IBM brings new technology for IoT communications

IBM Research and Semtech last week announced LoRaWAN (Long Range wide-area networks) technology for providing machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

The new technology based on low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs), is significantly better than wireless and Wi-Fi technologies and support Internet of Things (IoT) for business. It is based on a new specification and protocol for low-power, wide-area networks that taps an unlicensed wireless spectrum.

IBM says LoRaWAN solves technical challenges such as limited battery life, short communication distances, high costs and a lack of standards.

The main advantage of the new technology is that it can connect sensors over long distances, uses optimal battery life and reduced infrastructure – promising benefits such as mobility, security, bi-directionality, and localization/positioning, as well as lower costs.


“We see opportunity for LPWAN in South Africa, particularly for energy management applications. There is a vast range of applications for this technology ranging from medical solutions to agricultural systems,” said John Myers, CEO of FastNet.

IBM, Semtech, and other companies also announced the LoRa Alliance, a new association to support and develop the standardization LoRaWAN, which aims to combine hardware and software based on the LoRaWAN standard for telecom operators and network operators.

LoRaWAN sensors can communicate over distances of more than 100 km in favorable environments, 15 km in typical semi-rural environments and more than 2 km in dense urban environments at data rates from 300 bit/s up to 100 kbit/s.

The sensors can run for 10 years or more on a single AA battery.

When combined with IBM’s Long Range Signaling and Control (LRSC) software and the IBM Internet of Things Foundation cloud hosted service, LoRaWAN enables large-scale M2M/IoT deployments.

Senet, a Network as a Service (NaaS) M2M operator based in New Hampshire, is installing 20,000 Semtech LoRa sensors with IBM’s LRSC software to track the fuel levels of propane and oil tanks located at residences and businesses on the west and east coasts of the United States.

George Dannecker, CEO of Senet, said: “Our gauges are accurate and thanks to the LoRa technology they work over longer distances, reducing our infrastructure costs, which are savings we can pass to our clients. Consumers also benefit from knowing how much fuel is in the tank at all times.”

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