The world of the Internet of Things is evolving, and if it is an almost established reality in the United States, in Italy it is only beginning to be known and appreciated in recent years.
TheInternet of Things or IoT is at the service of different sectors, from purely industrial sectors such as energy and manufacturing, to automotive, health, wellness and home home automation. If for common devices such as PCs, smartphones and tablets, the wireless network consists of several technologies, such as wifi, bluetooth, LTE and 5g in the upcoming future, there is still no only wireless technology applicable to all IoT objects. The smart devices of the Internet of Things are, in fact, bound to engineering solutions created ad hoc, different from each other and dictated by the application context.
A unique and functional wireless network for IoT objects
Given the expansion of IoT objects, it is crucial to apply a unique and functional solution that represents the wireless network of reference for products within the Internet of Things world in a particular context. The 5g will be technology provided to users primarily by all phone carriers. While it covers a large number of applications, it will not be the only choice for all those IoT applications operating in large geographies, especially if remote. The reasons are different and the costs certainly curb the spread. While waiting for better 5G penetration, different wireless technologies have been developed for connectivity of IoT objects of one or more niches: LoraWAN, NB-IoT, LTE.
Technologies suitable for IoT objects
A wireless network for IoT objects must have some basic requirements: simple installation, low cost, reduced maintenance. These three aspects result in extensive coverage, simple configuration and hardware, massive production and high battery life. LoRaWAN is a low power wide area ( LPWA ) technology, suitable for different types of IoT applications. It guarantees coverage from 2 to 10 km, bi-directional and reachable even in indoor environments; the battery life is remarkable, more than 10 years, and allows data traffic of different profiles, both public and private. LoraWan also enjoys free licenses and common standards. Most IoT objects require low costs, low energy, and small volumes of data, which is why LoraWan is the best choice for these devices. In general, these are smart devices employed in home automation homes, logistics and transport services management, measurements and agriculture.
Reverse speech for the 4G Long Term Evolution ( LTE ) technology and the different Cat (categories) associated with it and referring to the high download speed, upload speed , low latency, and the ability to connect more objects over the network. Applications for health control, automotive safety, industrial control and smart automation are valid examples of areas where LTE connectivity is the most indicated. It is the technical characteristics of smart devices that determine the choice of wireless network for IoT objects. Reliability, low latency and wide availability are the main aspects that require a Cat 1/Cat M1 LTE connection.
Which wireless network technology to choose depending on the nature of IoT objects
In-depth knowledge of wireless technologies for IoT leads you to prefer one wireless network technology over another depending on application and context. In general, for most IoT objects that require low cost, low energy, and lower data volumes, you can rely on LoraWan. For “critical” IoT objects, mostly related to the industrial and automotive sectors, it is good to prefer Cat1/Cat M1 or NB-IoT LTE networks. The aspects to be assessed between the different options are the nature of the data, battery life, price and daily data traffic volume.
Depending on the wireless link length and the relationship between power consumption and data usage, you can choose the best technology for the smart object. For devices that require a long range, i.e. a longer connection length, the choices are LPWA technologies, such as LoraWAN, and LTE; on the contrary, a small range is well suited to WiFi, BLE, Zigbee, Z-Wave and the like. At equal range, if the volume of data to be transferred is low, you can opt for the LPWA (high range) or the BLE, Zigbee, Z-Wave (low range); on the contrary, for the transmission of more data, best choice, if the range is high, it is definitely cellular technology (LTE); WiFi if the range is low. Taking into account battery consumption, it can be claimed that an LPWA connection is more convenient than the cellular. These listed are the main factors that drive the choice of wireless network for IoT objects, but there are many others, even more technical and targeted at specialized figures.
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