Saving Mode) projects. It says this will be in operation in 2017 and a 5G network will be in place by 2022. ®