In the Internet of Things (IoT) era, choosing the right technology to wirelessly transmit packets of data is paramount. If your devices need to send small amounts of data over long distances without draining their batteries, you’ve probably heard of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). But what radio technology do you want to run on it? Some of the most popular options are Sigfox, Ingenu, and LoRaWAN.
Sigfox is popular throughout Europe and in parts of Asia. It’s useful only for the lowest bandwidth applications that need to send small and very infrequent bursts of data.
Sigfox controls every aspect of the network technology, and all messaging traffic is routed through their servers. This means that the success of IoT applications running on Sigfox networks is entirely dependent on Sigfox’s operational capacity and its organizational health.
With Sigfox, the devices are inexpensive, and the connectivity costs are low.
Ingenu Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) is a proprietary LPWAN technology stack developed by Ingenu. The RPMA architecture boasts strong uplink and downlink capabilities and operates in the globally-available 2.4GHz spectrum, most commonly used by Wi-Fi. This results in decreased range and reduced battery life.
Like Sigfox, applications running on Ingenu’s network are beholden to the company’s success. Service interruptions or organizational failures of the Ingenu software can lead to network and application failures.
Ingenu’s device costs are the highest of the three.
Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) has a much greater range than Ingenu, and a greater maximum data rate than Sigfox. Compared to other networks, its radio protocol is relatively simple to set up.
Another bonus is its support for global roaming-IoT devices that can connect to LPWANs around the world, moving between them as the devices travel.
LoRaWAN’s costs are on the low end of the spectrum. They are not as low as Sigfox’s, but LoRaWAN can transmit data significantly faster.
The Minute Details
If you’ve had enough coffee to handle the concept of cost-optimized picocells, here are the specifics:
Our Recommendation: LoRaWAN
LoRaWAN can transmit data over long distances cheaply, support multiple deployment types, roam freely, and support large-scale deployments, making it our choice for the best LPWAN radio technology.
With 57 network operators including Comcast, LoRaWAN is currently deployed in more than 100 countries around the world. It is the dominant LPWAN technology on the market today, enjoying the support of major technology companies such as IBM, Alibaba, Bosch, Cisco, and Nokia.
1 Based on the most recent public data as of September 2017
2 Current range of MachineQ pricing options, subject to change without notice
3 Based on the maximum range across publicly available data for both rural and urban ranges
4 Maximum payload of 242 bytes at SF7, the smallest possible payload of 11 bytes at SF10
5 Reserved internationally for the use of radio frequency energy for industrial, scientific, and medical purposes (ISM)
6 Number of IoT devices connected to the AT&T network
7 Complexity as defined by how much memory and processing power you need on your end device