LoRa Lacuna

Lacuna, Semtech expand LoRaWAN IoT coverage through to satellite connectivity

Wireless and space technology companies collaborate to accelerate IoT adoption with what is described as affordable and simplified connectivity designed to expand further long-range, low-power comms standard

Analogue and mixed-signal semiconductors and advanced algorithms technology provider Semtech is announcing a joint initiative with Lacuna Space to further increase the coverage and resilience of LoRaWAN connectivity.

Designed for internet of things (IoT) use caseslow-power wide-area network (LPWAN) communications use unlicensed frequency bands to transmit data over a far longer range than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

It is regarded as being especially valuable for applications in hard-to-reach remote areas without cellular or Wi-Fi signals, where satellites fill connectivity gaps. Indeed, Semtech and Lacuna Space stress that since it is affordable and simple to install, LoRaWAN is a unique standard that is capable of bridging terrestrial networks with worldwide satellite connectivity to offer low-power ubiquitous connectivity to fill that gap.

Semtech’s LoRa device-to-cloud platform is a long-range, low-power service for IoT applications, enabling the development and deployment of low-power, cost-efficient and long-range IoT networks, gateways, sensors, module products and IoT services worldwide. Semtech’s LoRa devices provide the communication layer for the LoRaWAN protocol, which is maintained by the LoRa Alliance, a consortium of supporters of LPWAN applications of which the company is a founding member.

For its part, UK-based Lacuna Space provides global connections to sensors and mobile equipment in a network that it claims supports ubiquitous ultra-low cost tracking and detection for short data messages.

The collaboration is built on Long Range Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (LR-FHSS), the latest addition to the LoRaWAN standard. LR-FHSS is also described as unique as it takes up less room on the network, which future-proofs capacity while maintaining low-power consumption capabilities – which, in turn, enables affordable and simple satellite IoT platforms.

“The addition of LR-FHSS to the LoRaWAN standard further increases the capacity and resilience of ubiquitous connectivity,” said Marc Pégulu, vice-president of IoT product marketing and strategy for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. “Lacuna’s application of this affordable and simplified technology will further expand access to connection through their satellite technology.”

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“We now have trials and demonstrations underway in many countries and regions that were previously thought to be inaccessible to IoT,” added Lacuna Space CEO Rob Spurrett. “Our collaboration with Semtech and the enablement of its LR-FHSS device accelerates IoT adoption for a safer, more resilient and resource-efficient world. With this collaboration, we expect to begin commercial services in the first half of 2022.”

Yet despite the companies’ commitment to satellite technology, a study from GlobalData was cautioning that SpaceX’s Starship has the power to make or break the next phase of the space economy.

It added that as Elon Musk’s company scrambled to resolve production issues on its Raptor engines ahead of its orbital test flight in early 2022, the future of the company and the wider space economy hung in the balance.

If successful, Starship’s usable payload and quick turnaround would dismantle key commercial barriers to entry, unlocking future growth. Failure, the analyst warned, would likely irreparably shake investors’ faith in the industry.

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