You can see from the diagram that WiFi is rated and can be used up to 1000m. Where you need to move into measurements in the 1km – 10km, it starts becoming interesting as we then start requiring decisions such as;
- Do you install your own radio network?
- Do you install a LoRa (Long Range) network?
- Do you use the Internet to act as the network?
- LTE-M (Long-Term Evolution)
- NBIoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things)
- GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) running on GSM networks (Mobile Networks)
- Do you leverage a dedicated IoT Network such as Sigfox (0G Network)?
The issue, of course, is to balance the cost of deploying and maintaining your own network or leveraging the telco or IoT networks available where there is an on-going cost of using that network.
Defining each network offering – Wikipedia;
LTE-M (LTE-MTC [Machine Type Communication]), which includes eMTC (enhanced Machine Type Communication), is a type of low power wide area network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services (specifically, for machine-to-machine and Internet of Things applications). Also see LTE Cat-M1.
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services. NB-IoT uses a subset of the LTE standard, but limits the bandwidth to a single narrow-band of 200kHz.
LoRa is a long-range radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) and is combined with low power wireless chipset that is used in a lot of Internet of Things (IoT) networks and devices worldwide. LoRa uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands like 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (North America). LoRa enables long-range transmissions (more than 10 km in rural areas) with low power consumption.
Sigfox employs the differential binary phase-shift keying (DBPSK) and the Gaussian frequency shift keying (GFSK) that enables communication using the Industrial, Scientific and Medical ISM radio band which uses 868MHz in Europe and 902MHz in the US. It utilizes a wide-reaching signal that passes freely through solid objects, called “Ultra Narrowband” and requires little energy, being termed “Low-power Wide-area network (LPWAN)“.
Do you need to do control?
Question 2 – Do you need to do control at the point of measurement?
If you need to do control at the point of measurement e.g. Switch a pump on and off based on a level or if the sensor you want to use requires permanent power – you will need power at the site. If either of these is true, you will need to put into some power infrastructure – solar, wind, generator or permanent power.
- A PLC/RTU or some other controller needs permanent power.
- A permanently powered sensor needs power.
- You will also need some power infrastructure, if you choose either of the following, to send and/or receive data from the control point;
- Telecoms (modems, NBIot)
- LoRa, if you are wanting to do control
If you do not need control and simply want to be able to monitor and send the data back to the control point, then your decisions are about whether or not your sensor needs permanent power.
Question 3 – If you do not need to do control and your sensor does not need to be powered, then what choice of network do I have for my sensor?
If this is the case, then the decision needs to be made about how often you need data to be transmitted?
- More than 140 messages a day, then your choice is to use self-powered sensors that leverage:-
- LoRa – need a dedicated network (in South Africa)
- NBIoT – Telco Network
- Less than 140 messages a day, then your choice is to use self-powered, low power sensors that leverage:-
- Sigfox – choose a contract for 140, 75 or 2 messages a day
What infrastructure do you need for different IoT network technologies?
We are only dealing with wider area networks in this section.
- WiFi requires WiFi points connected to a network or internet connection for backhauling the data from the sensors to the control point
- LoRa – require private or a public LoRa network between the sensors at the control point.
- NBIoT– require sensors that are built to support NBIoT
- Sigfox – Granted and installed usually by a single network operator – in South Africa, the Sigfox Network is handled by Sqwidnet (a division of Dark Fibre Africa)
Question 4 – Assuming I can use self-powered (battery) sensors, what choices do I have?
This is the interesting part. Many manufacturers of sensors allow and support various network offerings. The two big IoT networks that a lot of sensors support are LoRa and Sigfox (www.sigfox.com) and the Internet is full of sensor offerings for either of these.
The one advantage of Sigfox, although limited to frequency and size of the message, is their sensor costs and availabilities, because of the homogeneous nature of the network and a certified sensor for a particular radio frequency licensed zone are compatible, and transportable.
Meaning that any sensor purchased will work anywhere in the world where there is a Sigfox Network. The current sensor eco-system for Sigfox compatible sensors comprises of over 750 products from almost 700 companies.
A huge advantage is cost, where most basic sensors cost less than R1 500. Even more complex sensors like our ADR-PRESSURE, a pressure sensor, can be easily deployed and integrated into the Adroit SCADA system and costs around R7 500 compared to a fixed installation using standard telemetry of around R35 000 to R50 000.
In addition, we have undertaken to create an ObjectModel for any customers Sigfox sensor, free of charge, into the Adroit IoT/SCADA platform.
IoT Sensors available include;
- Combustible Gases
- Current Flow
- Differential Pressure
- Smoke Detection
- Solar Irradiation
- Ultrasonic Level
- Water, Gas and Power Metering
- Wind Speed
The time has never been riper to enhance your business using IIoT; Sensor and network choice usually comes out in the wash. These IoT networks and sensors are reliable, cheap and can deliver massive value if deployed and used within a larger digital strategy.
For more information contact Dave Wibberley at Adroit Technologies on +27 (0)11 658-8100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org