For many consumer applications of the Internet of Things (IoT), wireless communication standards like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are key technologies. They might be resourceful enough to scale within a single home where communication range and power consumption is not a big issue. When looking at a neighborhood or city-wide deployment where battery-operated devices need to communicate over several kilometers (for several month or years with a single charge), the afore mentioned technologies reach their limits. The term Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) describes recently arisen wireless communication alternatives which aim to support deployments at a larger scale and try to fulfill the following properties:
Low Cost: The price of the communication hardware should be low, since a a deployment might involve many million of devices (which might even be discardable).
Extended Communication Range: Devices should be able to reach base stations within a range of several kilometers (also from within buildings or basements).
Low Power Consumption: Devices are battery depended or rely on energy harvesting and should survive without battery charge or replacement for years.
Scalability: Shared resources like communication end-points (base stations) and spectrum are limited. Devices need to handle scarce resources well.
LPWANs are already in operation for scenarios such as street lamp management or smart metering, but there are many more applications, e.g., pet tracking, environmental sensing, parking resource monitoring and waste management. Swisscom recently deployed an LPWAN in Zurich and Geneva based on the LoRa technology from Semtech and allows us to use their infrastructure for this master thesis. Swisscom is part of the LoRa alliance, a non-profit association with the aim to standardize the LPWANs.
LoRa is not the only LPWAN technology available. There is also SIGFOX and LTE-M, which claim to have similar properties. As a first step get familiar with the topic and create an overview and comparison for available LPWAN technologies. Further to be able to run measurement campaigns, a testbed is needed. The testbed should be able to measure network performance and energy consumption for different antenna, microcontroller and sensor configurations and should be portable (battery operated) to be used at different locations. The testbed can then be employed to run measurements to evaluate communication and networking properties. In addition, the following questions should be answered: The network stack provided by Semtech is software-based and runs on a microcontroller. Can it be optimized in terms of power consumption and throughput performance? Is it possible to create a more compact stack which also runs on micrcocontrollers with less program memory?
- Initial technology overview and comparison
- Testbed hardware and software
- Measurement campaign description and results
- Optimized network stack (optional)
- Written report and oral presentation
- Download full description
Keywords: LPWAN, Wireless, Networking, Embedded Systems, Medium Access Control
Contacts: Stefan Schmid, 63 26406, CAB J71.4, stefan.schmid at inf.ethz.ch
Supervisors: Prof. Th. Gross, 63 27342, RZ H1.2, thomas.gross at inf.ethz.ch