Tata Communications is in the process of building India's first Internet of Things (IoT) network in the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
The network will allow millions of devices to be connected. The company claims that, once completed, this will be the world's largest IoT network.
"We are using low-power, wide-area network [LPWAN] technology based on LoRa for connected devices and IoT applications," says Amit Sinha Roy, the vice president of marketing and strategy for Tata Communications Ltd. "We decided to go for LoRa it because interoperability is important for the efficient functioning of the IoT network."
LoRa is regarded as a more "open" technology than LPWAN rivals such as Sigfox and Ingenu , and it has drawn support from companies including Bouygues Telecom , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Orange (NYSE: FTE).
Critics, however, dispute its "openness," pointing out that US chipmaker Semtech Corp. (Nasdaq: SMTC) controls all of the intellectual property behind LoRa. Mobile giant Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has decided to throw its weight behind NB-IoT, an emerging cellular standard that will support LPWAN capabilities. (See Ingenu Revs Up IoT Rhetoric, LoRa Alliance Defends Tech Against Sigfox Slur and Sigfox Plans Global IoT Network.)
Tata, by contrast, is planning to cover nearly 400 million people across India with a LoRa network, having started work on its LoRa project about six months ago. It says early feedback has given it hope that LoRa can be used on a national scale.
"The traditional known models are changing and the use cases and revenue models of IoT have to evolve," says Sinha.
Nevertheless, Sinha agrees that as a new technology LoRa faces issues to do with standardization and regulation that will have to be resolved.
More broadly, IoT is emerging as a major growth area for the service providers. Market research company Gartner reckons there will be 25 billion connected devices by 2020 -- several times the total number of people on earth today.
— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading