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Digita and Actility rolling out LoRa network in Finland

Steve Rogerson
September 8, 2016
French LPWAN company Actility and Finnish broadcast network operator Digita are teaming up to take the next step towards a fully-connected Finland by rolling out a LoRa network.
Following the completion of a successful trial period of several months, the companies believe the market is ready for a full-scale commercial deployment. The service will be available for local implementation everywhere in Finland from October 2016.
Rollout for full area coverage is starting in major cities. This is the first commercial LoRa network for IoT to be deployed in Finland.
The deployment emphasises the opportunity that LoRa brings for companies such as Digita, which is not a traditional cellular operator, to leverage the tall radio and television masts of broadcast networks to become key players in the IoT.
The LoRa network will enable services across a wide variety of domains, including smart cities, smart agriculture and logistics. Exploring the benefits for smart homes, during the trial period Digita and partner VVO Group evaluated a way to use Actility's platform, which monitored temperature and humidity in 200 of VVO Group's properties in the city of Espoo.
"Maintaining healthy living conditions is easy when the factors that affect residents' comfort can be recognised in real time," said Kimmo Rintala, head of VVO Group's property development unit. "Continuous measuring also enables us to detect obvious apartment-specific faults even before the residents themselves have time to react. Digita's eliminates the need for property-specific installations, as it is based on sensors within apartments that are able to communicate directly with Digita's system."
The LoRa core network service is delivered through Actility's ThingPark wireless integrated IoT platform. Making use of Digita's broadcast masts means the technology can be deployed at very high points overlooking the city and be exploited to its full range; 15 of Digita's 38 main masts are over 300m high.
"Finland is an innovative country, with a real hunger for new technologies," said Olivier Hersent, CTO of Actility. “The IoT provides fantastic new opportunities to create compelling services for citizens and government. The increased area that can be reached quickly by implementing LoRa technology on broadcast masts ensures even better coverage and reduces the required number of gateways. With our partners at Digita, we expect to be able to beat the current LoRa range record of 15km.”
LoRaWan is designed to connect low-cost, battery-operated sensors over long distances in harsh environments that were previously too challenging or cost prohibitive to connect. A LoRaWan gateway deployed on a building or tower can connect to sensors more than 10km away or to water meters deployed underground or in basements. The protocol provides benefits in terms of bi-directionality, security, mobility and accurate localisation. These benefits can enable the diverse use cases and business models that could enable deployments of large scale LPWan IoT networks globally.
"We believe IoT technology will revolutionise our daily lives," said Digita's COO Markus Ala-Hautala. “It can be used, for example, to monitor building conditions, save energy, prevent water damage, prevent theft, locate objects, locate pets, optimise farming and monitor health. In theory, there is no limit to the kinds of applications that are possible.”
Digita broadcasts radio and TV programmes to all of Finland. It develops and supplies internet TV and radio services along with services based on network infrastructure. Its main clients are media houses and mobile and broadband operators.
Qualcomm, Nokia and Finnish broadcasting company Yle last week conduct the first demonstration of the LTE Supplemental Downlink (SDL) technology in a TV broadcast band. Allowing for interactive broadcast services, LTE SDL in a TV broadcast band provides opportunities for broadcasters, which is also technically viable and does not harm digital terrestrial television.