photo by Michael Miller

Beyond the Hype

A LoRaWAN Public Network in Action

By: Tracy Hopkins & Steve Ball

January 21, 2016 --The media is overflowing with IoT predictions, specifications, and announcements about low-power wide area networks being deployed in many countries.
These networks are primarily private networks supporting single tenant customers or standalone applications. Now public LPWA networks are being announced, but what are they doing? What value are they adding to the end consumer, and how are they delivering an ROI for the operator?

In 2015, Senet concluded that it would build a public LPWA network to support the explosive growth forecast in IoT connectivity requirements. After evaluating the various available LPWA technologies, Senet selected LoRa and LoRaWAN as the best solutions to address this new market. History has repeatedly demonstrated the value of openness where competitiveness thrives and customer choice prevails. Senet is committed to open standards and chose a strategic partnership with the LoRa Alliance, enabling access to a complete IoT ecosystem. An established and constantly growing ecosystem ensures the availability of all parts of the IoT value chain and offers the capability to deliver the economies of scale required to meet the sensitive IoT price point.

Senet Inc. is the first company to gain FCC certification on its LoRa gateways and the first to offer a public, LoRaWAN network in North America that is hosting commercial applications. By the end of 2015, Senet will have over 100,000 square miles of network coverage collecting data from more than 30,000 sensors via gateway deployments on more than 100 sites across the U.S.

Senet does not subscribe to the “if you build it, they will come” type of thinking. It is building out in three major regions in the U.S. where real business opportunity is funding the deployments. The most successful initial tenant application has been the EnerTrac solution, which provides tank monitoring and enables automation for the heating fuel distribution industry. This has enabled fuel dealers to achieve average annual savings of 30 percent while increasing end customer satisfaction simultaneously. EnerTrac has achieved commercial success in deployments across several U.S. regions including the Northeast, the Midwest, and California.

New vertical applications are now being hosted on the network. Senet has available capacity on these current network deployments and is actively trialing applications with partners that are leaders in their respective markets such as smart agriculture, water metering, smart cities, supply chain, and oil and gas. To further ignite the growth of the ecosystem, Senet is hosting the network access for solution developers in two key innovation districts: San Francisco and Boston. These centers have allowed innovators to validate the long-range, lowpower, and low-cost characteristics of the LoRa network while also experiencing the reliability, security, scale and ease of onboarding of the Senet network to support their applications.

“The LoRa Alliance is the fastest growing global ecosystem for LPWAN focused on secure, carrier-grade, and scalable solutions. The LoRaWAN standard is by far the most used for IoT type of connectivity, certainly driven too by more than 127 members, nine open national networks announced, and 56 open public networks in development. The Senet Network is leading the way in the U.S. for LPWA networks, and is a tangible leap beyond the hype,” said Jaap Groot, senior director of business development at SEMTECH, and board member of the LoRa Alliance.

Stream Technologies, which is also a contributing member of the LoRa Alliance along with Senet, is providing its worldleading IoT-X connectivity management platform to enhance the commercial capability of the Senet network. IoT-X provides carrier-grade subscription management, detailed device analysis, connection status, network monitoring, billing, and a super resilient backhaul infrastructure to provide a virtual state of network representation all from the same environment. IoT-X can access data from any IoT device irrespective of technology; it is simply a unique endpoint making data and connection type transparent to the network operator – cellular, satellite, or LoRaWAN technologies. This enables the Senet network to access alternative forms of connectivity to complement its LoRaWAN network.

IoT-X can provide multi-tenanted LPWANs, as customer segmentation is simple with the advanced data routing algorithms. The billing capability can either be the traditional data tariff model for cellular devices, or for LPWAN can simply be based on data usage or number of connections ensuring that the very low operating cost for these devices is met and commercialization is simple.

“The IoT connectivity and network services solution provided by Senet is the clear choice for LPWA application requirements in the U.S.,” said George Dannecker, CEO of Senet. “That said, some IoT applications will require a mix of network solutions, for example, to include those that require high data rates. In these situations, partnering with Stream’s IOT-X platform enables integration of the full and seamless solution for the end customer.”

Tracy Hopkins is senior vice president of low-power radio (IoT) at Stream Technologies (www.stream-technologies.com). Steve Ball is senior director of product management at Senet Inc. (www.senetco.com)