How are copper spools, garbage bins, a cool wireless technology, and Cisco related?

Answer: Cisco’s LoRaWAN Solution 2.0!  I know that may sound cryptic – let me explain this better.

The ability to track the location of things like copper spools, garbage bins etc., also called ‘Asset Tracking’ is important. Tracking the location of assets can help prevent thefts, retrieve stolen assets and make sure assets are used efficiently. Consider copper thefts – a single copper spool can sell for as much as $70,000. This makes stealing copper spools from utility substations, construction sites, or rail yards attractive to thieves. Consequently, copper theft is costing businesses in the U.S. some $1 billion a year.  Or consider waste management – garbage trucks make millions of rounds gathering garbage from empty bins, inflating costs and unnecessarily impacting the environment.

How do you prevent this?

By installing location sensors for assets like copper spools to geo-fence them, i.e. restrict them to a certain location or site. Or by using sensors that transmit the location of waste bins which are full, to make garbage collection more efficient. But, sensors that use GPS technology to determine location are expensive. They also consume a lot of battery power and have to be charged often – in some cases weekly. This makes sensors using GPS suboptimal for usage in large scale, city wide IoT applications.

The answer: Cisco LoRaWAN solution 2.0

Cisco is releasing new capabilities for its LoRaWAN products to address problems such as the above. Support for native geolocation now allows Cisco’s LoRaWAN gateways to approximate a sensor’s location. Sensors using LoRaWAN are inherently more cost-effective as they no longer depend on a separate GPS subsystem. They consume only a fraction of the power, with batteries lasting years. As a result, sensing and location tracking becomes more cost-effective to deploy and more practical to operate.

At the same time, Cisco introduced new software that enables its LoRaWAN gateway to operate as a standalone unit.  The standalone solution is designed for customers with existing access networks, whereas the Cisco IR809/IR829 gateway based solution provides optimal backhaul flexibility for new network buildouts.  Further, Class B end-point support now allows gateways to poll sensors for information as and when needed. This provides the operator of the LoRaWAN network with the flexibility to control the polling of sensors to optimal durations as well as on-demand, and in order to manage communications and power consumption effectively.  Lastly, Cisco added capabilities to group sensors and talk to each group separately to reduce communication time with sensors and make them more responsive.

NNNCo is impressed with Cisco’s LoRaWAN solution” said Eric Hamilton, CTO at National Narrowband Network Communications. “It combines the classical Cisco environment with the cutting edge capabilities of LoRaWAN in a rugged, easy-to-install and manage environment. Cisco’s LoRaWAN Gateway is the flagship of our network – we rely on Cisco to provide us with a scalable solution that gives us computing power at the edge when our customers need it.” NNNCo is Australia’s LoRaWAN operator that offers an IoT end-to-end scalable service at low cost with a secure ecosystem.

LoRaWAN is considered an LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) Wireless technology, and this technology category generally fills the gap between short-range wireless and cellular communication technologies and is purpose-designed for low power, low rate, long range data collection IoT use cases.

“LPWA technologies hold great appeal for lightweight, pervasive IoT applications”, said Carrie MacGillivray, Vice President for Mobility & Internet of Things at IDC.  “Among them, LoRaWAN appears particularly promising due to its efficient usage of free spectrum, superior power efficiency, and strong multi-vendor support.  As one of the founding members of LoRa Alliance, Cisco has played a pivotal role in pioneering LoRaWAN and taking it from concept to customer PoCs and success”.

The Cisco LoRaWAN solution 2.0 enables rapid deployment and accelerates time to value for new IoT applications. Adoption is underway in areas ranging from asset management in industrial areas to smart parking in cities to smart agriculture, and many more. The cost-effective, small form factor LoRaWAN gateway delivers the secure, carrier-grade, long range connectivity at the heart of Cisco’s new LoRaWAN solution 2.0. With new geolocation capabilities, the Cisco solution creates new market opportunities for both enterprises and services providers that can track assets to improve logistics, reduce congestion, prevent theft and enhance operational efficiency. LoRaWAN is an open standard and has a strong and growing eco-system to provide choice and investment protection.

Technical Description of New Capabilities

  • Geolocation support through Time Difference of Arrival (TDoA) and Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) for GPS-free end-point location tracking at lower power consumption levels
  • Listen Before Talk (LBT) compliance with Japan local regulation
  • Class B end-point support with scheduled receive slots for server-initiated end-point polling
  • New software for the Cisco IXM gateway to operate as a standalone unit or as an interface of the Cisco IR809/IR829 routers

The LoRa Alliance is hosting its 8th LoRa Alliance meeting in Philadelphia, this week from June 12th-14th, 2017, where Cisco has a booth and will be presenting its Cisco LoRaWAN solution 2.0. The LoRa Alliance membership has grown to over 460 members worldwide with 250+ ongoing trials including city deployments, and has gained 200 new members since March 2016. LoRa Alliance also offers a certification program to guarantee interoperability worldwide.

To learn more about these exciting new developments, please visit Cisco Low Power Wide Area Wireless Solution and LoRa Alliance.


Vikas Butaney

Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cisco SD-WAN, Multicloud, and Industrial IoT