LovePhy - Fotolia

MWC 2017: Standard allows for LoRaWAN roaming

A LoRa Alliance draft standard will allow wider collaboration and cross-border use cases for long range WAN IoT network operators by enabling roaming

Long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) software suppliers Actility and Sagemcom have collaborated to enable roaming between LoRaWAN networks, based on an early implementation of a draft standard proposed by the LoRa Alliance, the industry body behind LoRaWAN technology.

Also widely known as low power WAN (LPWAN), the technology is specialised for connecting devices that require little bandwidth, and is focused instead on range and power efficiency, which makes it a key connectivity standard for many enterprise internet of things (IoT) cases. Many LoRaWANs are in operation around the world.

“The standardisation team working on roaming at the LoRa Alliance has done a fantastic job in specifying all the needed elements, from provisioning to key management and ‘back office’ functions, to enable roaming between LoRaWAN networks,” said Actility founder and CTO Olivier Hersent.

“We have seen a very strong pull from communication service provider customers, so Actility has invested heavily to bring an early implementation of the latest stable draft specification to market and gain practical experience as soon as possible, as you can see in our demonstration,” he added.

“Our implementation enables network sharing and roaming between LoRaWAN networks using ThingPark Wireless IoT core network platform, and networks equipped with SagemCom and other standard compliant network servers.”

The LoRA Alliance believes the addition of roaming capability, which was announced at Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC) in Barcelona, means that operators can enhance coverage within countries by network sharing, and enable seamless international use for enterprises that cross national borders.

By enhancing collaboration between multiple networks, offering increased capacity and extending device battery life in areas where overlapping LoRaWAN networks exist, roaming will let operators get more out of their network estate.

By allowing devices to connect to different networks depending on their location, it also makes use cases, such as baggage monitoring or shipment tracking, that require data to be sent from sensors moving all around the world more viable.

A number of network operators are lining up to incorporate roaming features into their offerings, including Inmarsat, which recently extended the capabilities of its satellite network to make LoRaWAN connectivity available from any of its ground stations. Orange, which hopes to focus more deeply on cities, harbours and industrial sites with enhanced networks, is also interested.

Read more from MWC 2017

Tim Chen, president of Asia-Pacific Telecom, said: “LPWAN is a core technology for the future of industry globally, and the dynamic manufacturing base which drives the Taiwanese economy is already turning to the IoT to optimise supply chain and logistics.

“The early availability of roaming, as demonstrated by Actility at MWC, and the global technology platform they now provide, is key to extending our solutions worldwide as quickly as possible.”

Jasper Snijder, executive vice-president of new business at Dutch telco KPN, added: “The IoT doesn’t stop at national borders. For many cases, such as asset tracking, it is important for our customers that things remain connected across the globe.

“As the first operator in the world with a LoRaWAN network covering the entire country, we are soon going to be able to offer our customers multi-national LPWAN connectivity and coverage.”

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)