The report, ‘An Introduction to LPWA Public Service Categories: Matching Services to IoT Applications’, also proposes a new name for this new class of providers. Those offering LPWA-based connectivity services directly to users are referred to as Public LPWA Services Providers or LSPs. Where LSP services are enabled through a Cloud-based service – for example, to provide co-ordinated international coverage – the Cloud-based provider is referred to as an LSE (LPWA Services Enabler).
“The IoT covers an increasingly wide range of applications and there is no ‘one-type-fits-all’ when it comes to connectivity required to enable them,” says Robin Duke Woolley, CEO at Beecham Research and one of the report authors. “If this emerging industry is to meet its potential and get anywhere close to the ambitious predictions made by some commentators, it’s time for greater clarity with more focus on the service attributes that IoT applications need. This includes key parameters such as battery life and coverage, rather than focusing on the underlying technologies and what frequency they operate at, for example. Most users are not interested in the technical details – they just want something that works in the most cost-effective way for their applications.”
Many IoT applications are well covered by traditional cellular connectivity, WiFi or Bluetooth, but the growing opportunity for IoT applications that use very small amounts of data cost-effectively is driving the rapid introduction of LPWA technologies. These are being used in a variety of ways – providing direct hardware connections, or for private and public network services. The Beecham Research report focuses on public services being offered now or planned in the near future, which cater to this burgeoning range of very low data rate applications. These services include those from vendors such as SIGFOX, Ingenu and Senet, along with LPWA-based services like KPN, Proximus and Orange and MNOs planning to offer cellular variants LTE-M and NB-IoT.
To be of value to users, the essential service attributes have been kept to the minimum required to ensure users get what they want for their applications. The Beecham Research report lists nine of these: battery life, transmit mode, message delivery, latency, scalability, data rate, geo-coverage, security and device cost. Additional application-specific attributes include: in-building coverage, roaming/ubiquitous connectivity and geo-location. The report then goes on to outline Service Attribute Wraps, which cover service features that could be offered by the Service Provider as part of an SLA.
“We believe that the continuing debate around IoT connectivity technologies rather than services is not helpful for the rapid market development being sought by the IoT industry,” says Duke Woolley. “Our report is aimed at helping users to make an informed decision, by being able to understand what is being offered in a way that relates to the applications they want to use.”