0G – Old technology for smart digital applications!

Published by Gabrielle Guerrini on

0G – Old technology for smart digital applications!

I was very pleased to attend the meeting entitled “The 0G World – Get a Head start on your Digital Transformation Journey” organized by the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. Main speakers were two experts of this new disruptive digital technology combining LPWAN and IoT, namely Jonathan Tan (from UnaBiz) and Wandrille Doucerain (from ENGIE).

Problem statement

Core topic of the discussion for this conference was “How to benefit from the OG World technology to make new usages for IoT?”. As we all know, IoT is becoming bigger and bigger, with an estimated impact of $11 trillion worldwide in 2020. Based on this fact, the speakers demonstrated how the LPWAN networks can partner efficiently with new digital solutions for what is now called “massive IoT”.

Design of the service: how to make new with old?

Typically, this new approach consists in using independent OG (“radio”) networks to collect (punctually and with latency) data from low-power RF capable small devices, within a range from 2 to 10 km. Example promoted during the discussion was to collect data from gas meters in large city areas without deploying a new network and rely on a current LPWAN provider to perform the work (rather than individuals).

Hence, the additional contributions of this technology are to:

– Complement RFID which works only within short range,
– Complement Wi-Fi for sensitive data,
– Reduce human efforts for distributed operations
– Offer simple capacity management and avoid polluting “critical IoT” items/sensors (for which real-time monitoring is required with low latency).

Providers on the market

The LPWAN infrastructure is already a reality with well-known providers (such as Sigfox, LoRa, NB-IoT) that have deployed infrastructure in several countries over all continents. Current coverage for Sigfox is now 65 countries (map below). To improve services, especially in regions with low accessibility, the providers are looking at satellites to expand the coverage.

Their partners, such as UnaBiz, can then benefit from this fast-evolving network architecture, together with their technology expertise, to assist clients in a very large variety of business cases such as (but not limited to):

– Asset Tracking: where are the trucks delivering the company goods?
– Asset Management: are all the sensors working and monitoring properly?
– Facilities Management: where are the stocks inside the premises?

To complete the end-to-end approach of this technology, API, Big Data and business applications (potentially in a full-cloud mode) can allow to analyze data provided by all devices equipped, manage all kind of data-driven processes and, in the end, produce value easily for many organizations with distributed operations.

In purple, countries with Sigfox technology. In blue, current coverage.

Challenges

Noteworthy, at this stage, timeframe from prototype to production can vary now from 4 to 6 months. As mentioned by the speakers, change management around the culture of IoT remains for the moment the main challenge to tackle for this technology to develop at a faster pace. Security brings concerns with total network access (“open radio”) for each client. However, with the right service design, including network segmentation and thorough requirements, only required data will go through the OG network preventing any leak.

Financially, OPEX models are quite suitable with this approach as few infrastructure elements are required on the client’s side, as well as driving significant reduction of manpower (usually collecting data manually). Thus, it will definitively be cheaper that upcoming 5G technology!

So far, main impact is the deployment of low-power small devices across all locations to allow the data to be captured and the processes to start working. Development toward more compact and performant devices with limited cost renders this kind of project more and more cost-efficient, especially for large scale rollout in multiple countries.

Conclusions

Overall, this conference really impresses me: nowadays, everyone has an eye on 5G with an impression that “bigger, better, faster” is the best way to promote disruptive technologies. With OG, the two speakers really demonstrated that they can design fit-for-purpose technology with high value and limited costs. What else should we ask for? We definitively need to look in all directions to be sure the digital transformation journey we are promoting is really… “disruptive”.

Finally, this meeting was an excellent introduction before the next Sixfog Connect Event in Singapore on Nov-21/22 at Marina Bay Sands and to discover this top-notch powerful technology.

Gregory FRANC

 

Practice Leader at EVA Group APAC

Categories: EVATECH