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SoftBank rolls out LoRa network in Japan

Steve Rogerson
September 15, 2016
Japanese operator SoftBank is rolling out a LoRaWan network this year and will offer end-to-end IoT services, ranging from device and application support to consulting.
Low cost and low power LPWA networks are seen as essential to IoT services, which are expected to see explosive growth. In addition to meeting the low cost and energy efficiency requirements for IoT, LoRaWan possesses characteristics that realise wide-range communications.
By connecting various types of equipment and devices that previously were not capable of wireless communications, connectivity is made possible via an LPWA network. In addition to carrier-level quality mobile network operations, by using its network line that includes 3G, LTE, wifi and fixed-line, SoftBank will be able to offer IoT services that meet differing customer preferences, using an optimised LoRa network.
SoftBank will work to realise an IoT environment for industry sectors that require low cost and low power network construction: equipment monitoring and control at commercial facilities, buildings, warehouses and other facilities, automated gas and water meter reading, senior citizen and child monitoring, infrastructure monitoring (roads, tunnels, rail tracks and so on) and logistics and fleet management for cars, lorries and buses.
SoftBank is partnering with LPWA network company Actility, electronics manufacturing services provider Hon Hai Precision Industry and LoRa technology company Semtech.
“SoftBank is a recognised global leader in all the important layers of the internet economy,” said Actility president and CEO Mike Mulica. “We are thrilled to be working together with the SoftBank team on their IoT strategy, and, in particular, with their commitment to LPWA and their forthcoming LoRaWan deployment in Japan.”
Hon Hai Precision Industry’s vice president Steve Teng added: “With SoftBank's adoption of LoRaWan technology, we greatly look forward to seeing innovative communication and IoT services. As a long-term business partner, we will work closely together with SoftBank to promote the IoT business that utilises LoRaWan technology.”
SoftBank will deploy LoRaWan first and actively work to construct an IoT network, and will aim to deploy the full set of LPWA networks, including Cat M1 and NB-IoT, to ensure that it can efficiently comply with differing environments.
“We are excited to see that SoftBank has decided to launch an IoT network based on Semtech's LoRa wireless RF technology,” said Semtech vice president Marc Pegulu. “It's also a great example of how ecosystem partners from the LoRa Alliance continue to work together to establish the LoRaWan protocol as the leading solution for low power, wide area networks worldwide.”
LoRaWan is an LPWA networking standard that uses the unlicensed 920MHz band in Japan. In addition to meeting the low cost and energy efficiency requirements for IoT, LoRaWan possesses characteristics that realise wide area connectivity.
The main features include battery life of up to ten years, communications range of multiple kilometres, connectivity for many devices, and low-cost communication modules – one module costs 100s of yen.