AMSTERDAM — Wienke Giezeman is a man on a mission: since 2015, he’s been busy creating a decentralized LoRaWAN based internet of things (IoT) network which has no single owner and no single point of control. His goal is to make it easy for people to focus on the business value created by IoT, and not have to worry about the technology.
Giezeman stood on the stage at his The Things Conference here earlier this month to announce some major breakthroughs that could just tip the balance for mass deployment of LoRaWAN devices and gateways. This includes a very low cost $69 indoor gateway, a generic software defined IoT node device incorporating multiple sensors, a security chip in conjunction with Microchip Technology, and a partnership with Tencent to accelerate LoRaWAN network expansion among the Chinese developer community.
The slick, well-coordinated announcements were right out of the textbook of Steve Jobs’ Apple in the early days. The 1,300 or so members of the excited audience gasped, cheered and applauded at each of piece of news. It almost felt like Giezeman was the Pied Piper, leading his dedicated followers, all determined to join him on his mission to democratize the IoT.
As CEO of The Things Industries (TTI), Giezeman has been building an open community LoRaWAN network called The Things Network (TTN). He wants to break the hold of operators of proprietary closed networks, many of whom were using subscriptions per device as their revenue model. To highlight the problem, one senior executive at the conference privately described to me how after Arm bought Stream Technologies, their customers were left stranded without any support.
Wienke Giezeman on stage at The Things Conference earlier this month. (Image courtesy of TTN via YouTube).
Giezeman told EE Times that silicon and telco companies are entering the IoT with a zero-sum game approach, which effectively restricts market growth. What he has done with TTI and TTN is to focus on growing the network using open source code.
“This is why all the announcements we made have an open version you can use without us,” Giezeman said. “So, the security solution we sell with Microchip comes with a re-keying mechanism. It basically allows users to move to another service provider for their LoRaWAN network and gives them the freedom to choose their own vendor. Or with the gateway, it is able to connect to the service of any of our competitors.”
He believes this will only increase the adoption and hence increase the size of the LoRaWAN market.
From a small network covering Amsterdam with a handful of gateways back in 2015, The Things Network is now an open LoRaWAN network with more than 6,200 gateways in over 130 countries, all powered by a community very much with an open source philosophy.