One of the questions about LPWA radio access for IoT services has been the issue of which radio technology infrastructure owners will deploy. With the candidates roughly breaking down into Sigfox, LoRaWAN and the pending 3GPP cellular versions (NB-IoT, EC-GSM), plus some other proprietary variants, operators of the networks themselves are making technology choices right now.
The knock-on of this is that it creates a fragmentation for device and sensor manufacturers. Naturally, if you make an IoT module or device, you don’t want to lock your customer into a specific technology, if you can help it. You can of course sell different versions of the same device – a Sigfox variant and a LoRa variant – that your customer can buy and then plug into a Sigfox or LoRa network. But what if that customer then wants to change their access supplier, or what if another network provider starts providing better offers? You are stuck with the physical access technology embedded in the device. Or are you?
Well, one parking sensor manufacturer has been persuaded to get around the issue by designing two radios into the sensor. Libelium has both LoRWAN and Sigfox chipsets in its new Waspmote Plug&Sense! Smart Parking sensor, that can connect to both the European 868 MHz band and the 900-930 MHz band (US/Canada).
The company spokesperson told us: “Our device has 2 radio chipsets, one for Sigfox (by Telecom Design) and one for LoRaWAN (by Microchip). The user can decide if he wants to use one, the other or both of them. That is great for making decisions on connectivity: Sigfox or LoRaWAN? That can be configured from a PC desktop application (with USB cable) but also from the Remote Manager, from the cloud, in a wireless way.”
Libelum said that the remote management capability gives the user the ability to change which radio is in use, or even use both simultaneously.
“We are partners with both Sigfox and LoRaWAN. We do not prefer one or the other, but it is clear for us that they are the leaders of LPWAN. So we just want to give both options to customers,” the company said.