IOT – so what’s new?!

Internet of Things (IOT), Internet of Everything (IOE), both buzz words of the minute. Confusing to some, scary to others, but what we as an industry group need to know, is that we have been delivering these sorts of systems for a long time now. Yes, ‘IOT’ has a more modern ring to it than “data over radio”, but RFUANZ members have been designing, deploying and supporting these long range, low powered, low band width networks to a range of customers for decades. SCADA & telemetry systems are case in point of this.

What we now need to do, is shift our thinking. And collaborate. The “new” technology that seems to be driving this phenomenon, is a group of wireless (radio) technologies known as ‘LPWAN’ (Low Powered, Long Range). Current & emerging LPWAN technologies such as LoRa (an open standards technology), SigFox (a proprietary technology), and NB-IOT (a carrier based IOT technology) are all key technologies that we MUST understand if we are to be able to take advantage of the growing momentum of ‘IOT’. It is then up to us as a traditional Radio Users industry to leverage our knowledge and expertise we have, and work alongside these new technologies.

Key aspects that are second nature to our industry’s engineers; frequency considerations, RF modelling and equipment and antenna design for example, are still paramount to these sorts of IOT wireless networks. We are still being asked to deliver information reliably and consistently, as we have done for many years.

The chart below shows how some of these Long Range, Low Power ‘IOT’ technologies compare with other wireless technologies that we as RFUANZ members may be more familiar with. As can been seen, the characteristics of LPWAN closely mirror those of our more traditional radio solutions. Through traditional analogue telemetry systems and more recently with data transmission over digital radio networks, we have been involved in systems share similar performance characteristics to these emerging LPWAN technologies, such as range, geographical coverage, power consumption, and bandwidth.

Figure 1: Comparison of Wireless IOT Technologies

Figure 2: Plotting of Bandwidth vs. Range for Key IOT Connectivity Layer Technologies

Our existing analogue and digital radio technologies are still well placed to deliver value in this day and age of ‘IOT’. And, more importantly, so are we. IOT is a currently used buzz word, however we should not be concerned about it, or it’s technologies. No, we should look at IOT as an opportunity, and a significant one at that. The key is to ensure our industry is able to leverage existing knowledge and expertise, learn and adapt to understand and master the new LPWAN technologies, and, collaborate. If we do this, we will continue to remain relevant to our customers and generate value across the segments we have been delivered these solutions to for many years. If we work together on this, there may even be opportunities to start delivering this value to new customer segments!

Logan Caulfield

Committee Member – RFUANZ

+64 274 989 240