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Weightless Enjoys LoRaWAN's Untouched Slice of the IoT Cake

By Cynthia S. Artin November 10, 2017

It’s impossible these days to keep up with media and industry analyst coverage of Low Power Wide Area Networking (LPWAN) standards.

Even with large ecosystems, open source initiatives, and industry standards organizations going full-throttle in the race to the top of the IoT connectivity supremacy, a new technology has still managed to widely separate itself from the pack. Weightless, a new LPWAN technology, has been thriving as the Industrial IoT community have been quick to point out its technical advantages over older brothers LoRaWAN and Sigfox. Ubiik, the company first-to-market with the higher performance Weightless technology has been enjoying all the Industrial IoT applications that LoRaWAN cannot touch.

The story of Ubiik, started off at customer sites. Before the decision to even develop of Weightless LPWAN, Ubiik’s industrial customers pointed out the deal-breaking limitations of LoRaWAN and Sigfox. The LPWAN technologies at the times failed miserably to meet the needs of a real industrial-strength deployments. “Our industrial customers required higher data rate, larger payloads, more frequent uplink transmissions, firmware over the air, reliable downlink, and the list goes on,” said TH Peng, CEO of Ubiik. “The market needed a higher performance LPWAN technology to clinch these huge industrial projects. Therefore, we made the strategic decision to pioneer Weightless, which at the time was just specifications on paper crafted by the UK based Weightless SIG.”

Ubiik dug deep to understand the stringent requirements of industrial solutions and realized a huge, untapped IIoT market.

The “deltas” addressed by Weightless?

  • Reliable downlink for…
    • Mission critical system control
    • Reliably turn on/off pumps, disinfectant sensors, meters, lighting and other endpoints
    • Updating signage content
    • Firmware-Over-The-Air for large number of end devices
  • Synchronous Networking for…
    • Validated preservation of battery life
    • Avoidance of “collisions” within the network
    • Firmware-Over-The-Air for large number of end devices
  • High uplink data rate for
    • Very frequent uplink transmission (i.e every 5 seconds)
    • Large number of end devices in single network 

One IIoT entrepreneur we spoke with researched multiple LPWAN alternatives and chose to go with LoRaWAN, saying anonymously that Weightless did indeed seem technically superior on paper, but hardware was unavailable at the time his researchers completed their work to invest time in.

Earlier this year, Ubiik announced the launch of hardware and SDKs for highly anticipated Weightless LPWAN technology at Embedded World 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany. They have shipped Starter kits to over 20 countries spread over 7 continents.

The comprehensive Weightless starter kit includes a Base Station, Base Station Antenna, two end-device modules, two end-device antennas, an array of software testing tools, sample code, Arduino manuals? and two free months of free Ubiik cloud services.

In the LPWAN smack down, who know who the ultimate winner, at scale, will be. As we are all aware, we are still very, very early in the evolution of IIoT, and as those of us who lived through and contributed to the birth of the Internet, the mobile revolution, and now age know – there is room for more than one or two or even three approaches.

In the end, it may come down to the actual use cases – not every deployment is the same, nor does every solution require, for example, real-time communications between systems and end-points particularly those where “going to sleep” is fine for the time being. Batch processing status of endpoints in massive precision farming installations, for example, works just fine for some farmers.

But in instances, for example where larger network of end devices call for more frequent uplink transmission and automated updates of passwords on edge devices – Weightless’s more cellular-like, more OTA style approaches may make more sense.




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Contributing Writer

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