Orange to build LoRa-based IoT network from 2016

Orange said it will use LoRa (Long Range) technology as the basis for a new Internet of Things (IoT) network in France from next year.

The company plans to deploy a nationwide low power wide area (LPWA) network based on LoRa starting from the first quarter of 2016. The operator said it selected LoRa because it supports connectivity at a reduced rate of energy consumption and at a lower cost. It added that LoRa technology is especially useful for connecting sensors in smart cities.

When asked why it chose LoRa over Sigfox technology, for example, the company said LoRa is a more open technology, "which allows us to deploy our network and be interoperable to create an ecosystem of the IoT. We want to develop value-added services for our customers."

So far, Orange has tested LoRa technology during a large-scale trial in Grenoble involving more than 30 partners. It added that it would also continue to work on the standardisation of future cellular networks for the IoT, and said this would be operational in 2017 for 2G/4G and by 2022 for 5G.

CEO Stéphane Richard said the development of the IoT is expected to surge in the coming years, noting that the company expected more than 25 billion objects to be connected worldwide by 2020. The group is also targeting revenue of €600 million ($687 million) from IoT for 2018.

"As a part of our new strategic plan Essentials2020, Orange has an ambition to become the number one operator for the Internet of Things. To answer all the needs, we decided, as a supplement to the cellular networks, to deploy a national network dedicated to objects that need narrow-band connectivity, and also to low energy consumption. This network, based on the technology LoRa, will gradually open from the first quarter of 2016," Richard said.

Meanwhile in a separate announcement this week, Orange also unveiled four new own-brand LTE smartphones for the European market to add to its existing range of low-cost operator-branded devices.

The Orange Dive 70, Orange Nura 2, Orange Dive 30 and Orange Dive 50 come with an enhanced focus on security and user experience. For example, the operator has partnered with Keeper Security and Yahoo on the Dive 70, providing Yahoo Aviate's contextual home screen on the device.

Yves Maitre, executive vice president of the connected objects and partnership team at Orange Group, said: "Our design ethos for Orange smartphones is guided by four simple principles -- our phones have to be well priced, do everything customers need, provide them with peace of mind and ease of use and above all else, offer an Orange experience that they won't get anywhere else -- a smart choice with no compromises."

Orange noted that sales of its own range of smartphones grew by 48 per cent in Europe between 2013 and 2014. In the last quarter of 2014 alone, sales of Orange branded smartphones accounted for over 31 per cent growth compared to total smartphone sales growth of only 0.6 per cent in the same period.

For more:
- see this Orange release on LoRa
- see this Orange release on smartphones

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