» ISP News » 

Three UK Pilots New Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN)

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019 (8:39 am) - Score 8,912
wireless radio spectrum mast

Mobile operator Three UK, specifically their Three Wholesale division, has today announced their first pilot of a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN / LPWA), which is intended to form the foundation for an eventual nationwide roll-out in order to help connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices (e.g. remote sensors, smart devices etc.).

Existing 4G and new 5G mobile networks are obviously getting much better at delivering fast mobile broadband connectivity to consumers, although such networks aren’t ideal (power hungry and expensive) for connecting smaller battery-powered (lasting for 5-10 years) remote sensors and other devices that may only have very low data demands. You also need a signal that can penetrate deeper indoors and even underground.

As a result of this a lot of operators have been developing LPWAN technology to complement their primary networks. Such solutions generally don’t offer fast data links (anything from a few Kbps to 5-7Mbps) and are more targeted at covering a very wide area with only minimal power requirements. Not much good for modern consumer demands but perfect for IoT kit.

In this case Three UK’s pilot LPWAN network, which is being designed alongside a unit of CK Hutchison’s telecom division (CKH IOD), appears to be using the fairly recent 4G based LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machines / 3GPP Release 13) standard. In theory this can deliver a peak symmetric speed of 1Mbps via just 1.4MHz of bandwidth, although most IoT kit won’t require more than 0.1Mbps (i.e. a possible future 2G placement).

NOTE: The latest Release 14 for LTE-M can potentially go up to 4Mbps download and 7Mbps upload via 5MHz of bandwidth.

Interestingly the operator also appears to be testing another LPWAN technology alongside LTE-M called NB-IoT (Narrowband – IoT), which has a max data rate of 159Kbps via just 180KHz of bandwidth. Overall LTE-M may be faster and aligned more closely with 4G capabilities, although it’s more costly than NB-IoT and cannot yet be put into guard band frequency (i.e. bits of spectrum that exist between bands in order to prevent interference).

Darren King, Head of Business Development at Three Wholesale, said:

“The launch of our LPWA pilot is an exciting development for Three UK, giving our Enterprise customers access to a broader range of services. The low power, long battery life and excellent reach of LPWA technology has great potential to support companies in any industry where companies need continuous information from their infrastructure in order to optimise service.

We expect that we will be able to start offering LPWA services to a range of industries over the next few years, as we extend the sectors we offer the service in.”

At present three UK’s pilot network has been set-up at the Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory in Gateshead UK (InTEGReL), which is a collaboration between Northern Gas Networks, Newcastle University, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water and Siemens.

Utility suppliers are a key target for LPWAN systems as they have many monitoring and control devices, which could all benefit from such networks. The LPWA at InTEGReL will enable researchers to deploy wireless devices throughout the experimental energy network to identify problems and gather performance data (i.e. helping to improve service reliability, detect faults, make customer billing more accurate and lower carbon emissions).

Networks like this can operate alongside a variety of different radio bands and they often make use of unlicensed spectrum in the sub-gigahertz territory (e.g. 868MHz or lower), although in this case Three UK doesn’t say what bands they’re testing with (we have asked and will report back if they give us an answer).

Add to Diigo
Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Name

    Please tell them to focus on network coverage and capacity development rather than non-senses.

    • Avatar Lora rules

      Many people think the development of low power radio offers a better future than an environment ever more saturated with 4G/LTE traffic

  2. Avatar Michael V

    This is great that Three are creating an IoT network.

  3. Avatar Chris Wright

    We used to have 38mbps three years ago with Three. Now we are lucky if it gets above 1mbps! On 4G. We have been thrown under a bus as they do nothing about this so would recommend EE in our area at Penrith in Cumbria once my contract ends whom I tested with a EE data sim and got 46mbps! On holiday in Isle of Wight and have varying speeds of 46 to a whopping 92mbps on a bit of an island and that reflects anywhere you go from Yarmouth to Ventnor to Ryde.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £21.00 (*25.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £50 Shopping Voucher
  • TalkTalk £21.95 (*36.00)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £21.99 (*34.98)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £75 Cashback
  • SSE £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2539)
  2. FTTP (2261)
  3. FTTC (1681)
  4. Building Digital UK (1618)
  5. Politics (1448)
  6. Openreach (1433)
  7. Business (1261)
  8. Statistics (1115)
  9. FTTH (1108)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1060)
  11. Fibre Optic (978)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (925)
  13. Wireless Internet (921)
  14. 4G (919)
  15. Virgin Media (871)
  16. EE (606)
  17. Sky Broadband (602)
  18. TalkTalk (587)
  19. Vodafone (535)
  20. 3G (418)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact