A low power wide area network (LPWAN) is a type of telecommunication network designed to allow long-range communication at a low bit rate among things (connected objects), such as a sensor, operated by a battery.
LPWAN uses unlicensed spectrum to transmit data. These LPWANs use the 800 and 900 MHz bands to transmit data from wireless IoT devices such as sensors and location trackers. Signals in these bands can be transmitted over long distances and can penetrate obstacles. The distance served by a LPWAN site is greater than a single cellular network site. However, the bands used for LPWAN networks have limited data capacity compared to those used by cellular networks. LPWANs offer several potential benefits including low barriers to entry, low costs, and broad coverage.
There are many technologies that can be used to operate LPWANs, including LoRa, Random Phase Multiple Access, and Sigfox. In the United States, LPWANs have been developed using each of these technologies.
In the United States, companies have built LPWANs to support a variety of uses including location tracking, temperature monitoring, and water metering. According to FCC officials, the LPWAN market is still developing in the United States. The development of a nationwide LPWAN in the United States may face some of the same challenges that confronted the development of other nationwide communications networks. For example, providing service in rural areas and local issues presented challenges to planning the public-safety broadband network and building nationwide cellular networks.
- "Overview" section: Internet of Things: FCC Should Track Growth to Ensure Sufficient Spectrum Remains Available, at 21-22 & n.29.
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