LoRa bags Tencent as backer

Chinese internet giant Tencent is the latest company to join the LoRa Alliance, adding credibility to the technology which has perhaps been viewed as substandard to NB-IoT.

Tencent said in a statement it has been investing in LoRaWAN, most notably in building a LoRaWAN network in Shenzhen with local partners, but also in providing  device-edge-cloud LoRaWAN solutions on its network for a wide variety of IoT application and end users, such as government public services.

“It is clear that LPWANs are essential for the IoT technology and applications, and the market is quickly growing in China, especially in areas like government public services, industry manufacturing,

personal IoT devices, etc,” said Hongtao Bie, Vice President of Tencent Technologies.

“LoRaWAN has seen rapid growth, and we feel it is highly complementary to NB-IoT in the LPWAN market. Joining the LoRa Alliance will allow us to influence LoRaWAN development, advance IoT adoption, and strengthen our cloud business by building close partnerships with other LoRaWAN vendors around the world.”

The pros and cons of LoRa in comparison to Sigfox and NB-IoT have been much debated over the last few years, though it does seem NB-IoT is winning out. With the majority of telcos throwing weight behind NB-IoT, the influence of non-cellular technologies is starting to be diluted. There will of course be benefits with technologies such as LoRa, campus connectivity for unlicensed spectrum is one, but as data usage ramps up you can see why the telcos are nervous.

The danger lies with mission critical. LoRa might have a cost advantage, but without the licensed spectrum option, the telcos are justifiably tentative considering the potential damage to already battered spreadsheets. There are of course examples of telcos marrying the two technologies, Orange is producing some interesting initiatives in this area, though LoRa is not necessarily making the impact it had in mind. Maybe it is because it is a proprietary technology?

There will of course be use cases for the technology, and being able to throw around the Tencent logo as a supporter will also help.

Actility announces development of LoRa IoT ‘City Hub’ in Sweden

Low-power WAN specialist Actility has announced it’s working with Swedish fibre network operator Öresundskraft to develop a commercially neutral IoT connectivity platform.

The Open City Hub model involves the creation of an open access, commercially neutral network available to all companies or consumers in a given municipality. In this case the lucky recipient of a LoRa-powered IoT network will be Helsingborg, which looks set to be the first product of the StadshubbsAlliansen (City Hub Alliance) in Sweden.

“A Stadshubb is a regional LoRaWAN with an open and neutral wholesale business model for connectivity, which enables anyone who needs to communicate with LoRa sensors to do so easily, without having to build or operate their own infrastructure,” said Öresundskraft’s Bo Lindberg. “This significantly reduces the threshold for service providers and end users to establish IOT services and solutions, thus accelerating and simplifying digitalization in general and the development of the smart city in particular.”

“We’re very pleased to have been selected to partner Öresundskraft in the roll-out of this ground-breaking smart city infrastructure and innovative business model,” said Actility CEO Olivier Hersent. “An Open City Hub creates significant benefits for companies, residents and society in the region. It simplifies connectivity and enables key services, underpinned by secure LoRaWAN communication powered by ThingPark Wireless, delivering data to its owners’ cloud applications through a common horizontal infrastructure available to all on equal terms.”

This looks like a good win for Actility, not just for the work itself but as a case study of its approach to IoT connectivity platforms. The Swedes are famously good at collaborating over projects considered to be for the greater good so it’s hard to imagine a better place to try this sort of open wholesale model out.