Over the last couple of years I have been involved in a project to create a 5G test bed across the region. The idea being to put the North East at the forefront of this exciting technology, autonomous vehicles and all that. Since leaving my last role however I have stepped away from that and have left it to others. I am sure the work is progressing.
In a twist of irony however I find myself working in something similar yet at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to speed and capacity. I am helping out with the development of a test Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN), again across the region. In many ways the aim of this project is similar to the 5G, which is to put the North East at the forefront of this emerging technology, yet in many ways it is the total opposite.
Whereas 5G is about speed, capacity and small cells, LPWAN is about low bandwidth and long distances. Here we are not talking about megabytes and gigabytes but rather nothing bigger than a kilobyte.
Why is LPWAN of interest then? Surely the demand for connectivity is for bigger and faster. This may be true in the consumer space yet there is enormous growth in the number of sensors that pump out tiny amounts of data as part of the so-called Internet of Things. For these the mobile networks would be too costly to be worthwhile. The would be overkill.
The creation of a LPWAN network will:
- Provide large and small companies the opportunity to build on the use of the Internet of Things, to develop solutions and to trial new software and hardware,
- Help build a sustainable LPWAN network in the North East and to connect this to a growing UK network,
- Educate businesses about the benefit of connectivity leading to more demand for extended and new services.
These continue to be exciting times. If you are interested in being part of the LPWAN project please let me know.