Podcasts > Technology > Ep. 087 - Enabling IoT with long range low power connectivity
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Ep. 087
Enabling IoT with long range low power connectivity
Alistair Fulton, VP & GM, Semtech
Tuesday, May 11, 2021

In this episode, we discuss the tradeoffs between alternative wireless connectivity solutions and how LoRa is being used in applications to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Alistair is the Vice President and General Manager of Semtech's Wireless and Sensing Products Group. Semtech Corporation is the creator of LoRa and is a leading supplier of high performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductors and advanced algorithms for infrastructure, high-end consumer and industrial equipment. Products are designed to benefit the engineering community as well as the global community. www.semtech.com. 

Transcript.

Erik: Welcome to the Industrial IoT Spotlight, your number one spot for insight from industrial IoT thought leaders who are transforming businesses today with your host, Erik Walenza.

Welcome back to the Industrial IoT Spotlight podcast. I'm your host, Erik Walenza, CEO of IoT ONE. And our guest today is Alistair Fulton, Vice President and General Manager of the Wireless and Sensing Products Group at Semtech. Semtech is the creator of LoRa technology, which has revolutionized IoT by enabling data communication over a long range using very little power. In this talk, we discuss tradeoffs between alternative wireless connectivity solutions and we also explored how LoRa has been used in applications to combat the spread of COVID­19.

If you find these conversations valuable, please leave us a comment and a five-star review. And if you'd like to share your company's story or recommend a speaker, please email us at team@IoTone.com. Thank you. Alistair, thank you so much for joining us today.

Alistair: You are most welcome, Erik, it’s nice to talk to you.

Erik: And so Alistair, before we get into the topic of Semtech, and LoRa, would love to learn a bit more about yourself. I see you have something like 25 years of experience in Internet of Things businesses, where did you first touch this topic?

Alistair: I started first actually, before it was called IoT, back then it was called telematics and machine-to-machine. Unlike many people in this space, I started originally in the cellular space way back in the 2000s with Telefónica, O2. Looking at a variety of different business models, and at that stage telematics was seen as a relatively niche segment. We actually use an old paging network to support a telematics business.

And back in those days, everyone was talking about connected vending machines, I think people still are talking about connected vending machines due to the nature of IoT, the way it's thought about and really the role that IoT plays in industry has obviously grown exponentially since then. After leaving O2, I actually ended up building a bit of a consulting practice with Deloitte Consulting, looking at connected device technologies.

And I should say, even before O2, my earliest start was in product development. And we worked on a connected vending machine back then. The practice I worked in Deloitte was really hands on working with customers, helping them build first business cases, but then actually implement IoT solutions, which is what led me into Microsoft. I joined Microsoft, I think, in 2009, within a product incubation unit.

And the first thing that I focused on was IoT, building a concept and then a platform that over many iterations and the involvement of many folks with bigger brains than me into Azure IoT. And then following Microsoft, I went to Hitachi, and helped build the Hitachi Lumada platform, which are like Azure IoT, I think is one of the stronger platforms in the market today. I'm not just saying that because involvement, but from the developer perspective, the range of tools is very rich. AWS has an extraordinarily strong platform as well. And there's a long tail of folks with maybe more specialty.

What we focused on with the Lumada platform was industrial IoT, and really building a vehicle to capsulate Hitachi is the century of OT knowledge of the industrial process knowledge into software tools that customers could use to optimize their own processes, whether those processes were heavy manufacturing like rolling steel mills, transport, mining, and so on.

And then I moved into Semtech, which was seen by many of my colleagues is quite a strange move, moving from the world of software and cloud, which is certainly growing by the day into the old world of silicone. With all of my years in IoT, either building solutions or building platforms, like many others, I constantly came up against the same question, which is, the platform is great, how do I collect everything? And I don't mean 5% of my assets, I mean, everything. I mean, all of the assets. And particularly in industrial IoT, having that expanse of data visibility into a process is really key. If you're going to drive the sort of fairly small cost optimization opportunities that the IoT creates, sampling isn't enough.

And the fact of the matter was that there aren't really very many good technical solutions to that [inaudible 05:17] they had cables pulled through factories, selling of WiFi modules, the pain in each of those solutions. They are strong in themselves when it comes to integration and interoperability is quite extreme. And I came to Semtech because Semtech is responsible for LoRa, and LoRa is the underlying silicon layer bits behind the growing LoRaWAN protocol.

But LoRaWAN sells for, I think, largely unmet set of needs around low power, like super low power, long range, mobile connectivity. And I think particularly relevant in the industrial and the enterprise space, and network technology that enterprise customers can deploy themselves. It's an unlicensed spectrum I can delegate on the network operator. And that flexibility of deployment really lends itself to a lot of the problems that IoT solution providers face in helping their customers realize the value of IoT. The platform can have all the bells and whistles, but if you can't ingest data into the platform in a low cost way, your customer never gets to see those strengths.

The one thing that struck me about LoRa coming, and again, coming from my background was the technology of LoRaWAN fits a specific need. And by that I mean, the level of embedded development skills that you need in working at the edge in IoT is often really significant, or you're trading off cost. So you can go down the cellular module path, and that's a perfect solution in many cases. And that abstracts you away from the underlying hardware. So you, as an application developer, you can just focus on the application. Why can't we do that with LoRaWAN?

We've been applying the tried and tested techniques of firmware-based abstraction, commonly known as modem type products. And we've built a range of different cloud services, which are intended to take really quite complex areas of development, like calculating the location of an asset, and turn those into API calls. Because at the end of the day, developers don’t really want to spend their time calculating location, they want to spend their time using that data to build an application that does something interesting.

And so that's the approach that we've been taking at Semtech to really focus on simplifying the technology, and enabling the broad range of IoT developers, many of whom come from a cloud background for a mobile application development background enabling them to take advantage of technology.

Erik: So coming somewhat full circle back to connectivity, but with a completely different sound.

Alistair: Yeah, that's true.

Erik: The bulk of our conversation is going to be focused on LoRaWAN. But maybe you can give us a quick overview of Semtech. It seems Semtech certainly has a broader scope. And then I'm actually interested in understanding the role of LoRa within Semtech more the relationship. So how the idea is zoned, and what the ecosystem looks like, of course, even Semtech to some extent owns LoRa, but there's a very strong ecosystem that's actually bringing this LoRa to the market.

Alistair: I think Semtech is one of the oldest companies I've worked for, it's been around for about 60 years. Semtech has always focused on solving complex hardware related challenges. So it's a silicon company by background, still largely a silicon company today, and will be a silicon company tomorrow as well.

But we've got three real business units, one of which I'm responsible for rather at the moment. But the other two business units are our signal integrity and product group, and they're really focused on high bandwidth, video signal processing, data processing, building data tools for 5G base stations and data centers. So, really, actually, when it comes to things like small embedded devices, I barely right at the other end of the scale.

We have a business that is a protection business, which is in terms of pure physical scale closer to being, I guess, and it’s most of the consumer electronics that you use have protection in them against electrostatic damage, so either from your own body static or from environmental static, and that's what the protection group focuses on, building extremely small components that deal with those power surges in extraordinarily efficient way.

And then there's the Wireless and Sensing Business Unit which I'm responsible for. As the name suggests, there is a wireless component, which is largely LoRa. We also have a range of FSK products that we've had for a number of years. And the sensing business is focused on specific absorption, and protection. So mobile phones, increasingly these days, have a chip on board that senses proximity to your body, calculates how much radiation is being absorbed by your body, and moderates the output of the device accordingly to keep you within safe ranges.

And that's a product that we've had in market for a number of years, I think, arguably, we’re market leader in terms of the technology. We also have a wearables product range within that business as well, which uses a very similar set of techniques to pro different outcomes. So if there is a touch based interface, for example, those are scenarios that we support.

Now, the wireless business, LoRa and you're asked about the roles specifically of LoRa within Semtech, LoRa, I think is just beginning to enter growth phase. And so from Semtech’s perspective it's really a very big focus of our business, driving adoption, and making sure that we're supporting the growing ecosystem. Before my time with the company, I think the first realization upon coming across the startup that built or invented LoRa was, wow, this is a great technology in this does a bunch of things that particularly on the low power range but other technologies don't do.

But also, like every great technology, you need an ecosystem around it. There are many technologies, not just connectivity technologies that were great in and of itself. But they didn't grow a network of friends, they didn't grow any ecosystem. And so right at the beginning, Semtech focused on okay, what do we need to do to kickstart an ecosystem?

So there is LoRa, LoRa is the name for the physical layer of the chip, there is LoRaWAN, which is the protocol and the modulation that sits on top of LoRa. LoRaWAN is defined and managed by an organization called the LoRa Alliance, then that separation was one that Semtech made very early on recognizing that a small silicon company isn't going to be able to understand the needs of the broad market and indeed the protocol should be driven by the needs of that market, rather than any one member of that ecosystem.

We do have ownership of the IP behind LoRa and that's something that we've maintained, probably not for the reason you think. It's actually because one of the distinguishing characteristics of LoRa is also that wherever you go, whichever device you pick up, fundamentally, the radio layer is the same, and that her modularity creates a much higher level of interoperability straight out the box. It contrasts with some other technologies, which again, I'm firm believer in interoperability, and the need to provide developers with a toolkit that ranges from WiFi, Bluetooth Zigbee all the way through to cellular.

But so many of those technologies suffer from the fact that they're fundamentally different when it comes down to the hardware layer, and that drives the level of complexity into the development process and to the ecosystem, which [inaudible 13:28]. It takes work and investment to solve for.

Now, of course, what we want to do is make sure that the disadvantages of that singular IP ownership which could come about, which would be one provider, one source of chip, it doesn't hold lower back, and because of that, we followed quite an aggressive IP licensing policy to ensure that there are other suppliers who again can reach parts of the market that we can't reach, that understand customer needs that we don't understand, and have skills and capabilities that we don't. Like SD Micro, for example, to use that common IP, fundamentally, the radio is still the same but to package it in different ways and take it into other areas of the market, which is exactly what ST is doing with their SOC that they released last year.

So that's going to have it LoRa sits within Semtech and how we think about LoRa within the broader ecosystem. It's a homogenous layer. We want to ensure diversity of supply. We want to ensure diversity of ideation. We are led by our ecosystem. We are driven by our ecosystem. They are our customers and our masters at the same time. Because that's how you, I think, solve a global scale problem like how to connect all of these devices to the cloud.

Erik: And you can give us a quick briefing on where LoRa fits into the universe of connectivity solution? So, seems like the value proposition is split a little bit between extremes. On the one hand, you're looking at open spaces. So wide open spaces, long distances, even now I understand satellite connectivity. On the other end of the extreme, you're looking at indoor spaces with a lot of walls or physical impediments. So what are the specifications that make LoRa suitable solution for these two quite divergent environment?

Alistair: A lot of it comes down to range, because you'd expect me to say in connection with satellites, its range, low power, and mobility they’re in the smart home setting. And also in the enterprise and industrial space, one of the other characteristics with LoRa is it's both an extraordinarily resilient signal in that it propagates very well through really challenging environments, mentioned walls and in a steel machinery and all the rest of that.

That's something that we see it really driving adoption. It means that as an enterprise customer, for example, I don't have to go through a network planning exercise in my factory. I can install a gateway one enter the factory and a gateway the other end of the factory, and I can be confident that the entire factory is covered. It's the same reason why we see LoRaWAN used in in solutions like panic buttons for hotel workers. If you're trying to give a tool this is required by LoRaWAN in many states in the US to workers to call for help when they need it, that tool better work wherever they are, it better work in the stairwell, it better work in the lift shaft. And that's exactly what LoRaWAN enables.

Now, from a satellite perspective, there's a really three different models now deploying LoRaWAN networks. The first is public LoRaWAN networks. And there's an ever growing range of network providers globally. And we're getting down to the age old path of seeing those folks deepen and broaden coverage. There is private deployment, as I mentioned earlier, but now there is also satellites providing full coverage for LoRaWAN-based devices.

With the addition of it's a slightly different modulation that lends itself to super dense deployments, or really long range connectivity in the form of satellite, both LoRa orbit satellites, and geostationary satellites, obviously, which are much higher altitude above the Earth. But those networks are really about supporting things like logistics applications, tracking assets as they move around the planet, wildlife, agriculture, livestock, that type of thing, where you have remote, and geographically distributed assets, you need to know where they are. And that's something where we've seen a lot of interest, a lot of activity for the last year.

Erik: Let's say we have a farm, the farm has maybe internet connectivity in the barn in some central building, would it be the case that you'd then place a LoRa gateway that would connect to, to that connectivity, whether that could be satellite or cellular or?

Alistair: So there's one model, which is, I have connectivity, I'm going to plug in a gateway at the end of that connectivity and using that gateway connect tags on by 10,000 herd of cattle to that single gateway and I'm going to use the internet connection as backhaul to the cloud where they're depositing the data. Backhaul can be plugged back. It can be a cable. We see a great deal of usage of cellular as a backhaul. So cellular capable gateways that sit on a track and inside the truck, the gateway is collecting data from tens or hundreds of thousands in some cases of assets, and using that single backhaul to pump the data up to the cloud satellite, fits into that slot as well.

So really, any type of backhaul connectivity you can plug into the back of the gateway, you can use LoRaWAN in the local area or indeed the wide area around you to capture data from disparate sensors that run on coin cell batteries because the power profile of LoRaWAN, those sensors depending on how frequently they send data, of course, they can last up to 10 years on a single coin cell battery. If you were to use a cellular connection to each of those sensors, for example, that's the cost consideration of a cellular module.

But there's also the power consideration, which in operational situations like beef farming, the operational cost of catching a cow and sticking a battery in a sensor pretty much washes away any benefit you generated from the IoT solution in the first place. So that's the private deployment model really kind of falls into that kind of model of other backhaul LoRaWAN connecting all the sensors.

There's also public network coverage. So as I mentioned, we've got, I think, 100 plus countries now, where there's wide area coverage using LoRaWAN that supports a range of activities, particularly, let's take Western Europe, for example, we have fairly contiguous coverage throughout Western Europe, which means you can drive a truck using LoRaWAN as the backhaul through multiple countries and still collect data from the asset sitting on that truck. But those really the satellite kind of is a little bit of a hybrid, really to be honest because it's public provision. But it's either a LoRaWAN backhaul or something else backhaul.

Erik: So if I'm a farmer in Texas, I suppose this is a bit more of a CapEx solution, I have my private land, and I'm putting in the infrastructure to reach the extent of maybe where my herd is grazing, if I'm, let's say, a bike as a service operator in Europe, then I might be using the public infrastructure, what would be the business model? Is that an OPEX you pay per device per month per year? What would the business model look like there, the cost structure?

Alistair: We see a variety of different approaches. They’re available for many providers one price. We see that quite a lot in areas like smart building where building managers they don’t really want to get into the complexity of either device connected, so they go to a provider Microshare is fine example. Actually, Microshare is a member of the LoRaWAN ecosystem, they focus on smart building solutions, and they will provide you as a service offer, you pay per month per sensor.

At the other end of the scale, of course, you can go out to any number of OEMs in the market by LoRaWAN sensors, that you can then either connect to your own private network, if you're going to deploy the gateway yourself, or you can provision onto any one of the public networks that's available. And in that model, you pay connectivity charge per device. That flexibility I think is really key in IoT because for a lot of customers, CapEx is challenging, they want to pay as they go and pay as they accrue value. Those as a service models are really important, not just in LoRaWAN, I think in IoT in general actually.

Erik: And in the network operators are these typically more maybe niche or very focused providers or these companies like Telefónica and [inaudible 22:46] telecom that would then deploy this in parallel to their cellular networks?

Alistair: Again, it's both. We have a number of folks every net who are operating in South America, and Southeast Asia, NNNCo operating in Australia, they’re LoRaWAN specialist operators. They build public network infrastructure, and they're selling services around that public network infrastructure. We also have the [inaudible 23:14] traditional telcos who’re using LoRaWAN it's an add-on because as I said earlier cellular is a fabulous tool for a lot of IoT applications, particularly high bandwidth.

But if you've got to connect 100,000 assets for bikes, for example, if you've got to connect 200,000 assets and those assets have got to be able to survive on a very low power budget for a very long time, then cellular is not a great solution. Cellular base technologies like NB IoT don't have power profile of LoRaWAN. LoRaWAN has a great additional tool, and the way that certainly we see the world, and I'm happy to say, more and more IoT solution providers are seeing the world. As I said application developers need a toolbox, that toolbox needs to have a range of things in it, including solution to a low power long range scenario.

But it's as valuable as those individual technologies are, that value only increases if they're interoperable from a developer's perspective. I want to make decisions about the power I want to spend the data I want to get. I don't want to get into the specifics of the underlying network, and so interoperability between cellular technologies, WiFi. We work extensively with the Wireless Broadband Alliance, that interoperability is really key. And that interoperability is reflected in the operator base that we see. We see traditional telcos. We see new guys. We see a whole range of different things.

Erik: And then you also have a set of platforms supporting, I suppose, device, maybe integration be the right way to phrase it and then also asset management. So you have the LoRa edge platform. Are these separate platforms, or is LoRa Edge the platform that somebody would also be using to?

Alistair: The best way to think about LoRa Edge is it's really the third generation of LoRa silicon. And it was driven by what we saw customers asking for any asset management/logistics, that group has IoT use cases that spans multiple industries, where the knowledge of something where something is, and where it was is a key input into the application and that necessarily spans pretty much every IoT use case.

What LoRa Edge does is it brings the low power capability of LoRaWAN, but it also brings the ability to use GNSS, GPS base location and WiFi base location from a single chip. So today, pre LoRa Edge, if I wanted to build a device that could provide location data indoors and outdoors in a consistent way, I would have to build a device, maybe with a cellular modem and a WiFi chip added onto it for indoor location, or you'd already be one of the other indoor location technologies. And that device, the bomb costs does it cost of building that device, and the power required by that device is often a barrier.

What LoRa Edge does is it does away with those extra chips, and it does away with that extra power demand, and it enables customers to build a device that can provide location data, regardless of where it is, whether it's indoors or outdoors. And thanks to both public and private LoRaWAN networks and satellite, pretty much wherever it goes you can tell where it is. There's a trade off in that full GPS is extraordinarily power hungry, but it'll tell you with a fairly high degree of accuracy where something is.

LoRa Edge operates a slightly wider range in terms of accuracy. The tradeoff between power and accuracy is one that in many industries where the ability to track something using a battery powered sensor is key, that works very well and it fits that need perfectly. So we're seeing a lot of uptake in asset tracking, logistics, etc. But when we say platform, at least at the silicon layer, it's a piece of silicon.

Now, what LoRa Edge also does is it integrates into a cloud service, which takes that GNSS data and takes that WiFi data and turns it into what you want to develop. I don't want to know that you can see 10 satellites, I want to know where it is. And so when we talk about platform, we mean the endpoint, and we mean the backend cloud service that returns to the developer over an API call, the location coordinates of that asset that they can then use in their application to do great things for their customers.

Erik: But you mentioned for battery life, like kind of maximum 10 years, depending on data transfer. What is the range is around five miles, if it's clear, what is the potential there?

Alistair: I think I'm correct in saying at Lin, you may need to correct the answer because it changes so rapidly. I think the longest ever recorded is 600+ kilometers for terrestrial. But typically, ranges that we see in applications are anything from 500 yards to 5, 10, 15 miles. Unfortunately, the answer is it depends. If you're in an area that's built up with stone buildings, if you're in Frankfurt or London or that range can be lower 5, 10 miles range. If you're in the middle of the Sahara Desert, then you can expect to have a couple 100 miles range with no problem at all.

Power does dependent, again, it's something that we watch fairly closely. The basic rule of thumb is for a device that sends data five times a day, a reasonable expectation is to see 10 years life as a kind of battery. If you're sending data every two seconds, that will be see it flexes accordingly. We give you some specific technical specs, if that's helpful as well.

Erik: For accuracy, are we talking about maybe accuracy to within 10 meters, or what would be reasonable for location tracking?

Alistair: Yeah, certainly, we then turn down to as little as five meters, sometimes below for outdoor GNSS-based obviously, for WiFi, it's tighter than that. For GNSS, there is a slightly greater range lower level of accuracy, and the calculation of that location is done in the cloud. And that's partly why the device is so low power, but there is some tradeoff between that power saving and accuracy and the cost of the device itself, as I said, GPS.

Erik: And then the cost, let's say, we have a temperature humidity sensor that we want to put in a farm somewhere, what would be the cost of the bomb? Are we just for the transceiver?

Alistair: There is. I kind of think it after the consideration about cost is what does the use case bear. So if it's a temperature sensor, you shouldn't be looking at more than 10, 15, 20 euros, something of that order. That's kind of the sweet spot. But obviously, in the market and our customers, it depends what you can buy very, very high end sensors that have extraordinarily high levels of accuracy and [inaudible 31:23] before and you can buy sensors that are much more simple, and they tend to cost less. And it comes down really to what does the customer need to do, what problem are they trying to solve, which tool is the right one for the job?

As we said earlier, one of the things we focused on is making sure that there is a rich and vibrant ecosystem of partners, and as members of the LoRa Alliance doing our part to help support that growth so that those solutions and those hardware choices did exist for customers.

Erik: I imagine this is the type of solution that has really hundreds of different applications. But what are the ones that you see being deployed most commonly today?

Alistair: I mean, right now, utilities has always been a real sweet spot for LoRaWAN. And in many ways, utilities is kind of where the technology started, and particularly for AMR, Automated Meter Reading. And the reason for that is penetration. I can get below ground, below loads of concrete, and still support a very significant range. And utilities is one of those markets where it's a very simple cost calculation. I can employ someone to walk around and meet each meter, or I can automate the collection of data. And so we see lots of companies globally using LoRaWAN for meter reading.

We see heavy use in the smart building space as well. I mentioned Microshare earlier. Capgemini is another great example of company that's used LoRaWAN to roll out building management solutions to their offices globally. We see lots of use in the asset tracking space logistics base that talks about where is it, what's happening to it, is it lost. And that could range from finding tools or worksite to finding shared rental bikes to finding cows.

We see a lot of use in smart home, both for LoRa and for LoRaWAN and the distinction is we see lots of customers who are using LoRa as a radio layer and building their own customized protocols. And the Amazon site network is a good example of that. There's a long, long, long, long tail in how it is, I don't need to tell you I'm sure. Agriculture is a fairly significant area of adoption.

I think, in IOT, the ability to deploy a private network on the farm it's something that really makes LoRaWAN stand out that I don't have to go to my local cellular operator and try and encourage them to improve coverage; the cost profile and management and the ownership profile lends itself there.

But literally, I say this all the time, every single day, I find a different use case that I didn't know about before, I'm going oh, okay, wow, I never thought that someone would have thought of doing that with LoRa. And building tools that enable developers to go do interesting things, as I said, they'll do interesting things, they'll come up with all sorts of solutions to real world problems.

Erik: Is Semtech involved in maybe with key accounts or are there customers where you work hand in hand with them, or is it typically you provide the silicon and the software and then maybe they work with a system integrator or independently build the solutions?

Alistair: It really does depend. I mean, I think we're fortunate in that we have an extraordinary skills ecosystem. We spend a lot of time with the ecosystem partners helping them with radio design challenges and helping them. If they're new entrants to LoRaWAN, maybe they're coming from a space where they use other technologies, obviously helping them to onboard and to build their first product. With some customers, yes, we’re directly involved with the end customer.

But to be really clear, we don't sell solutions, our ecosystem sells solutions. So where we do have involvement within customers, it's in facilitation of ecosystems in a business. We sell silicon chips, and we do monetize some of our cloud services. We don't build solutions. We don't operate networks. We’ve done something that we've very, very deliberately left to a broader ecosystem to support the choice that customers need.

Erik: What's next for LoRa and LoRaWAN? What are the areas where you see in the next, 5-10 years, there could be significant improvement in terms of, but is it some particular specification or simplicity or new functionality?

Alistair: It’s sadly simplicity. It’s something that we're very, very focused on. As I said, somewhat glibly earlier, developers want easy, and there are a number of things that we're working on which will go further down that path. Of course, maintaining and improving on LoRa's range and power consumption, and that's something that we're constantly looking at improving geolocation accuracy.

In the ecosystem itself, we're at a point now where we've got really quite a healthy [inaudible 36:34] model, but that's obviously something that's really key. As I go from network to network, I can run technically, but I want to be able to run commercially as well. And there are a couple of providers who’ve emerged offering roaming hubs.

And then really, I think, optimizing LoRaWAN for areas of the IoT market where there are still gaps. And I think the smart home market is one of those areas where the constant drive for lower costs, and for lower power is one that will continue. So there's a range of different areas. Through a lot of what we do is, as I said earlier, as a member of the LoRa Alliance, the LoRa Alliance really does an excellent job in driving the evolution of the protocol based on the many feedback from the many members engaged in the LoRa Alliance and from the many customers that they work with. But on the silicon layer, we're mostly focused on make it better, make it work more efficiently, increase the range, increase the accuracy, provide a simpler set of tools that does the job even more effectively for developers.

Erik: I think we've covered a fair bit of ground already today. Is there anything important that we missed?

Alistair: No, I think that covers the basics. Hopefully, that gives people a good high level understanding of what LoRa does, what LoRaWAN does, what the difference between the two is and how it works. It's a complex space. I always thinking that the IoT ecosystem as a whole and include myself in that, simplicity has not been as much of a focus really. And you see that reflected in the tools that are available today particularly on the edge, particularly for connectivity.

And we've talked quite a lot about it’s part of our ecosystems change that. Hopefully, some of the folks listening who work in other ecosystems, they working on the same types of initiative, because at the end of the day, developers need simple, they need a toolkit that they can pick and choose from according to the needs of the job. And that toolkit needs to comprise multiple connectivity methods that are all equally easy to use together, not just independently.

Erik: The last question is, if somebody wants to learn more about how they might make use of LoRa, LoRaWAN, what would be the best resources? It’s the LoRa Alliance? Is it Semtech? Is there a resource hub somewhere that people should be using as their first stop?

Alistair: LoRa Alliance is an excellent place to start, particularly in terms of understanding the many use cases that LoRaWAN supports today. We also offer a range of developer education and tools through our developer portal, which is LoRa/developers.semtech.com. And there is both higher level kind of educational material, how does it work, but also, we're increasingly focusing on guided learning labs that you can go through as developer that get you there quicker, and make the process of building your first solution, first blinky, making that really simple so the developers gets the real business, can get to building applications.

There are lots of folks in the ecosystem as well providers who are ready to provide that excellent education tools, companies like for example, Zenith in the US they provide a lot of material that will help people understand what they could do with LoRaWAN and how it works.

Erik: Well, Alistair, really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for making time today.

Alistair: Yeah, I enjoy it as well, Erik. Thanks very much.

Erik: Thanks for tuning in to another edition of the industrial IoT spotlight. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter at IotoneHQ, and to check out our database of case studies on IoTONE.com. If you have unique insight or a project deployment story to share, we'd love to feature you on a future edition. Write us at erik.walenza@IoTone.com.

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