Which network(s) for our connected objects?
They are happy talking to us and amongst themselves, but connected objects need ambient and adapted connectivity in order to do it. At Orange, we’re proactively investing in building the right IoT networks for today and tomorrow. Here’s an overview of their advantages and uses.
LoRa®: low-power, low-bandwidth network dedicated to IoT
For many smart applications, especially in sectors such as health, industry or agriculture (patient monitoring, predictive maintenance, livestock management, soil moisture control…), connected devices need strong autonomy but only low speeds to communicate (usually a few kb/s are enough). The LoRa® (meaning Long Range) network is 100% suitable. With its ultra-long range (up to 30km in rural areas), it provides low-speed connectivity with low power consumption and good penetration into buildings and basements, enabling new uses to be developed.
That’s why we have invested in LoRa® technology, and a network that already covers 4,000 towns and industrial sites in France as of June 2017. The aim is to continue deployment and achieve national coverage by the end of 2017. What’s more, the Group is a member of the LoRa AllianceTM, a non-profit association that brings together numerous IoT operators and stakeholders to ensure compatibility between connected objects and ensure that technology is standardised worldwide.
LTE-M: carried over the mobile network
Some complex uses, such as asset tracking, remote monitoring, telematics and automotive, require higher data speeds and lower latency: a need met by LTE-M technology. This is an evolution of 4G mobile networks that can be implemented fairly easily by updating the software controlling the 4G antennas and network equipment.
Avec de nombreux opérateurs, nous soutenons le développement du LTE-M notamment en Belgique et en Espagne. Le Groupe a également lancé le premier Open IoT Lab sur le LTE-M en Europe. Celui-ci propose notamment aux fabricants IoT des équipements réseau afin de tester leurs objets connectés, la mise à disposition d’un kit de démarrage IoT et le soutien d’experts techniques, de designers et de spécialistes du marketing.
We’re supporting LTE-M development with many operators, especially in Belgium and Spain. The Group has also launched the first Open IoT Lab focused on LTE-M in Europe. This offers IoT manufacturers the network equipment they need to test their connected devices, along with an IoT starter kit and support from technical experts, designers and marketing specialists.
Li-Fi: a “luminous” complementary technology
Some connected objects also require a low-energy network that doesn’t generate electromagnetic interference. Examples include smart city applications such as the LEDs used in street lamps or building lights that can be linked up to a communications network. The technology behind it is called Li-Fi or Light Fidelity, which is carried over the optical spectrum. It uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to transmit the data. Clearly it’s a bright idea!
Whole neighbourhoods can use this cutting-edge technology very economically and it’s already being marketed.
5G: the multi-use network of the future
One network can be used to connect them all: that’s what 5G promises for IoT when it starts rolling out in 2020.
Both powerful and flexible, it will be as suitable for connecting a smartphone using broadband as a connected device requiring little bandwidth. 5G will also integrate a critical IoT component for connecting up strategic and demanding objects with maximum reliability and minimum latency. This is necessary for medical equipment, driverless cars or industrial applications for example!
Because it’s highly adaptable, 5G will only activate when the connection is needed, thus promising greater energy efficiency. That’s why, after the first four years or research, we’ve started field tests in partnership with several manufacturers including Ericsson and Nokia. At the same time, the Group has actively collaborated on defining a 5G standard within the global 3GPP association.
5G’s IoT functionality, low speed or critical, will be available from 2022, allowing for increased usage and democratisation.