Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network solutions such as LoRa, Sigfox, LTE-M and NB-IoT will play an important role in the oil and gas recovery by connecting stranded assets and lowering labor costs, according to the latest study by global IoT research firm ON World.
“LPWA networking’s multi-mile sensing and control capabilities is perfectly matched to the needs of the oil and gas industry by removing complex and labor expensive monitoring and management of remote wellheads and other assets,” said Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director.
Compared to existing alternatives, LPWA solutions move the networking and provisioning complexity to the in-premises or cloud network server which lowers labor costs as routers and repeaters are not needed and development is primarily done in the cloud.
LPWA advantages for IoT solutions include the following:
- Communicate over multiple miles using a single gateway for tens of thousands of nodes
- Nodes can run on battery powered nodes for 10+ years
- Use a star based topology that is easier to manage and extend than wireless mesh networks
- Device and gateway costs are relatively low and will trend lower as deployments grow
- Network management is primarily handled in the cloud making it easier to provision devices
By 2022, there will be 30 million wireless sensing, tracking and control devices in use worldwide for oil and gas exploration, production, pipeline operations as well as logistics and distribution. LPWA technologies will be the fastest growing and will enable millions of new connections that are not feasible with other technologies.
The LPWAN ecosystem is rapidly growing with nation-wide networks rolling out across all the major continents and hundreds of companies participating in LPWA standards and alliances including the LoRa Alliance, Sigfox Partner Network, Ingenu’s Machine Network, Weightless SIG, ETSI LTN and 3GPP.
The relatively low barrier to entry has drawn numerous new entrants including dedicated IoT network operators such as Ingenu, Sigfox, Senet and Thinxtra as well as IoT platform providers such as Actility, Carriots, Cumulocity, IBM, HP, OrbiWise and Stream Technologies. ON World’s phone interviews and surveys with 250+ industrial automation and IoT professionals found that nearly half are researching or developing LPWA networking solutions and 2 in 5 are targeting oil and gas markets.
Remaining challenges are lowering module costs, accelerating product development, hardening standards and overcoming security weaknesses, as well as involving more oil and gas solution providers such as Alizent (Air Liquide), OleumTech, WellAware and Zedi that currently offer LPWA systems.
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