The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of millions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet and which measure, monitor, and provide rich data. Today IoT consists of many loosely connected networks, each of which solves its own problems. For example, in an office building, several LoRaWAN based IoT solutions could be deployed at once: one to control air conditioners, another for heating systems, lighting, security, and other IoT applications.
These IoT networks can operate according to different standards and combining them into one network is not a trivial task. Low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) technologies are capable of supporting a large number of Internet of Things use cases. While several LPWAN technologies exist, Long Range (LoRa technology), and its network architecture LoRaWAN, is currently the most adopted technology. LoRa provides a range of physical layer communication settings, such as bandwidth, spreading factor, coding rate, and transmission frequency. These settings impact throughput, reliability, and communication range.
What Is The Difference Between LoRa And LoRaWAN® Networks?
- LPWAN (Low-power Wide-area Network) is a wireless wide area network technology that interconnects low-bandwidth, battery-powered IoT devices with low bit rates over long ranges. There are several options for building LPWAN network, but LoRaWAN and NB-IoT technologies have shown the greatest dynamics and will receive the largest LPWA market share in the coming years.
- LoRaWAN defines the communication protocol and system architecture for the network while the LoRa physical layer enables the long-range communication link. The protocol and network architecture have the most influence on the battery lifetime, the network capacity, the quality of service, the security, and the variety of applications served by the network.
- LoRa is a radio signal transmission protocol that employs a chirped, multi-symbol format to convey data. In essence, these chips are conventional ISM band radio chips that can convert radio frequency to bits using LoRa (or other modulation types like FSK) without writing code. Outside of wide-area communications, LoRa technology is a lower-level physical layer technology employed in various applications.
The LoRaWAN protocol is based on the LoRa radio modulation method and is a low-power wide-area networking protocol. It manages communication between end-node IoT devices and network gateways and connects devices to the internet via wireless connections. LoRaWAN is a point-to-multipoint networking protocol. It’s not just about the radio waves; it’s about how they interact with LoRaWAN gateways to provide functions like encryption and identification.
How Does LoRaWAN Work?
At their most fundamental level, radio technologies like LoRaWAN are simple. The best analogy for the LoRaWAN network is a cellular network. LoRa-based devices have a module that connects with a gateway, which is a local central location. Consider how your phone sends and receives data via a cell tower. The gateway acts as a conduit between the devices and the server. The network server uses the internet to communicate with the gateway and instructs it to interact with the IoT devices. In other words, the network server is responsible for deleting duplicate data packets, confirming data integrity, and executing security checks. Furthermore, nodes in the star architecture do not need to listen for messages from other nodes all of the time. Therefore, they may “sleep” for the majority of the time, lowering their energy usage.
Advantages Of A LoRaWAN Network
Below are some advantages of this new age developing IoT technology with multiple benefits:
- Long Range and Coverage: Its range, which may reach up to 15 kilometers in LOS, is unrivaled by any other communication protocol.
- Low Power: LoRa technology delivers ultra-low power radios, making it ideal for devices that need to survive ten years or more on a single charge.
- Low-cost hardware: LoRaWAN infrastructure is highly low-cost compared other networks, and end-device radios are also low-cost. Furthermore, various open-source versions of infrastructures such as gateways are being created, further lowering expenses.
- High Capacity: A single LoRa gateway might link thousands of endpoint IoT devices.
Class A is a simple ALOHA system since it is entirely asynchronous; this implies that the end nodes don’t have to wait to communicate with the gateway for a specific time. Instead, they broadcast whenever they need to and then go inactive until the next time they’re needed. You could fill every time slot with a message if you had an eight-channel system so that it is flawlessly synchronized.
Messages may be transmitted down to battery-powered nodes using Class B. Every 128 seconds, the gateway sends out a beacon. Because all LoRaWAN base stations are slaves to a single pulse-per-second clock, they all emit beacon messages simultaneously (1PPS); this implies that at the start of every second. Every GPS satellite in orbit delivers a message, allowing time to be synced throughout the world.
Class C permits nodes to listen and send downlink messages at any time continuously. Because it requires a lot of energy to maintain a node fully awake and operate the receiver at all times, typically, this is employed for AC-powered applications.
What Are The Most Common Applications Of LoRaWAN?
A LoRaWAN network is compatible with a wide range of IoT applications and has been successfully used in the following Use Cases:
Smart cities require real-time visibility into all aspects of urban life. To achieve this, smart cities typically utilize wide-area wireless networks to enable connectivity between a vast network of disparate data-generating IoT devices, sensors, and smart meters. LoRaWAN wireless technology is the best IoT solution for the application in the scope of smart cities. Using IoT technologies with a variety of Smart devices to visualize and analyze comprehensive real-time data, cities can respond dynamically by optimizing asset utilization and allocation of city resources. Cities can integrate IoT into their infrastructure to automate tasks, monitor and manage equipment, and perform predictive maintenance to reduce operational costs. Cities all over the world could optimize the usage of utilities and staff by integrating city services such as:
- Street Lighting
- Smart Parking
- Waste management
- Water level and flood management
- Smart Public Transit
- Air Quality Control
- Street Cleaning
Logistics / Transportation Management
Thanks to LoRaWAN based IoT solutions, supply chain and logistics companies successfully track high-value assets, including those in transit. Vehicles, goods, and other support are conveniently tracked over broad geographic regions and in severe circumstances because of the technology’s remarkable range, low power consumption, and GPS-free localization. Fleet monitoring IoT solutions that use LoRaWAN connection can save money by allowing fleets to stay on the road for longer, improve fuel economy, increase safety, offer visibility into maintenance concerns, and improve overall operational efficiency.
With minimum infrastructure and maintenance expenditure, homeowners and property/facility managers may enhance efficiency and minimize expenses by deploying LoRa-based intelligent IoT building solutions:
- Temperature and Humidity Monitoring
- Room Occupancy
- Motion Detection
- Smart Water Metering
- Fire, flood, CO/CO2 level Monitoring
Low power, low cost, and consistent performance make LoRaWAN networks ideal for essential intelligent healthcare applications. LoRaWAN based IoT solutions can continuously monitor high-risk patients or systems, guaranteeing that health and medical safety are never compromised.
LoRaWAN based IoT solution can be designed to continuously and reliably monitor the most important vital signs of hospital patients, seniors care residents, high-performing athletes, or anyone else who requires real-time, always-on insights into their respiratory health. IoT LoRaWAN smart health solutions could help:
- Hospital Patients
- Seniors Care Residents
- High Performing Athletes
The need for all-encompassing safety and security solutions is increasing. IoT network-based public safety solutions give first responders cutting-edge technology that may reduce danger and improve individual safety. Personal wearable IoT gadgets, such as ID badges, are fitted with LoRaWAN technology, including a panic button that sends an instant SOS with the user’s location information.
The corporate workforce has grown more mobile and has quickly adopted an “anytime, anyplace” work ethic. As a result of the unpredictable flow of employees and guests, office space may be unused for lengthy periods or be overbooked. For firms, properly using and arranging available space has become a logistical headache.
It is possible to record and publish environmental indicators for data analysis in real-time by deploying a network of devices and gateways equipped with LoRaWAN networks over an area. They are identifying concerns before they become disasters. LoRaWAN based IoT solutions for the environment help safeguard populations from environmental threats, from air quality monitoring to radiation leak detection.
The concept of using LoRaWAN based IoT solutions for smart agriculture practices is taking flight as farmers now can easily visualize, analyze and make more informed decisions regarding their crops, livestock, equipment, infrastructure, environment, and all other components they are required to continuously monitor and manage for increased yields and improved efficiencies. IoT agriculture sensors have a compact size and determine many parameters that give an understanding of the environmental aspects. IoT sensors can be deployed to collect data about sunlight exposure, which can be used to make better decisions about crop placement and help determine if solar integration is a viable option for the farm.
The LoRaWAN Network Architecture
Rather than having each end-device in an almost constantly on state, the end-devices in the LoRaWAN network interact directly with gateways and are only “on” when they need to communicate with the gateway since the content is not a concern. A LoRa radio has a few characteristics that enable it to attain adequate long-range power and low cost. Some of these characteristics include:
LoRa radios employ spectrum modulation technology to produce a significantly increased communication range while preserving low power characteristics comparable to FSK modulation physical layer radios. While used widely in military and space communications for quite some time, LoRa is the first low-cost commercial implementation of the method.
While LoRa technology is frequency-agnostic, LoRa radios communicate via unlicensed sub-GHz radio frequency bands that are widely accessible throughout the world. These frequencies fluctuate from area to region and, in many cases, from country to country.
Adaptive Data Rate
LoRa employs a mix of variable bandwidth and spreading factors (SF7-SF12) to change the data rate, which is a trade-off with the transmission range. Higher spreading factor provides a more extended coverage at the price of lower data rate and vice versa. The bandwidth and spreading factor combination are set based on the network conditions and the amount of data sent.
Adaptive Power Level
LoRa radios have an adaptable power level. Elements such as data rate and network quality influence LoRa radios, among others. When a quick transmission is necessary, the transmitted power increases, and vice versa. As a result, battery life is extended and preserves network capacity. Various factors, including the device’s class, influence power consumption.
LoRa Alliance Support to LoRaWAN
Our global, national, and regional networks will have to support billions or even trillions of Smart IoT devices all over the world in the future. LoRaWAN based IoT solutions and the LoRaWAN technology would play a very important role in delivering an innovative, low-cost, and highly efficient network for future applications. There is a Lora Alliance association that unites more than 400 companies globally to contribute, improve and implement an intelligent LoRaWAN network for future needs.
The LoRa Alliance is an open, non-profit association of members that believes the Internet of Things era is now. The LoRa Alliance was initiated by industry leaders with a mission to standardize Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) being deployed around the world to enable Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M), and smart city, and industrial applications.