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IPv6 over Low Power Wide-Area Networks

Document Charter IPv6 over Low Power Wide-Area Networks WG (lpwan)
Title IPv6 over Low Power Wide-Area Networks
Last updated 2023-03-06
State Approved
WG State Concluded
IESG Responsible AD Éric Vyncke
Charter edit AD Éric Vyncke
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A new generation of wireless technologies has emerged under the generic name of Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA), with a number of common characteristics, which make these technologies unique and disruptive for Internet of Things applications.

Those common traits include an optimized radio modulation, a star topology, frame sizes in the order of tens of bytes transmitted a few times per day at ultra-low speeds and sometimes variable MTUs, and, though downstream may be supported, a mostly upstream transmission pattern that allows the devices to spend most of their time in low- energy deep-sleep mode.

This enables a range of several kilometers and a long battery lifetime, possibly ten years operating on a single coin-cell. This also enables simple and scalable deployments with low-cost devices and thin infrastructures.

Those benefits come at a price: the layer 2 frame formats are optimized and specific to each individual technology. There is no network layer and the application is often hard wired to the layer 2 frame format, leading to siloed deployments that must be managed, secured and operated individually. Migrating from one LPWA technology to another implies rebuilding the whole chain.

There is a need to allow an integration of different LPWAN technologies in order to couple them with their related ecosystems. This will guarantee the inter-working by introducing a network layer, and enable common components for management and security, as well as shared application profiles. The IETF can contribute by providing IPv6 connectivity, and propose technologies to secure the operations and manage the devices and their gateways.

The Working Group will focus on enabling IPv6 connectivity over the following selection of Low-Power Wide-Area technologies: SIGFOX, LoRa, WI-SUN and NB-IOT. These technologies will be used as the baseline technologies for future work.

These technologies present similar characteristics of rare and widely unbalanced over-the-air transmissions, with little capability to alter the frame formats to accommodate this work, which makes it so that existing IETF work (6lo) cannot be trivially applied.

The Working Group will leverage cross-participation with the associated set of stakeholders, including users and SDOs working on the baseline technologies, to ensure that the work taking place corresponds to real demands and that the proposed solutions are indeed applicable.

The group has produced documents providing an overview of the baseline LPWA technologies (RFC8376) as well as a document specifying a Generic Framework for Static Context Header Compression and Fragmentation (SCHC), which provides both a header compression mechanism and an optional fragmentation mechanism (RFC8724). The group will continue to produce new standards track work to optimize IPv6-based communications to the end devices.

The group will:

  1. Perform SCHC Maintenance, including enabling SCHC mechanisms for Upper layer Protocols.

  2. Produce Standard Track documents to apply SCHC IPv6/UDP over the baseline technologies.

  3. Produce a Standards Track document to define the generic data models to formalize the compression and fragmentation contexts for LPWANs.

  4. Produce a Standards Track document to enable  operations, administration and maintenance (OAM) to the LPWAN device, including support for delayed or proxied liveness verification (Ping).