LPWAN (Low-Power Wide Area Network) technology has undoubtedly been one of the biggest telecoms topics in 2017, and it looks like 2018 will be no different.
From its ability to flood dense locations with connectivity, to enabling the use of devices dependent on long battery life, the benefits of LPWAN are clear. It’s a technology that is capable of providing the connectivity solution to countless IoT use cases, and is set to have an increasingly important role in the ecosystem going forward – particularly for smart city deployments.
Analysts agree. ABI Research forecasts four billion IoT devices will rely on Low-Power Wide Area Networks by 2025, and has predicted this technology will become the fastest-growing connectivity segment in the market.
A standards battle
So, we can say pretty conclusively that LPWAN will continue to remain in the spotlight when it comes to IoT connectivity options. But the question the industry is asking is which LPWAN variant will become the go-to standard?
Although unlicensed technologies, like LoRaWAN, account for almost three quarters of LPWAN usage today, the message from analysts and the media alike is these solutions are set to be displaced by their licensed counterparts.
However, this doesn’t spell doom and gloom for LoRa. There are specific sectors, such as utilities and retail, where this standard is a perfect fit and will continue to thrive.
Given the steep competition, though, it is vital those involved with LoRa work to educate the market about the unique strengths of this particular standard and its evolving place in the IoT ecosystem.
Using PR to educate the market
At XYZ we’re partial to a bit of data crunching. We used a combination of industry research, organic search data, and our own in-house tools to build a picture of the current LPWAN media landscape and identify the opportunities for LoRa players.
The first port of call is Google Trends, which details the number of searches for a specific term over a set period of time (in this case, 12 months).
In the graph results we can see that, despite analyst forecasts, there is significantly more search interest in unlicensed LPWAN technologies, such as Sigfox and LoRaWAN, when contrasted with licensed alternatives.
But does influential media coverage reflect this?
Let’s look at LoRaWAN.
While a number of the top 25 titles covering LoRaWAN are those you would expect – Fierce Wireless and Computer Weekly, for example – a significant proportion of LoRaWAN news items (33.8%) stem from a newswire.
The downside of newswire coverage is that although it boosts visibility in the short term, it doesn’t have the long term value of editorial coverage. It falls off Google search results fairly quickly, and let’s be honest, who reads BusinessWire for the latest industry news?
However, before we reach a conclusion on how LoRa players should react, it is worth putting this data into context.
So, as the licensed variant generating the greatest volume of interest, we repeated the process to see how the NB-IoT media landscape shaped up in comparison to its LoRa counterpart.
The picture is significantly different.
In comparison, only 9.5% of coverage for NB-IoT sits on newswires, and there is a much heavier focus on editorial coverage. NB-IoT players are investing heavily into their marketing and PR campaigns to drum up visibility, to raise awareness of the benefits offered by this technology, and to associate themselves with it.
What does it all mean?
The takeaway for players in the LoRaWAN space is therefore one of opportunity.
The visibility benefits associated with moving away from a newswire strategy to an editorially-led approach, as demonstrated by NB-IoT players, means there’s a clear direction through which LoRa vendors can stake their claim. With LPWAN firmly on the industry agenda for 2018 and the number of IoT deployments rapidly growing, now’s the time to act and assert their position in the market.
If you’d like to see the broader findings of our research into LPWAN, you can find the analysis in our latest insight report.