Comcast appears to be going all in with the LoRaWAN standard for the internet of things: Formally joining the LoRa Alliance as a sponsor member, gaining a seat on the board and announcing it will host a big LoRa Alliance event in Philadelphia in June.
The moves are not totally out of the blue since Comcast in October announced its selection of LoRaWAN technology for its machineQ enterprise, low-power IoT network. The initial focus was on things like utility metering, environmental monitoring and asset tracking.
Taking a leadership role in the alliance will allow the nation’s second-largest multi-system operator (MSO) to collaborate more effectively with other members and provides Comcast with greater access to a range of ecosystem providers.
"As we continue to deploy the LoRaWAN protocol in the United States, the core technology is exceeding our expectations in terms of network propagation and coverage. We are seeing increasing demand and interest from a diverse client set," said Alex Khorram, general manager of machineQ, in a press release. "It's exciting to commence our formal membership with the Alliance by bringing its respected global membership to the city of Philadelphia. We believe there is significant value in driving international collaboration and growth opportunities for LoRaWAN technology."
Backers of LoRa have said they were optimistic that LoRa would grow its presence in the United States this year, as it has in Europe and Asia, going beyond operators conducting initial trials.
"Comcast's successful citywide deployment in Philadelphia exemplifies the power of standardizing LPWANs to fully realize the worldwide potential of IoT technology," said Geoff Mulligan, chairman of the LoRa Alliance, in the press release. "Comcast's decision to become a Sponsor member is a strong endorsement of LoRaWAN technology. Though it only formalized its membership last month, Comcast is already stepping up to help drive the Alliance because it believes in the value of collaborating to further the LoRaWAN protocol's global success."
Comcast will host the alliance's 8th All-Members Meeting, Open House and Marketplace Exhibition from June 12-14 at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
The first two days of the meeting are open to current members and will focus on ongoing collaboration to advance the LoRaWAN protocol's capabilities, with committee, working group and board meetings, as well as "marketplace" demonstrations by member companies.
On the third day, the event will open its doors to the community, prospective members, invited guests and journalists for an Open House and Smart City Summit. The Summit will begin with a keynote by Philadelphia municipal leaders, followed by presentations and panels from a range of experts involved in smart city trends, technology developments and deployments around the world.
Clearly, LoRa is among the many technologies vying for a piece of the smart city business. Comcast is also organizing a smart city-themed hackathon designed to bring together local startups, independent developers and universities to explore the capabilities and potential of LoRaWAN technology. The winning application concepts derived from the hackathon will be presented at the close of the Smart City Summit.
Last month, Verizon announced the nationwide rollout of LTE Category M1 for IoT, and AT&T is not far behind. The operators are positioning LTE Cat M1 as a game changer, allowing them to offer a secure, low-cost module technology with long battery life and better coverage inside buildings.