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Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

The Wireless Networks Research Group (WiNE) from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) is centred in the research, innovation and development of networked technologies with special interest in wireless communication technologies. UOC members are key active members in standardisation and open sourcing activities in the context of industrial low power wireless networks and IoT, being active participants at the IETF, ETSI interop events and co-leading open source protocol stack projects (e.g. OpenWSN). The WINE members have extensive experience in protocol design and development, being contributed to the implementation of prominent standards such as IEEE802.15.4e, and the IETF 6TiSCH Stack. This experience is also corroborated by their participation in industrial transfer projects with industries, introducing novel uses of LPWAN technologies such as LoRaWAN in highly mobile environments.

Interoperability and standards are key challenges facing the development and adoption of IoT solutions across Europe.

The internet of things (IoT) is a relatively new field and, as such, does not have established universal standards. This is slowing down the development and adoption of the technology as businesses developing IoT solutions need to test and adapt them to work with multiple protocols. To be commercially viable IoT solutions need to be interoperable with standards popular in the market.

Solution testing is a real barrier to market entry as there are few opportunities to test. Businesses usually have to travel to events set up by standardisation bodies and may be on the other side of the World. For startups, the costs associated with these opportunities to test can make it impossible to participate, significantly slowing product development and time to market.

Digital Catapult is part of a European consortium delivering F-Interop, a programme supporting growth of the IoT sector.

These issues are not unique to the UK, so Digital Catapult supported F-Interop, a three year EU-sponsored programme that aims to research and develop IoT industry standards, develop a platform that enables remote interoperability and performance testing for IoT solution developers, and support researchers and small and medium businesses that are developing IoT products.

F-Interop wanted to extend its platform so it could offer interoperability testing for LoRaWAN based solutions

LoRaWAN is a media access control protocol for low power wide area networks (LPWAN). Its main benefit is that it can connect low power devices over long range at a low cost.

The rise of LPWAN technologies is led by the LoRaWAN open standard, seen as the most simple and open technology. LoRaWAN is being massively adopted by sensor integrators and device manufacturers and
exploited by network operators leveraging cellular network
infrastructure. Analysts and operators are in agreement that most of the growth in IoT will come from LoRaWAN devices.

Relevant standardisation activities are starting around the technology which will require conformance, interoperability and performance evaluation frameworks to accelerate their development.

Digital Catapult’s own Things Connected programme is already working with hundreds of UK startups that could benefit from LoRaWAN testing tools. Digital Catapult supported the University of Catalunya to develop a remote LoRaWAN testing tool to ensure the tool was developed along best practice, and became available for Digital Catapult’s startup network to use.

Digital Catapult collaborates with Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, to further develop F-Interop platform enabling LoRaWAN testing for the first time

Digital Catapult selected Universitat Oberta de Catalunya via an open call process, providing €60k in funding to develop an extension of the F-Interop Framework that enables LoRaWan certification testing. Providing this opportunity for remote testing makes it easier for developers to test products earlier in their development and to enter the certification process with a higher level of certainty.

Digital Catapult supported Universitat Oberta de Catalunya over a period of 12 months providing essential expertise and hardware. It has also introduced the university to The LoRa Alliance, a non-profit association of more than 500 companies, committed to enabling large scale deployment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) IoT through the development and promotion of the LoRaWAN open standard. This is a critical introduction as the members of The LoRa Alliance are all target users of the product.

LoRaWAN testing now available remotely via F-Interop

As a result of the F-LoRA project, developers who are implementing their own LoRaWAN MAC layer can test to see if their implementation conforms with the standard specification using the F-Interop platform.

This will have an impact on the industry and IoT ecosystem because it will be easier for startups to get their solutions to market faster.

The remote nature of the testing makes it more accessible and cheaper for developers to test their products earlier in the life cycle and more frequently during development if needed. This increased the chance of certification being a smooth process.

The funding, support and hardware that Digital Catapult provided gave Universitat Oberta de Catalunya the opportunity to develop this tool which would not have been possible otherwise. The result is an asset that will benefit the whole LoRaWan community.

New test suite in F-Interop for LoRaWAN protocol

LoRaWAN developers can now test remotely the conformance with the standard of their implementations.