IoT @ MWC17: What the LPWAN Players Were Up To
March 20, 2017 Leave a comment
- Where IoT factored into a broad set of vendor messaging at Mobile World Congress 2017, there were diverse messages coming out of various camps: silicon vendors, LPWAN network providers, incumbent telecom vendors, specialist telecom and IT players.
- LPWAN network providers came to MWC ready to talk up their progress with building out network coverage, their ecosystems and use cases. Some, however, failed to make their presence known at all.
IoT is a big topic, dominating many discussions around the future of wireless networks and telecom service providers.
It wasn’t surprising, then, that it was a major topic of discussion at Mobile World Congress this year. Likewise, given the broad reach of IoT use cases and the broad set of players in the IoT ecosystem, it wasn’t surprising to see different parts of the market show up with their own stories. A look at the announcements from various segments of the market – silicon vendors, LPWAN network providers, incumbent telecom vendors, specialist telecom and IT players – helps to illustrate the stories they showed up to tell.
While not exhaustive, the table below recaps the announcements released by LPWAN network and network technology providers at (or in the general timeframe of) MWC. Taking a look at their breadth, a number of clear themes emerge.
- Coverage, Coverage, Coverage. Just like the old adage about real estate, perhaps the most important thing for LPWAN network technologies is “location, location, location.” Unless a broad set of locations is covered by a network or network technology – aka, coverage – it will be useless to would-be customers. It’s really that simple. And it’s also why coverage was high on the list of LPWAN player messaging priorities from Ingenu’s work in the Middle East and Brazil (along its coverage update), Sigfox’s work in Singapore and Sweden (and, potentially broadly with Telefonica) or the promise of LoRa network roaming. As LPWAN players race to build momentum before cellular alternatives like NB-IoT take hold, talking up coverage is more than smart – it’s a matter of survival.
- Ecosystems and Use Cases. Of course, network coverage is useless without broader IoT solutions that can be tied to them. Here, Sigfox showed up to leverage its early work and ecosystem development progress. Some of this may seem trivial (connected buttons) or niche (rhino preservation). Some of it was far from trivial: security solutions, location tracking capabilities, solution development with LACROIX. Regardless, as much as competitors might decry the performance of Sigfox’s technology, this all pointed to a maturity of messaging and solution development that it would be good to hear other players talk up as well (if they can).
- Too Quiet on the IoT Front. Beyond cellular options, the LPWAN universe is expansive, including players like LoRa, Sigfox, Ingenu, Weightless, Telensa, and Silver Spring Networks. You wouldn’t know this if you took Mobile World Congress 2017 as a snapshot. To be fair, you could argue that it wasn’t necessarily the venue for specific vertically focused players like Telensa or Silver Spring. The LoRa Alliance, however, seemed to be doing far less than it should in making the case for its global footprint and ecosystem (perhaps a function of its distributed, member-based structure). Likewise, a complete lack of news from Weightless did nothing to make a case that it’s still alive and kicking.