- 1 What is LoRa?
- 2 What is LoRaWAN?
- 3 Benefits of LoRaWAN
- 4 The most common applications of LoRaWAN
- 5 To sum up
As modern technology keeps on developing, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are gradually losing the pedestal of being the best communication technologies for IoT applications.
Low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) represent wireless telecommunication networks capable of transmitting small packets of data over long distances. LoRa is among the most prominent IoT communication technologies that run on the LoRaWAN network protocol.
The following information will help you gain a better understanding of LoRa and LoRaWAN and their IoT applications.
What is LoRa?
The term LoRa stands for a wireless modulation technique, which is derived from CSS (Chirp Spread Spectrum) technology. This technique relies on chirp pulses to encode radio wave information. Its transmission isn’t susceptible to disturbances, hence received across long distances. LoRa is considered the perfect choice for transmitting small pieces of information whose bit rates are low.
Moreover, the transmission of data occurs at longer ranges in comparison to other technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Check out ten ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal. Consequently, LoRa is a suitable choice for actuators and sensors, which operate in a low-power mode. It can be operated on sub-gigahertz bands requiring no license, such as 433 MHz, 868 MHz, and 915 MHz. Nevertheless, it can also operate on 2.4 gigahertz for achieving higher data rates.
The star-shaped architecture of the LoRaWAN network uses various regional ranges of frequencies, including the frequency band from 433.05 to 434.79 megahertz and the band from 863 to 870 megahertz in the continent of Europe. In contrast, North America approves the frequency band from 902 to 928 megahertz for transmission of data.
Additionally, the range offered by this network is nothing short of impressive. In areas where the population is sparse, a maximum of 55 kilometers is traversed between a transmitter and a receiver. In urban areas, the range is usually no more than several kilometers due to the presence of buildings. Anyhow, it can still reach underground sensors owing to good penetration.
What is LoRaWAN?
Although LoRa and LoRaWAN are often used interchangeably, these terms don’t have the same meaning. The latter is a MAC (Media Access Control) layer protocol on top of the physical layer. In other words, LoRaWAN is the network that LoRa devices use to operate. This software layer is responsible for defining the ways in which LoRa hardware is used, referring to the time of transmission and the message format.
Furthermore, this protocol receives support from the LoRa Alliance, referring to a non-profit and open member association. When looking for a dedicated LoRa IoT company, make sure the distributor understands the industry. This alliance has more than 500 members, and it keeps on growing. The members include base station suppliers, mobile network operators, system integrators, and sensor manufacturers.
There are three classes of LoRaWAN, class A, B, and C. Class A is basically an ALOHA system, meaning the end nodes aren’t supposed to wait to establish communication with a gateway for a given time. They broadcast whenever necessary and remain inactive till the next time their assistance is needed. When using class B, messages can be transmitted to nodes powered by a battery.
Additionally, the gateway sends a beacon out every 128 seconds. Beacon messages are emitted simultaneously, at every second. In contrast, class C allows nodes to send messages at any time. Since it requires plenty of energy to maintain nodes fully awake, it’s used for applications powered by AC.
Benefits of LoRaWAN
LoraWAN offers a long list of key benefits to users. It provides long-range communication between base stations and sensors. As a result, networks have two to three times fewer base stations in comparison with cellular networks. LoRaWAN end devices operate at low power and require a single battery for a ten-year period. The transmission and reception of data require a low current of less than 50 mA, which reduces power consumption dramatically.
Another advantage of the LoRaWAN protocol is indoor penetration, which enables these networks to provide deep coverage indoors, as well as reach sensors located underground. Bidirectional communication is yet another advantage, enabling a variety of uses, such as smart irrigation, energy optimization, street lighting, home automation, etc.
These networks are deployed on free ISM bands, which allows service providers to operate them without acquiring a license. LoRaWAN servers have a high capacity to handle innumerable messages from thousands of gateways. Secure communication is ensured between end devices and the server by using AES-128 encryption.
Users will find it convenient to deploy private and public networks by using the same hardware and software. As previously mentioned, the costs are low, given the minimal infrastructure, open-source software, and cheap end nodes.
The most common applications of LoRaWAN
This network is compatible with an extensive range of IoT applications, including smart cities, buildings, healthcare, logistics, public safety, space utilization, agriculture, etc. For instance, smart cities use wide-range Wi-Fi networks to allow connectivity between IoT sensors and devices. LoRaWAN has proven to be one of the most effective IoT solutions when it comes to smart cities.
Furthermore, smart cities can integrate IoT solutions into their infrastructure for the purpose of automating tasks, monitoring maintenance, and conducting predictive maintenance to minimize operational costs. Smart cities can integrate services like smart parking, street lighting, waste management, water level management, street cleaning, air quality control, etc. See this website, https://www.epa.gov/air-quality-management-process/managing-air-quality-control-strategies-achieve-air-pollution, for some control strategies for managing air quality.
In the logistics field, LoRaWAN-based IoT solutions assist logistics companies in tracking assets of high value in transit successfully. Smart buildings take advantage of IoT solutions like room occupancy, motion detection, smart water metering, temperature, and humidity monitoring.
Smart agriculture solutions help farmers visualize and analyze their crops, equipment, livestock, and environment. IoT sensors are able to collect data about important factors like sunlight exposure, which is later used for making better decisions regarding crop placement.
To sum up
Low-power wide-range networks are gradually increasing in popularity and becoming more preferred than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for large IoT applications.