Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom just announced plans to build a nationwide network in South Korea to connect the intelligent devices required for the smart cities of the future. It’s hailing the new LoRaWAN-based network as the world’s first for commercial use (although KPN in The Netherlands says it will also have a nationwide network available by June, and Swisscom is deploying its national network this year as well). These are in addition to several community-based networks already taking root around the world.
By now it should be clear that the next big computing trend after smartphones is the Internet of Things (IoT), the poorly named movement to put a chip inside everything. LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide-Area Network) is a low-power, long-range, and low-bandwidth networking solution that’s ideal for communications between the sensors that will blanket smart cities. It’s meant to augment, not replace networking solutions that connect bandwidth- and power-hungry devices like laptops and smartphones.
LoRaWAN will initially be rolled out in the city of Daegu using the 900MHz frequency band, before being made available nationally by mid 2016. Samsung describes the network as follows:
Daegu will serve as a test bed for the IoT network, and focus on setting up and adopting infrastructure for renewable energy solutions, cloud platforms and big data analytics of healthcare and medical services, as well as electric vehicle infrastructure for autonomous cars. For example, streetlights in the city will collect weather and traffic information using IoT sensors, enabling cost savings by automatically adjusting the lighting level and also sending air pollution status information.
South Korea has long been a trailblazer in telecom deployments. It deployed WiMax, for example, long before it was available elsewhere and it was also an early adopter of DMB television. Nevertheless, being first doesn’t always mean that the world will follow.
Update May 24th, 8:50AM ET: Added mention of The Netherlands and Switzerland.