Tata Communications has successfully conducted trials of low power wide area network (LPWAN), based on LoRa (long range) Alliance technology for connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) applications across Mumbai and Delhi.
These trials will bolster successful deployment of IoT applications in India, according to Tata.
Tata plans to roll out India’s first LoRa network across the country, with full coverage starting in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. LoRa is a wireless communication technology dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT)/machine to machine (M2M) communications network.
The new network is a low-power, secure, bi-directional, communication solution, which any organisation can use to connect objects and innovative applications simply and energy efficiently, overcoming high power consumption challenges with existing wireless solutions. The first phase target is to cover 400 million people across Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 cities.
In addition to ultra-low power consumption, which allows the battery in the end device to last for more than a decade without replacement, Tata’s LPWAN wireless network has considerable reach, enabling communications in deep water and up to 50 metres underground.
This makes it suitable for use in metro stations and car parks. The signal of the network is extremely strong, cutting through up to seven walls inside buildings. It is also suitable for rural areas due to its 15km range. Compared with 4G, Wi-Fi, ZigBee or Bluetooth solutions, the LPWAN network is also more cost-effective for organisations to deploy.
Tri Pham, chief strategy officer, Tata Communications, said: “Tata Communications is dedicated to enabling cutting-edge, innovative communication solutions for the digital economy. Given our global network leadership, we have a bird’s eye view on how connected applications are permeating all aspects of people’s lives.
“We see a massive need for a new smart network to enable intelligent solutions for a variety of M2M applications to facilitate a simpler and smarter way of life and at a lower cost of ownership. These trials are just the beginning; we intend to deploy this network across India and invite customers with IoT projects to work with us to test it, end-to-end.”
As technology evolves into an intrinsic part of everyday life - from predictive waste management to precision farming and geo-fencing to smart electricity meters - the IoT industry is predicted to grow exponentially, and India is seen as a high-growth potential market. Industries, citizens and governments alike become key stakeholders.
Tata’s LoRa LPWAN network is designed to be simple for organisations to deploy, as it is pre-configured with plug-and play connectivity for different industries, including manufacturing and agriculture.
“We are excited that Tata Communications has decided to deploy a LoRaWAN carrier-grade LPWAN solution across India,” said Mohan Maheswaran, CEO of Semtech, the technology partner behind LoRa. “Tata Communications is a global leader in network and communication solutions and we are pleased to be an integral part of this new initiative.
“It is also a matter of great pride that after extensive testing of all available LPWAN technologies, Tata Communications chose to deploy LoRa technology in its endeavour to create and enable a brand new network for connected devices.”
LoRa LPWAN background
The Tata LPWAN network uses standards developed in Europe by the LoRa Alliance. It noted that as yet, today’s standards aren’t able to meet the future needs of India – even though India has by far the biggest market potential for LoRa.
To illustrate this, Tata pointed to France there are 5,000 base stations in total, yet in India there are 14,000 – and they cover just 5% of the country. The future standard for LoRa and IoT more widely will need further development – which Tata Communications will be part of as part of the LoRa Alliance – taking into account the specific local market requirements for India.
These include the use of solar power and different antennae technology which doesn’t rely on satellite. In Europe, base stations use 2-3 antennas, but in India, Tata wants to see widespread adoption of directional antennas which work similarly to GPS, but the location functionality is powered by the base station instead of a satellite. Both of these are critical functionalities in a country with vast rural areas with sometimes limited power sources.
In short, Tata said it wanted to make sure that the voice of India is listened to in the development of a new standard, enabling the country to reap the full economic and social benefits that the IoT can bring.