The LPWA: the advantages and disadvantages of early market entry

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Date: 19-May-2015
No. of pages: 40
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LPWA technology will connect IoT and M2M devices that require either two or more of the following: low-power consumption, low-cost modules, high propagation and wide-area coverage.

The low-power, wide-area (LPWA) market is a promising opportunity for mobile network operators (MNOs) – we forecast that the market will have 3.6 billion connections worldwide by 2023. MNOs must carefully consider whether they enter the market now (using pre-standard solutions) or wait for up to 2 years for the 3GPP to agree standards. This report discusses the LPWA market and assesses the choices that MNOs face

This Strategy Report:


  • assesses the go-to-market options for MNOs in the LPWA market

  • evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of entering the market before a non-standard technology is available

  • discusses the implications of waiting for an LPWA standard to emerge and how long that might take.


Company Coverage

  • LoRa Alliance

  • On-Ramp Wireless

The LPWA: the advantages and disadvantages of early market entry

Table of Contents

Executive summary
The nascent LPWA market is attracting interest, driven by the availability of 'proprietary' or 'non-standard' technologies
MNOs may face a competitive threat from LPWA players and will need to weigh up the benefits of entering the market before standards emerge
Recommendations

LPWA: Uncertainty in a promising market
LPWA networks are designed to overcome the shortcomings that cellular networks have when it comes to M2M communication
The ecosystem is fragmented – several technology providers are providing non-standard solutions and having some commercial success
MNOs have two options regarding their LPWA strategy: deploy non-standard technology or wait for 3GPP standards to emerge
LPWA standards in licensed spectrum will not emerge from the 3GPP until 2016 at the earliest
Adoption of non-standard LPWA networks provides first-to-market advantages, but these may be undermined when standards emerge

Advantages of Adopting Non-Standard Lpwa Technology
Uncertainty about LPWA standards in licensed spectrum has resulted in growing interest in non-standard technologies
Early deployment of LPWA technology enables MNOs to target early demand for some applications and increase their market share
Other important factors are also driving MNOs to enter the LPWA market before 3GPP standards emerge
Network deployment costs are not a barrier to early market entry
In light of these advantages, some pioneering MNOs will deploy non-standard LPWA systems

Disadvantages of Adopting Non-Standard Lpwa Technology
MNOs that deploy non-standard technologies to enter the LPWA market face risks as the market develops
3GPP LPWA standards are expected to ultimately result in economies of scale and lower-cost equipment and deployments
Standardised LPWA solutions in licensed spectrum have clear advantages
Some MNOs are prepared to wait for 3GPP standards in licensed spectrum and are championing their preferred options

Appendix: Lpwa Profiles And Deployment Maps
Profile: SIGFOX
Profile: LoRa LPWAN
Profile: Telensa
Profile: On-Ramp Wireless
Profile: SIGFOX network operators, Arqiva and Cellnex Telecom
3GPP standard proposal: Clean-slate is a proposed 3GPP radio technology which would not modify existing 3GPP standards
3GPP standard proposal: LTE-MTC is part of the 3GPP standardisation of Release 13 of LTE
LPWA deployments: SIGFOX deployment map (May 2015)
LPWA deployments: LoRa LPWAN deployment map (May 2015)

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