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.