Communication technologies for the Internet of Things are available now. Smart homes and cities, disaster forecasting – a lot can be done without waiting for 5G.
In the mass consciousness, 5G is a symbolic thing in itself, a figurative concentrate of new technologies. The introduction of communication of this generation in Ukraine, experts cautiously predict in five years. At the same time, the speed of mobile Internet and 4G, as a rule, is sufficient to solve most tasks, including the most common – watching videos and online games.
It is important to understand that 5G is not just a transition to the next generation of communication (3G, 4G, 5G), but an exit to a qualitatively new level. Implementing 5G is an order of magnitude more expensive than the 3G / 4G standard. It is unprofitable for mobile operators to invest in the development of 5G in Ukraine, as our tariffs remain among the lowest in the world. And there are no market niches for the mass use of 5G, for example, for unmanned vehicle control systems.
In addition to new opportunities for ordinary users, the introduction of 5G is expected to explode the Internet of Things (IoT) and, in particular, smart city technologies. The Internet of Things is something that is now heard by everyone who is even slightly interested in technological innovations. It is implied that it is the 5G connection that must ensure the communication of a huge number of intelligent devices.
However, in many cases, some of the 5G specifications for LPWAN (Low-power Wide-area Network) are redundant, uneconomical, and sometimes simply unacceptable. This is not the most energy efficient technology, and is only available through mobile operators – the lack of freedom of choice for the user (building a private local infrastructure), which in the context of smart city devices and industrial automation plays an important role.
The solution for many applications is the open LoRaWAN protocol, based on extremely attractive and efficient LoRa modulation.
What is the essence of technology
Figuratively speaking, LoRaWAN wireless technologies are like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but with a range of up to 10 or more kilometers from a transmitter with extremely high energy efficiency. Another key difference between them in addition to the range and the most important – from 5G networks – is that LoRaWAN provides the ability to build a private “local” network to solve IoT problems or use the service of LoRaWAN providers, and leaves the possibility of using the radio to transmit local messages between devices.
A typical use of LoRaWAN is a battery-powered wireless device that can operate autonomously for many years, in some cases up to 10 years.
LoRaWAN can be used for monitoring “smart” power grids, transport and cargo tracking, monitoring of industrial equipment, data collection from accounting systems, smart parking. In intelligent street lighting systems, for automatic collection of data from agricultural lands and in many other spheres.
You don’t need a lot of bandwidth to track, for example, water and electricity consumption. Smart meters in homes and various sensors on city streets require the transmission of small blocks of information only once or twice a day.
LoRaWAN solutions are available now, and there are many successful cases in the world using this proven and mature technology. LoRaWAN communication services are provided by about 40 operators in more than 250 cities in several dozen countries.
How it works from a business perspective
The client expects a solution that fits his budget. He wants smart parking, not 5G smart parking. He wants to know if there is a leak in his building, not a 5G sensor that can detect leaks. LoRaWAN is perfect for such tasks.
The parameters of signal penetration through walls and other barriers will deteriorate when switching to higher frequencies on which 5G operates. At the same time, the permeability of buildings for LoRa is much higher.
The single 5G standard has yet to be officially approved. The 3GPP consortium, which is implementing 5G internationally, plans to complete the development of specifications by the end of 2019. And the target year for the commercial deployment of IoT networks is 2020, according to the schedule of the Alliance of Mobile Networks of the new generation NGMN. Let’s consider possibilities of LoRaWAN on examples.
In Amsterdam, with an area of 219 km2, 10 base stations were installed. The cost of deploying the LoRaWAN network was only $ 12 thousand. Sensors in garbage containers will be able to notify utilities about the need to remove waste, to optimize and independently control the quality of service. Motorists will receive alerts on roadside electronic boards about free spaces in parking lots and charging stations for electric cars nearby. Smoke detectors in a “smart” house will immediately notify the owner with a smartphone about the need to call or call emergency services.
Cleanliness of the environment
In Glasgow, sensors that monitor pollution have been able to reduce emissions. Stationary monitoring points were supplemented with modern sensors. Constant monitoring stations are very expensive. And mobile systems based on LoRaWAN are not only cheaper, but can also be deployed in many parts of the city. This will identify the most contaminated points and sources of contamination.
Binary Beer has developed smart kegs that can report the quality and quantity of leftover beer. The sensors monitor the level of filling, environmental conditions such as humidity and temperature, which affect the quality of the product.
This allows restaurants to know in advance when the beer is over and order a new keg. Another problem that has been solved is to get rid of beer that was stored incorrectly and spoiled.
Natural disaster forecasting
In Przemyśl, Poland, on the border with Ukraine, sensors based on LoRaWAN technology have been installed to monitor the water level in the San River. City officials receive reliable and up-to-date data on river water levels, soil moisture and other parameters that are needed to forecast floods.
Saving money of agricultural producers
The possibilities of using LoRaWAN in the agricultural sector are very promising. The agricultural sector forms about 17% of Ukraine’s GDP and is gradually becoming the main driver of growth in our economy.
Here is a successful foreign case. Senet and Sensoterra have announced a partnership to manage their soil moisture. Previously, most sensors were connected by wires, which made the implementation of the system expensive. Senet and Sensoterra solutions provide real-time soil moisture data. This ensured efficient water consumption. The free app is available for smartphones, laptops and tablets.