Internet of Things alliance LoRa: Licence to WAN? Yes please

Coughing up for spectrum might be worth it for quality of service

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Internet of Things folk the LoRa Alliance reckons its LoRaWAN may move from unlicensed to licensed spectrum to help guarantee quality of service, according to reports.

An unnamed spokesman for LoRa*, speaking to wonderfully named communications industry news website Light Reading, said that the move was prompted by major mobile operators using their licensed spectrum to adopt new cellular IoT networking standards such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).

“The only benefit carriers have is that they can guarantee quality of service because it's a licensed band,” said the mystery mouthpiece. “The only move that LoRa and Sigfox can make to counter that is to put the technologies in licensed bands and I predict that will happen at some point.”

The basic thrust of the argument for licensed spectrum is exclusivity over spectrum in order to minimise interference and maximise range.

Unlicensed spectrum, in contrast, is all about keeping costs as low as possible. The price of unlicensed spectrum is that the world and his dog can come along and drown you out and you have no recourse against this.

As Light Reading reports, the big question “is whether [mobile] operators have sufficient incentive to dedicate costly spectrum resources to LoRa given the growing momentum behind NB-IoT.”

NB-IoT will form the IoT-specific element of the 5G specification, giving operators a powerful incentive to adopt it. Various telcos around the world are getting behind it and hardware manufacturers such as Huawei are going full throttle on 5G – and, by extension, NB-IoT.

LoRa, in the same way as its unlicensed spectrum rival Sigfox, had the early mover advantage in the IoT networking world and has managed to get networks including Orange, South Korea’s SK Telecom and Japan’s Softbank on board, although these are not exclusive deals – what was billed as Japan’s first ever trial of NB-IoT, carried out by Softbank, resulted in freezing failure. ®

* Its proprietary low power Internet of Things network system spec is outlined here


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