New report from Beecham Research calls for changes in enterprise IoT approach
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

A new report by Beecham Research, ‘An Introduction to LPWA Public Service Categories: Matching Services to IoT Applications’, has called for more emphasis on connectivity services for IoT rather than their underlying technologies.

The document aims to help enterprise companies to match Internet of Things (IoT) applications to the most appropriate public connectivity services to enable them. Beecham Research sees a growing opportunity for IoT applications that use very small amounts of data cost-effectively to drive the rapid introduction of LPWA technologies.

The report focuses on public services, being offered now or planned in the near future, which cater to this burgeoning range of very low data rate applications. These services include those from vendors such as SIGFOX, Ingenu and Senet, along with Weightless and LoRa-based services like KPN, Proximus and Orange and MNOs planning to offer cellular variants LTE-M and NB-IoT.

The report has also proposed definitions of new service attributes in terms that focus on what the services offer to the user, such as battery life and coverage, rather than on strictly technology attributes such as the frequency band being used. Beecham Research states that this is “on the basis that most users are not at all interested in and do not wish to know the technical detail” and that they want something that demonstrably works for them. The aim of this is to ensure that these service attributes can be easily correlated with the needs of the specific applications that users are looking for.

Also proposed through the report is a new name to refer to this new class of providers. Those offering LPWA-based connectivity services directly to users are referred to as Public LPWA Services Providers or LSPs. Where LSP services are enabled through a Cloud-based service – for example, to provide co-ordinated international coverage – the Cloud-based provider is referred to as an LSE (LPWA Services Enabler).

The report describes the Service Attributes that enterprise users will be looking for from LSPs to enable the applications they wish to implement. These are presented in three sections:

  1. Attributes deemed essential to be defined for the application, which are applicable to all applications.
  2. Attributes considered to be application-specific or enhanced features of the service which underpin the suitability of the service for a particular application
  3. A list of service ‘wraps’ which may be offered, such as Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Essential Attributes are as follows, in no particular order:

  • Battery Life
  • Transmit mode
  • Message delivery
  • Latency
  • Scalability
  • Data rate
  • Geographic coverage
  • Security
  • Device cost

Speaking at the M2M World Congress today in London, Robin Duke Woolley, CEO at Beecham Research and one of the report's authors, emphasised the importance of battery life, geographical coverage, device cost to users when selecting LPWA technologies. He also drew attention to application specific requirements such as in-building coverage, roaming/ubiquitous connectivity and geolocation.

"The IoT covers an increasingly wide range of applications and there is no ‘one-type-fits-all’ when it comes to connectivity required to enable them,” said Woolley. “If this emerging industry is to meet its potential and get anywhere close to the ambitious predictions made by some commentators, it’s time for greater clarity with more focus on the service attributes that IoT applications need. This includes key parameters such as battery life and coverage, rather than focusing on the underlying technologies and what frequency they operate at, for example. Most users are not interested in the technical details – they just want something that works in the most cost-effective way for their applications.”

“We believe that the continuing debate around IoT connectivity technologies rather than services is not helpful for the rapid market development being sought by the IoT industry,” adds Woolley. “Customers care about what they buy, much more than how it is built. Our report is aimed at helping users to make an informed decision, by being able to understand what is being offered in a way that relates to the applications they want to use.”

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