Government-Backed LPWAN IoT Network Goes Live In London

A free-to-access Internet of Things (IoT) network has gone live in London with the aim of removing cost and power barriers to startups creating M2M applications.

‘Digital Catapult Things Connected’ is supported by the government-supported Digital Catapult initiative, as well as academic institutions including UCL, Kings College London and Queen Mary University, along with BT and Everynet.

The infrastructure is powered by Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology and will initially comprise 50 LoRaWAN base stations across the capital.

London IoT network

Potential uses include traffic optimisation, health monitoring and drone management, and Digital Catapult hopes the network will eventually spread across the country, claiming there will be a £20 billion market by 2020.

“Things Connected is starting in London but we want it to cover the UK,” stated Jeremy Silver, Digital Catapult CEO. “To capture more of the digital dividend in the UK economy, we need to accelerate the adoption of the internet of things. Things Connected empowers London’s terrific tech community to test their IoT innovations so they can begin to improve the quality of life for those living or working across the capital. This is the beginning of our work.

“We aim to roll Things Connected out to help remove the barriers to IoT technology for businesses, and create new revenue opportunities for entrepreneurs and for smaller and larger companies.”

Capital opportunity

Digital Catapult is claiming the use of Wi-Fi makes it more power efficient than cellular networks or proprietary technology, encouraging a wider range of IoT applications. However it is worth noting the organisation has also given its support to a cellular-based ‘Weightless-N’ standard network in the past.

The mobile industry is rallying behind narrowband-IoT (Nb-IoT) as a challenger to Wi-Fi, and hopes greater power efficiency and wider range will eventually give operators the upper hand.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is keen to continue the success of his predecessor Boris Johnson in championing the capital’s tech industry and his office welcomed the launch.

“London is already a global force in the tech and digital industries but if we are to stay competitive, increase productivity and make the most of opportunities for growth in this crucial sector, innovation is key,” said Rajesh Argrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business. “Digital Catapult Things Connected will help to drive business innovation by embracing Internet of Things technologies across London.

“By continuing to make our city smart and connected, we are showing that London is Open as we work to improve the lives and wellbeing of many by tackling the big issues we face in healthcare, transport and energy.”

Quiz: What do you know about London’s technology scene?

Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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