LoRa WAN: A Network for Everybody

Smart Communication

LoRa WAN: A Network for Everybody

The ecosystem of connectivity solutions is very competitive in these still-early days of IoT. Senet has rolled out their own LoRa WAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) solutions for the low-power, broad-network needs of IoT, providing coverage and connectivity readiness in over 80 countries and 225 cities across the U.S. We sat down with Senet’s president and CEO, Bruce Chatterley, to talk about where he sees LoRa as a connectivity option of preference, where growth will happen, and how he sees this new network infrastructure growing out.

Massively scaled connected device volume will come from ordinary business activities but yield revolutionary results.
Bruce Chatterley, CEO, Senet
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What types of vertical applications are you seeing the most demand for when rolling out your networks?
We’ve been experiencing rapid growth and increasing demand across several vertical markets, driven in part by an approach to delivering network connectivity which has moved away from prospective “network rollouts” to a model of on demand network expansion based on the unique geographical and application-specific connectivity needs of customers and partners.

So where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth in IoT?
Water metering and management applications are an area of explosive growth. Opportunity in this segment includes proposed network designs for over 60 cities across the United States, representing over 2 million potential water meters. Other vertical segments where we are seeing notable demand include tank monitoring for residential and commercial propane, agriculture and retail applications, Smart City applications, including indoor and outdoor asset tracking, waste bin monitoring, pest control and smart parking, agriculture and environmental applications, including soil monitoring, irrigation, precipitation water level and environmental monitoring for flood conditions, cold chain applications, for example in hospitals to monitor the storage temperature of medicines, as well as industrial and Smart Building applications like leak detection, steam trap monitoring, and backflow and valve monitoring for a variety of industrial applications.

What are the key barriers to scale that you see?
The only way to achieve the scale predicted for the Internet of Things is to have network and device management solutions available that can drive and support rapid growth. For example, the process of activating new IoT devices needs automation, or zero-touch deployment. You need to be able to automate registering the device to the network (by simply pressing a button), check that it is transmitting data, and then leave it for ten years.

What are some of the more interesting use cases you’re seeing right now?
Massively scaled connected device volume will come from applications that instrument ordinary or mundane business activities but yield revolutionary results. Examples include things like tank monitoring, steam trap monitoring, and rodent control, which on their face may not seem “interesting”, but when automated with IoT technologies can deliver significant productivity enhancements, cost savings, and business benefits.
We also believe IoT technology is driving global change, creating new opportunities for innovation, the environment, and society and enabling businesses and citizens to make the world a better place. We are seeing applications in agriculture, water conservation, air quality monitoring, traffic management, and public safety experiencing interesting growth opportunities.

Why LoRa over other technologies?
Senet was founded in 2009 (then known as EnerTrac) and originally addressed a very specific IoT use case – automated monitoring of propane tanks in the residential environment. Our solution comprised a combination of network, sensors, and an application for fuel delivery companies. We realized that LoRa was the best technology to address our tank monitoring application requirements, supporting cost-effective wide-area coverage, low-cost hardware, long battery life for sensors and end devices, strong propagation characteristics, and secure communications. We grew that business dramatically over a number of years and that formed the foundation of our knowledge base. By 2014, the company had built out an expansive LoRaWAN network for its tank monitoring business and formed Senet to expand the applications of its LoRa network. Since then, the increasing demand for a wide variety of Low Power Wide Area IoT applications has driven LoRa to become the de facto industry standard for LPWA IoT networks.

LoRa WAN - Deployment Map

Stretching Out: Senet is the first firm to get FCC certification for LoRaWAN sensors and gateways and is finding growing traction for an array of applications. Its network now extends across North America, South America, and Australia while covering the majority of nations spread across Eurasia.

Who will ultimately be the infrastructure providers?
One of the most interesting aspects of the LoRa WAN protocol and open ecosystem of the LoRa Alliance is the advent of the non-traditional network operator. In the cellular world, operators require massive funds to bear the capital requirements to deploy the network and purchase the licensed spectrum on which to operate it. In the world of LoRa WAN, anyone can be a network operator by approaching any aspect of the technology stack and compete on their merits. Senet is a founding member of the LoRa Alliance. What was your motivation for creating the Alliance and being a part of it?
We believe that open standards and broad ecosystem participation create a larger market opportunity than proprietary closed technologies and systems. The openness of both the LoRaWAN specification and the LoRa Alliance has nurtured an ever growing ecosystem of technology and solution providers, which has brought a building momentum to IoT deployments around the globe. We see this ecosystem, the open specification, and the resulting competitive market as key drivers to the success of both the technology and our own go-to-market strategy. We continue to participate and collaborate with the LoRa Alliance, with strategic voices in the key committees and working groups.

What type of LoRaWAN networks do you see being the most popular in the short and long terms – private, hybrid, or public?
The IoT market is being driven by customers with unique geographical and application-specific connectivity needs. These varying requirements demand flexibility in how networks are deployed and managed. To support the broadest set of customers and IoT applications, Senet offers a suite of cloud-based network connectivity platforms and services to support both public and public/private hybrid networks. We believe truly private IoT networks can be more limiting than beneficial and strongly urge enterprises and organizations considering private networks to engage in discovery about the scale, security, and business advantages of public and public/private hybrid network models, especially as related to LoRa WAN technology. In both the short and long term, we believe demand for flexibility in IoT network architectures will result in the equal opportunity for growth across multiple deployment scenarios.

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