The Internet of Things (IoT) is considered to be one of the hottest topics among people interested in new IT-related technologies. Many think that this is one of the biggest changes that will happen to people in modern times. Different types of meters and controllers communicating with each other can significantly affect our lifestyle. Automatic regulation of lighting, heat generation, ventilation, but also all kinds of measurements, such as energy and water consumption, are bound to not only make it easier to manage, but also contribute to financial savings. All this has long been used in many industrial projects and office buildings. However, now, thanks to the lower costs of manufacturing such devices and installing microcontrollers in refrigerators, ovens, etc., there is a chance that these solutions will appear in every household. One of the key elements necessary to implement this type of projects is a comfortable, secure and effective wireless communication protocol such as LwM2M that allows devices connecting to our IoT network to be able to communicate with a central computer.
Already, there are many technologies that compete to be the most effective in the IoT market. Let’s have a quick look at the most interesting ones:
NB-IoT, or more specifically LTE Cat NB1 (NB-IoT) Release 13, is a technology approved in June 2016 by the 3GPP organization developing standards in the field of wireless mobile communication. Using LTE network architecture, NarrowBand IoT utilizes only a portion of LTE radio resources (hence the name “narrowband”) to communicate with Internet of Things devices. The maximum data transmission speed is then obviously lower, but the network capacity is significantly improved.
LoRaWAN is a LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) type of network, whose basic infrastructure element is a gateway connected to the Internet (base station). What’s interesting is that network end nodes do not support Internet Protocol. LoRaWAN operates at frequencies below 1 GHz, thanks to which it has a large range (at the cost of a lower transmission speed than in the case of the 2.4 GHz band).
The maximum range of the base station is from 15 km in an undeveloped area to about 2 km in a highly urbanized area. One base station can support up to 20,000 devices. The transmission speed is from 0.3 to 50 kbps, depending on the availability of the communication means. Wireless security is provided by 128-bit AES encryption.
The advantage of LoRaWAN is not only a large range, but also high energy efficiency associated with the ability to precisely manage the time of operation of network nodes — most of the time they can remain inactive, waking up only during the transmission and listening to the reception.
Sigfox is a private telecommunications operator operating in the IoT industry on principles similar to mobile operators. For a fee (in the form of a subscription), it offers access to its network operating in the band below 1 GHz (868/915 MHz) for IoT devices.
This solution is designed primarily for modules that require sending a small amount of information with not very high frequency. The Sigfox network currently covers mainly the area of Western Europe, but by 2020 it plans to cover over 60 countries.
In addition, a daily limit of messages has been introduced that can be sent by a single network node (currently it is 140 messages). The maximum length of a single message is 12 bytes, while the feedback message is 8 bytes.
Due to very restrictive constraints on the length of transmission, the Sigfox network is primarily intended for applications that communicate rarely and with very small amounts of data, such as distributed measuring systems for measuring water or electricity consumption, alarm sensors and smoke detectors. The undoubted advantage of this solution is the possibility of using ready-to-use network infrastructure, which allows to reduce the time and costs associated with the construction and maintenance of your own devices of this type.
Soon, we will live in cities and houses full of sensors and intelligent objects that will constantly collect data about us and our activities — no matter whether we sleep, work, shop or spend time with friends. The most important is, however, that thanks to the development of new technologies, our lives become easier, more pleasant, and thus we lose less and less time on unnecessary, repetitive activities.