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Jisc gives universities access to Sigfox LPWAN


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Jisc has taken a step to encourage the deployment of low power wide area networks (LPWANs) around the country’s colleges and universities.

The not-for-profit provider of digital services to the higher education sector has set up a partnership with WND UK, which operates the Sigfox LPWAN, to install base stations on campuses.

The move is aimed at supporting the deployment of internet of things (IoT) devices to provide new services such as asset tracking and creating a smart environment. It is also in line with Jisc’s Education 4.0 vision, which includes an emphasis on investing in on-campus IoT solutions.

WND UK has offered to provide a free kit to interested institutions and will provide 100 free Sigfox subscriptions per year per approved site for the duration, usually three years, of its individual agreements with colleges and universities.

Tim Harris, chief executive of WND UK, indicated there will be no limit on the number of institutions that can access the agreement but added: “As we secure more sites and coverage increases even more than it is now, the need for sites to enhance coverage will reduce, so we will naturally become more selective.”

The collaboration follows an agreement earlier this year for Jisc to use its Janet Network infrastructure to give institutions access to the long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) operated by TTN.

Campus experience

Sue Attewell, Jisc’s head of change research and development, said: "We want to see a campus experience that meets students’ needs and prepares them for the fourth industrial revolution and beyond.

“Many of our members including Cambridge University, South West College, Newcastle University, Edinburgh College and the Open University are already using IoT in innovative ways.

“We hope by working with Sigfox we can encourage more universities to take on the opportunity to easily use this emerging technology to transform teaching, learning and the physical campus experience.”

Sigfox is a global network operator supporting low power devices that transmit small amounts of data. Its LPWAN has helped to popularise the use of the technology in recent years.

Jisc said that Sigfox is currently accessible through 56% of the area of the UK, with a number of universities already providing connections.

LoRaWAN is a standard protocol for wide area networks moving small volumes of data.

Image by Steve Johnson, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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