Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

White paper looks at benefits of combining wifi and LoRa

Steve Rogerson
October 2, 2019
A white paper from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and the LoRa Alliance explores IoT use cases incorporating both wifi and LoRaWan technologies.
Mobile operators, enterprises, cities and other key IoT market players can gain access to a wealth of IoT use cases by combining the two unlicensed connectivity technologies, as illustrated in the white paper from the WBA and the LoRa Alliance.
Developed with input from mobile carriers, telecom equipment manufacturers and advocates of both connectivity technologies, the white paper illustrates business opportunities that are created when wifi networks that are traditionally built to support critical IoT are merged with LoRaWans that are traditionally built to support low data rate massive IoT applications.
Massive IoT applications are less latency sensitive and have relatively low throughput requirements, but they require a huge volume of low-cost, low-energy consumption devices on a network with good coverage, which can be achieved with wifi networks. The paper addresses the growing popularity of IoT use cases in domains that rely on connectivity spanning large areas that are able to handle a huge number of connections, driving the demand for massive IoT technologies.
According to the paper, wifi connectivity covers short- and medium-range use cases at high data rates and may require more power, making it the preferable technology for people-centric mains-powered applications such as real-time video and internet browsing.
Meanwhile, LoRaWan covers long-range use cases at low data rates, making it the preferable technology for low bandwidth applications, including in hard-to-reach locations, such as temperature sensors in a manufacturing setting or vibration sensors in concrete.
When used with one another, wifi and LoRaWans optimise a number of IoT use cases, including:

  • Smart building and hospitality: Both technologies have been deployed for decades throughout buildings, with wifi used for things such as security cameras and high-speed internet, and LoRaWan for smoke detection, asset and vehicle tracking, room usage and more. The paper identifies two scenarios for convergence of wifi and LoRaWan – accurate asset tracking and location services for indoor or near buildings, and on-demand streaming for devices with battery limitations.
  • Residential connectivity: Wifi is used to connect billions of personal and professional devices in homes, while LoRaWan is used for home security and access control, leak detection, and fuel tank monitoring, and other applications. The paper recommends deploying LoRaWan picocells that leverage wifi backhaul to the user set top box to expand coverage of home services to the neighbourhood. These neighbourhood IoT networks can support geolocation services, while also serving as a communication backbone for demand-response services.
  • Automotive and smart transportation: Currently, wifi is used for passenger entertainment and access control, while LoRaWan is used for fleet tracking and vehicle maintenance. Hybrid use cases identified in the paper include location and video streaming.
The paper also outlines a number of deployment models and details front- and back-end integration and security processes. Additionally, it provides several testimonials from organisations regarding the power of their wifi and LoRaWan deployments.
“Wifi and LoRaWan are two important technologies utilising the unlicensed spectrum, and they already address a large proportion of IoT use cases,” said Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the WBA. “The deployment synergies paper highlights the ways in which these technologies are impacting private-public business models and enabling IoT services, while also identifying ways in which the technologies complement one another and can be used to further expand the internet of things.”
Co-written by members of the WBA IoT Work Group and the LoRa Alliance, input for the paper was provided by a number of companies and organisations, including: BT, Boingo, BSG Wireless, Charter Communications, Connexin, Eleven-X, ER-Telecom, Orange, Tata Communications, Unity Media, Objenious, Semtech, Syniverse, Abeeway, Actility, BSG, Kerlink, Maxima Telecom, Microshare, Orbiwise, Senet, Siradel, Skyhook Multi-Tech, Centre for Development of Telematics and Digital Catapult.
“The reality is that no one single technology is going to fit the billions of IoT use cases,” said Donna Moore, CEO and chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance. “It is collaborative initiatives like this one with wifi that will drive innovation to solve important issues, leverage an even broader range of applications and, ultimately, ensure the success of global mass IoT deployments in the future.”
The WBA and LoRa Alliance say they intend to continue exploring the convergence of wifi and LoRaWan technologies.