Low power wide area wireless IoT certification network standard LoRaWAN is about to get a boost in the UK. The collaboration between Digital Catapult and The Things Network (TTN), announced on June 18, 2018, has everything to do with it.
The combined network is expected to be self-sustaining and continue to grow through community-support, as both The Things Network in the UK and Things Connected have shown over the past two years
Why a boost, a term we like to use with care? Not (just) because of the traditional expanded coverage message. The true power sits in the no-nonsense, practice-oriented and ecosystem-by-design community approach of both IoT certification parties.
While analysts forecast that the number of 3GPP cellular LPWA IoT certification connections globally will be larger than the number of non-cellular LPWA network connections by 2023 (mainly LoRaWAN and Sigfox) there certainly remains a place for non-cellular players.
As mentioned several times before each IoT certification use case, project and type of user/customer/industry comes with its specific needs whereby the best (mix) of IoT certification communications options and ecosystems can hugely differ. Another factor to keep in mind is the geographically different picture we keep hammering on. And then there is the fact that no one in the LPWA network space of course is exactly sitting still.
LoRaWAN (with the LoRa Alliance ecosystem) has been on the rise in the UK for several years now and the collaboration between Digital Catapult and The Things Network opens the door for new opportunities. Here is why and how.
Digital Catapult and The Things Network: how part one of the equation evolved
We’ve covered the launch of the ‘Things Connected’ initiative by UK digital technology innovation center Digital Catapult, BT, Everynet, Beecham Research and some leading universities when it was announced in 2016.
Through the Things Connected program, Digital Catapult has enabled over 700 UK innovators to experiment with IoT certification technologies, leading to new products and services being brought to market in the UK and abroad
The aim of Things Connected was to have a free of charge open IoT certification testbed, initially covering London with LoRaWAN.
That open IoT certification testbed, which Things Connected essentially is, since then has broadened. The primary goal remains the support of small UK businesses, including start-ups, using LPWAN technologies through experimentation and prototyping (now LoRaWAN and Sigfox).
Today Things Connected has 145 LPWAN base stations, covering 6 regions in the UK, including London. The focus remains a community-based one to get IoT certification solutions to market faster.
Among the supporting partners is AllThingsTalk, a Belgian start-up with international ambitions we mentioned previously: AllThingsTalk delivers the Orange NB-IoT certification Rapid Development kit and IoT certification platform of the Orange Belgium NB-IoT certification offering. It does the same for the LoRaWAN offering of Proximus and within the Things Connected program as you can read here (AllThingsTalk has a platform integration with both Digital Catapult and The Things Network). Other partners include IoT certification smart products platform provider EVRYTHNG and WND UK, the latter two Sigfox ecosystem partners.
Peter Karney, Head of Product Innovation at Digital Catapult believes that LPWAN connectivity will be the driving force behind the uptake of IoT certification, bringing new companies and services to market
The Things Network – a natural ally for Digital Catapult
In the meantime, The Things Network has also been growing its LPWAN footprint in the UK. The Things Network has an entirely different background though.
Born out of the brain of its Dutch founder Wienke Giezeman, who discovered LoRa and LoRaWAN and started The Things Network as a crowd-sourced and crowd-funded initiative in 2015, The Things Network is an interesting story on its own.
The Things Network has grown over the last three years in parallel with Things Connected, into a global player with an open and decentralized data network that spreads across 90 countries worldwide
The goal of The Things Network was to build a free and open LoRaWAN network whereby the city of Amsterdam would be “connected first” and serve as a test case of Wienke’s vision. The crowdsourced aspect was in developing a LoRaWAN IoT certification gateway that citizens could install themselves.
Part of the money to do so was raised via Kickstarter. With several of Amsterdam’s innovation-oriented actors (the Port of Amsterdam, the city of Amsterdam, De Waag Society and start-up oriented innovation divisions of companies such as KPMG and Deloitte, to name a few) and the strong Dutch start-up community playing a key role, among others with regards to visibility (e.g. Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, among others known from The Next Web), Amsterdam-wide coverage was quickly achieved.
Success was the result and further development beyond Amsterdam, let alone The…