Don’t believe the hype: cellular, and especially LTE, can’t do everything. There are situations when an alternative wireless technology is a far more suitable solution, such as in many IoT and M2M applications. One such approach is via low power wide area networks (LPWAN) and its various supporting protocols. Of these, LoRa is receiving an increasing amount of support.
Korea’s SK Telecom has announced that it joined the LoRa Alliance, the open, non-profit association whose mandate is to standardise LPWAN through the LoRaWAN protocol to enable IoT. It is the first Asian mobile carrier to join the LoRa Alliance, and the telco said that it will collaborate with other members to achieve the international standardisation of LPWAN. It also wants to build a partnership with global telcos that adopt LoRa’s LPWAN, and work with them to develop related products and services.
SK Telecom wants to use LoRa’s LPWAN protocol – which can transmit data over tens of kilometres while consuming much less power than cellular – to trial a range of B2B solutions, including location monitoring, trade area analysis and smart street light controls. The telco has also unveiled plans to promote the trial launch of what it calls ‘Internet of Small Things’ services, which include sensors and monitors for temperature, humidity, weight and location.
“As a member of the LoRa Alliance, SK Telecom will actively develop services applied with the LPWAN technologies to deliver new value to our customers through the Internet of Small Things,” said Lee Hyung-hee, President of Network Operations Business at SK Telecom. “We will make efforts to successfully launch a variety of trial services, with the aim to offer them to customers throughout the nation.”
However, SK Telecom is not abandoning the use of cellular for M2M and IoT connections. Last month, it entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Ericsson to collaborate on the development of LTE-based Machine Type Communications (LTE-M, or LTE-MTC is SK Telecom likes to call it).