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Oct 19, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Locating Weightless IoT Devices

Posted by Dave McHoul

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This is the final blog of a six part series dedicated to locating Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) IoT devices. Previous posts discussed locating IngenuLoRaLTE-M1NB-IoT and Sigfox devices. This post looks at the practical challenges associated with locating devices that communicate via the Weightless LPWAN protocol.  

In the Internet of Things, millions of connected "things" record and communicate important data via the internet to central platforms or other “things”. With predictions of more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020 (Gartner), scale and cost are very important. LPWAN addresses these challenges by providing efficient, long range communications capabilities which enable devices to transmit small amounts of data (per device) at a lower cost.

Accurately and efficiently locating mobile "things" is a key data element in an integrated IoT strategy. With its power, bandwidth and cost constraints, LPWAN presents unique location challenges.

Weightless Defined

Weightless is an open standard for IoT communications networks developed and coordinated by a non-profit group, the Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG). Weightless offers three similar but different standards to support different IoT use cases.

As an open standard, Weightless can be developed and marketed by any company wishing to provide connectivity. This in theory promotes competition and innovation which can decrease costs.  Weightless is also spectrum-independent, able to be operated in any unlicensed sub 1-GHz frequency band.

Unfortunately, Weightless has yet to gain much traction with the major IoT players. 

Locating Weightless Devices

Weightless does not have inherent location capabilities, requiring the use of an external method such as GPs, Wi-Fi or cell-based.  As Weightless caters mainly to the ultra-low-bandwidth and cost IoT use cases, GPS does not make sense due to its cost and battery draining properties. Cell-based methods are comparable in cost to Wi-Fi, but are not as accurate, making Wi-Fi the technology of choice to locate Weightless devices. 

For a complete analysis of LPWAN IoT location, download our eBook: