3GPP Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Technologies

The growing usage of connected devices, machines and vehicles is making organisations more effective and enriching the lives of individuals. To support the development of this Internet of Things (IoT), the mobile industry has developed and standardised a new class of low power wide area (LPWA) technologies that help network operators to tailor the cost, coverage and power consumption of connectivity for specific IoT applications.

Three low power wide area network (WAN) solutions operating in licensed spectrum bands – Extended Coverage GSM for Internet of Things (EC-GSM-IoT), Long Term Evolution Machine Type Communications Category M1 (LTE MTC Cat M1, also referred to as LTE-M) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) – have emerged to address the diverse requirements of the IoT market. Mobile network operators (MNOs) will implement these technologies, which have been standardised by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in its Release 13, through the modification of their cellular networks, bringing to the market a wide range of benefits.

The main advantage of 3GPP-standardised LPWA solutions, compared to proprietary technologies, is that they have the support of a huge ecosystem with more than 400 individual members. 3GPP stipulates that standardised technologies deliver a minimum level of performance, regardless of the vendor. Standardisation also ensures interoperability across vendors and mobile operators. Moreover, standardisation by 3GPP helps technologies to reach scale due to the number of companies that implement these standards.