Cable companies are “uniquely well suited” to partner with municipalities on smart city projects, according to a new report from NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. Initially, this might seem a stretch, considering that smart cities will rely heavily on wireless sensors and with few exceptions, cable companies don’t operate cellular networks. The report author argues, however, that cable LoRaWAN offerings, operating in unlicensed spectrum bands, will be well suited to supporting the smart city.
Other factors that make cable companies well positioned for the smart city, according to the report, include cable companies’ dense metro fiber infrastructure; their extensive Wi-Fi infrastructure, which extends into and out of customer homes; their high-speed broadband services, which increasingly are capable of supporting gigabit speeds and their customer support resources.
The report, titled “Cable Companies and Municipalities: Natural Smart Community Partners” was written by Bill Maguire, founder of smart city consultancy Connected Communities.
LoRaWAN technology is designed specifically for the Internet of Things. In North America, LoRaWAN operates in the ISM band – a swath of spectrum between 902-928 MHz available for unlicensed use. Key LoRaWAN capabilities include long battery life and long range (up to nine miles in rural areas and up to one and a half miles in urban areas). Bandwidth is relatively low – in the range of 290 bps to 50 kbps – but smart sensors typically don’t need high bandwidth.
Some cable companies – including Cox and Comcast – have launched LoRaWAN offerings in competition with cellular-based offerings from major wireless carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
LoRaWAN is one element of broader cable company IoT offerings.
For example, Comcast has partnered with companies such as Pansofik to support the Comcast machineQ IoT offering. Pansofik offers sensors for monitoring buildings’ mechanical, environmental, electrical and plumbing systems. The company’s technology is being tested by public housing authorities to save energy and reduce operational costs.
Cox’s Cox2M offering also targets specific applications, including smart city applications.
In addition, Maguire’s report notes that Charter has revealed plans for what the company is calling a “6G” network that will integrate a small cell architecture with advanced DOCSIS technology and which could support smart city applications.
Maguire isn’t the first industry observer to see LoRaWAN as a strong asset for cable companies. In July, analyst firm GlobalData made a similar observation.