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IBM and Semtech bolster IoT with low power networking technology

Nurdianah Md Nur | March 12, 2015
To further support, develop and standardise the long range wide-area networks, the two companies will set up a new standards association called the Lora Alliance.

To aid the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), IBM Research and Semtech have jointly rolled out a new technology based on low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) called LoRaWAN (Long Range wide-area networks).

Since LoRaWAN taps on unlicensed wireless spectrum, the technology can connect sensors over long distances while offering optimal battery life and requiring minimal structure, according to a joint press release. This allows it to deliver benefits including improved mobility, security, bi-directionality, localisation/positioning,and lower costs.

IBM and Semtech explained that LoRaWAN sensors can communicate over distances of more than 100km in favorable environments, 15km in typical semi-rural environments, and more than 2km in dense urban environments at data rates from 300 bit/s up to100 kbit/s. This makes them well suited for sending small amounts of data, such as GPS coordinates and climate readings, where broadband can't reach.

The sensors also require very little energy to operate -- most can run for 10 years or more on a single AA battery. In terms of security, the sensors use Advanced Encryption Standard -128 (AES128) to prevent communication tampering and eavesdropping, added IBM and Semtech.

Lora Alliance to support LoRaWAN
To further support, develop and standardise LoRAWAN, IBM, Semtech and other companies will be setting up a new association called the Lora Alliance.

 The LoRa Alliance aims to combine hardware and software based on the LoRaWAN standard for telecom operators and network operators, enabling them to offer IoT services to both businesses and consumers. By doing so, connecting devices - be it sensors, machines or wearables - could soon be as seamless as sending a short message service (SMS) to a local telecom provider.

 "IoT is already changing our world -- from better traffic control on our highways, to greater energy efficiency in buildings and manufacturing operations, to reduced crime on our city streets," said Thorsten Kramp, master inventor at IBM Research. "Technology advancements like LoRaWAN will help significantly advance that vision by extending the reach, range and longevity of sensors that make up an intelligent world."


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