Topic #1: Industrial Internet of Things: Will 5G take over LoRaWAN any time soon?
First, it’s important to distinguish Industrial IoT and IoT for industry, which are two sets of technologies, both key in industrial transformation 4.0. Industrial IoT is concerned with the use of data from production machines to optimise production processes. From these extracted data, analysis is not done in form of time series but on a product axis with a pivot based on a digital twin of the production process.
From a network point of view, in the Industrial IoT world, wired connections currently dominate the market, but we are seeing an evolution towards wireless links which offer more flexibility and allow for example to address the case of mobile robots. These robots are increasingly used in the industrial and logistic world for the transport of components between stages of the production process. In addition, production machines themselves will be required to communicate wirelessly in the future to allow greater flexibility in the organisation of a production area which support the wireless connection thesis.
Wi-Fi 6 dominates the field in this matter, but this technology is not very scalable in an industrial context. It is also too subject to external impacts that could be fatal to a production unit.
The industrial world needs quality of service on its networks to ensure that orders sent to automatons are considered in real time. The future is moving towards the use of private 5G because this technology comes from the world of telecoms where the transmission of voice and image does not tolerate variations in response times.
Does this mean that the future of wireless networks in the industrial world is limited to the use of 5G? Not really, in fact, if the field of IIoT, which relies on large volumes of data (big data) and supports highly critical processes should retain 5G in the first place, the field of IoT for industry is quite different.
IoT for industry is already dominated by LoRaWAN technologies, which are already widely used in industry and meet several criteria such as low cost, low maintenance, low-cost infrastructure, and wide availability of sensors.
In the end, each technology has its own target use in relation to its capabilities and operating cost. Care must be taken to ensure each is used in the right context while taking advantage of the best economic fit.
Topic #2: Is there an alternative to cellular connectivity solutions for businesses with remote assets?
Today’s businesses operate globally, and many of their assets are located in remote areas with limited connectivity. Moreover, terrestrial communication services only cover about 15% of the Earth's surface. This opens a huge opportunity for satellite IoT connectivity.
The number of Satellite IoT connectivity subscribers surpassed 5 million in 2021, according to the Satellite IoT Connectivity Market Report 2022-2026 published by IoT Analytics. Furthermore, over 80% of global satellite IoT connectivity revenues are generated by satellite operators (Inmarsat, Iridium, ORBCOMM, and Globalstar). New players providing low-power and low-cost IoT connectivity via LEO-based small satellite constellations, on the other hand, are expected to gain traction and account for 20% of the global market by 2026.
Satellite technologies are being modernised, launch costs are falling dramatically and, at the same time, IoT applications are expanding rapidly. The companies' project provides low-cost IoT connectivity in areas where terrestrial networks cannot reach. The connected objects include a low-power chipset, which is a radio chip that connects to satellites, allowing the object to be geolocated wherever it is and to access data collected by sensors.
Indeed, satellites offer unique advantages for connecting IoT assets, providing truly ubiquitous coverage that can reach objects with limited or no access to terrestrial networks. The combination of satellite technology and terrestrial IoT will be the answer to what businesses need to ensure connectivity to their assets, wherever they are.
There are numerous potential applications for IoT networks in agriculture, transportation and logistics, maritime, networks and infrastructures, and humanitarian aid. Satellites enable asset tracking by monitoring assets around the world; ranging from the monitoring of power plants and oil and gas pipelines, to farming operations and Smart Cities.
Finally, the New Space and its democratisation of satellite communications is converging with the IoT ecosystem to achieve a natural and competitive integration between satellite and terrestrial networks. Hybridisation between terrestrial networks and satellites holds the promise of being able to deploy services and uses anywhere in the world, without the need to go through a multitude of players, which is a real simplification factor for users.