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Long-Range Communications in Unlicensed Bands: the Rising Stars in the IoT and Smart City Scenarios


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      Connectivity is probably the most basic building block of the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm. Up to know, the two main approaches to provide data access to the \emph{things} have been based either on multi-hop mesh networks using short-range communication technologies in the unlicensed spectrum, or on long-range, legacy cellular technologies, mainly 2G/GSM, operating in the corresponding licensed frequency bands. Recently, these reference models have been challenged by a new type of wireless connectivity, characterized by low-rate, long-range transmission technologies in the unlicensed sub-GHz frequency bands, used to realize access networks with star topology which are referred to a \emph{Low-Power Wide Area Networks} (LPWANs). In this paper, we introduce this new approach to provide connectivity in the IoT scenario, discussing its advantages over the established paradigms in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and architectural design, in particular for the typical Smart Cities applications.

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