Swisscom backs LoRa in plans for nationwide IoT network

Swisscom detailed plans to deploy a dedicated low power Internet of Things (IoT) network throughout Switzerland, saying the network would be the first on the market to be designed solely for the purpose of connecting 'things'.

The operator said it plans to complete its initial deployment by the end of 2016 as it begins to prepare for an explosion in the number of connected objects in the coming years. Swisscom said the low power IoT network is based on the LoRa Alliance's LoRaWAN industry standard, and will pave the way for smart city services, energy efficient buildings, machine-to-machine (M2M) networking, and new digital applications.

Christian Petit, head of Swisscom enterprise customers, explained that the dedicated network is needed since multiple studies have predicted that billions of devices will be connected in the coming years. "In many cases, we only need devices to be able to transmit the smallest units of information," he said, adding that the network will enable the company to "efficiently network objects such as fire hydrants, bicycles, umbrellas and much more."

In a statement, Swisscom noted that the network will run at a narrow bandwidth, enabling it to offer a wide reach while achieving energy efficient transmission. Crucially, the dedicated IoT network will also reduce networking costs, it said.

The operator plans to utilise existing transmitter sites to form part of the dedicated IoT network. Doing so will enable the operator to cover 80 per cent of Switzerland's population with outdoor IoT coverage by the end of this year. Swisscom also plans to offer partial indoor coverage in 10 cities by the year-end.

Swisscom's low power IoT network will utilise the non-licensed SRD band, and will use a maximum of 0.5 watts when transmitting information.

The operator is moving ahead with the dedicated network following a pilot in 2015.

Swisscom is the latest operator to back LoRa as a low power wide area (LPWA) technology for IoT applications. Orange is also preparing to build an IoT network using the standard in 2016, while UAE operator du selected it for a trial announced in September 2015.

Such backing for LoRa could be crucial for the technology. Machina Research in January predicted that 2016 would see a major shake out of the LPWA sector this year, with at least one of the current batch of technologies set to fall by the wayside.

For more:
- see this Swisscom announcement

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