LPWANs: can proprietary and cellular technologies co-exist in this crowded battlefield?

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies dubbed low power wide area (LPWA) networks are deemed a critical element in the platforms that will in future support the burgeoning range of connected objects with long battery lives and low data rate requirements.

Proprietary technologies such as Sigfox, Ingenu and LoRa have already made clear their ambitions to become globally available standards for public LPWA networks using unlicensed spectrum. They now face increasing competition from so-called cellular IoT technologies that fall under the 3GPP standardisation umbrella and will operate in licensed spectrum.

Steve Hilton, co-founder and managing director of research and analyst firm MachNation, describes it rather well: "The LPWA world is a bit like a nicely prepared minestrone," he said. "Stir the bowl a little bit and up pops another surprising vegetable you didn't see a moment ago."

The question is: how many of these various standards will exist in future? Will proprietary options eventually be pushed out by the cellular standards, or can a number of different standards continue to co-exist?

In our latest special report, we ask some of the leading analysts in this sector as well as a number of market players to give their views about the future development of the LPWA market.--Anne

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