Can Matter bring Interoperability to Smart Buildings?

Subscribe To Download This Insight

2Q 2023 | IN-6915

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), the industry body charged with developing and expanding the Matter smart home specification, sees potential for the specification in commercial buildings. As Wirepas, a company focused on massive Internet of Things (IoT) networks, including smart metering and network lighting control in the commercial building space, joins the CSA, what momentum and potential is there for Matter outside of residential deployments?

Registered users can unlock up to five pieces of premium content each month.

Log in or register to unlock this Insight.


Commercial Building Network Lighting Control and Matter


In March, Network Lighting Control (NLC) software player Wirepas joined the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), the industry body charged with developing and expanding the Matter smart home specification. Unlike the more than 500 companies already within the CSA and engaged in developing Matter, Finnish startup Wirepas has no interest in the residential market. Instead it is focused on the potential for massive Internet of Things (IoT) networks, including smart metering and, increasingly, NLC in the commercial building space. Is the company right to look to Matter?

The Draw of Commercial Building NLC


Tampere, Finland-based Wirepas grew from a mesh networking university project and within 5 years, its mesh networking layer was initially used in a smart metering deployment by Aidon, a Nordic supplier of smart grid and smart metering technology, to support a 920,000 smart meter single network in Oslo, Norway. Since then, the company has applied its technology to other cases and markets, with NLC a key example.

Wirepas’ interest in NLC is part of a wave of investment in the technology. Faced with a wave of economic challenges, commercial building owners and operators are having to rethink how their buildings will better manage energy use and meet changing tenant demands. NLC promises ways not just to improve energy, but also delivers an IoT backbone capable of supporting a range of additional applications, such as enterprise management or asset tracking. Key to the Wirepas Mesh proposition is its system to support high-density deployments, with the company saying it can support ultra-high density of 1,000 devices in 1 cubic meter.

A host of startups, such as Wirepas, and existing commercial building system and lighting players are looking to deliver NLC to a growing market, however, for many vendors, the distinct separation between commercial and residential buildings remains. The demands of the two markets have long been distinct—from the technologies and devices deployed, to scale and pricing, and to ecosystems and vendor engagement. Even so, areas of limited overlap are growing, as commercial buildings—especially those engaged with consumers directly like apartment buildings and hospitality—have begun to embrace aspects of smart home connectivity and networked management control. Most crucially, until Matter, neither smart home, nor smart building offerings offered broad application layer integration, limiting the market opportunity by forcing vendors and customers alike to choose from distinct vendor ecosystem plays.

Can Matter Push into NCL and Smart Buildings


Matter’s proponents are increasingly interested in smart building industry adoption, promising that the appeal of greater market scale and applicability for vendor products in the market will help draw the industry to it. Matter could bring vendors new opportunities to combine new and existing control offerings for a far larger user base and commercial building players with business that spans both the residential and commercial markets, and that have been active in the Matter specification development, such as Legrand or Schneider Electric, which may provide some impetus for cross-market developments.

However, Matter currently specifies Wi-Fi and Thread wireless connectivity, as well as Bluetooth for provisioning. However, among NLC players and smart building vendors overall, there is demand or support for Thread-based offerings, so in the short-term, the potential for Matter adoption appears minimal.

But Wirepas’ Matter efforts lie outside of the existing protocol specifications. Key to the Wirepas offering is that its mesh offering can operate over several wireless frequencies. These include 2.4 Gigahertz (GHz), leveraging Bluetooth Mesh silicon, 865 Megahertz (MHz) and 915 MHz, and most importantly, 1.9 Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT). The company was a key proponent and contributor to the development of 5G DECT NR+ at both the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and ETSI and sees strong potential in bringing smart building communications to move mesh networks out of the congested 2.4 GHz band and into 1.9 GHz. Subsequently, Wirepas is pushing the non-cellular 5G DECT NR+ standard to the CSA and its ongoing Matter development.

ABI Research’s recent NCL lighting study finds that the market for wireless connected lighting equipment will grow 10X by 2030. As those NCL deployments increasingly support additional applications, such as asset tracking and space management, the potential for high-density capabilities will also grow significantly. That market would also benefit significantly from removing the barriers to adoption that vertically integrated vendor offerings typically establish and the kind of third-party interoperability that a specification like Matter could enable.

Wirepas’ entry into the CSA will not drive Matter adoption in smart buildings or even drive use of 1.9 GHz in mesh networking alone, but it is another indication that the IoT is continuing to push into smart buildings, which will bring growing challenges and changes to the demands made on vendors and their offerings throughout the space.



Companies Mentioned