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LoRA Vs LoRaWAN- Difference Between the Functions of these two Network Technology

This article mainly focuses on LoRa and LoRaWAN.  It provides an introduction to LoRa wireless technology and the LoRaWAN. Also, we will be highlighting the applications and the architecture of LoRa and LoRaWAN. We will also compare these two network technology.

What is LoRa?

LORA

LoRa which refers to Long Range is a radiofrequency signal in the PHY layer of the telecommunication device. This radiofrequency signal is owned by Semtech, a California-based company Semtech. Also, the LoRa modem helps in converting data into this radiofrequency signal.

The LoRa signal varies based on the message it carries. Also, the whole channel bandwidth is usually integrated for broadcasting. Therefore, this enables the signal to be more robust to frequency offsets. There are other types of radiofrequency signals available like WiFi and Bluetooth. However, LoRa helps to enhance receiver sensitivity.

 Also, it has a more efficient communication range used for data transmission, which covers nearly 20km in good conditions. Therefore, this makes LoRa suitable for use in providing networking solutions across rural areas.

LoRa is a wireless technology that has the capability to transfer very small amount of data over wide distances. Also, LoRa is well known to be one of the building blocks of LPWA network technologies that help foster the integration of Massive IoT, since they are specially designed for battery operated  and very low power devices within an IoT ecosystem. For instance, in agriculture where soil sensors help in detecting the moisture and PH of soil.

What is LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN is a technology helps in connecting the signal to the application according to the data transmission layer of telecommunication device. Also, LoRaWAN stands for Long Range Wide Area Network. LoRaWAN helps in regulating the architecture and protocol. Therefore, this determines the security of transferred data,  battery life of nodes, the capacity of network, and the service quality. When LoRaWAN is well combined with LoRa radiofrequency signals, you can provide bi-directional and long range telecom solutions for different situations.

All of these benefits combined with the capability to minimize the required number of Gateway devices make LoRaWAN more popular for IoT networks in Smart Cities. Compared to other methods of communications such as WLAN and mobile networks, LoRaWAN offers a lot of benefits.

The key of advantages of LoRaWAN are that it offers low power and low cost connectivity for devices that need no high data transmission rates. Also, it is ideal for use when cellular is too costly or the Wi-Fi coverage isn’t readily available. LoRaWAN is simply optimized for low cost sensors. Also, the LoRaWAN protocol offers a complete two way communication that ensures security and reliability of the whole system.

Why it is Crucial to know the Difference Between LoRa and LoRaWAN

You will realize that LoRa and LoRaWAN radiofrequency technologies are usually available telecommunication solutions. However, it is very important to know the differences between these two technologies. This helps in understanding how each of these technologies function in your situation and as well know the technology that meets your requirement.

Difference Between LoRa and LoRaWAN

LoRa and LoraWAN fall under the category of non-cellular LPWAN wireless communication network, which operate in unlicensed spectrum. Also, LoRa is a radio modulation technology. LoRaWAN is simply a protocol or network that integrates LoRa.

LoRa is simply a wireless radiofrequency technology, which belongs to Semtech. Semtech is also behind the LoRa Alliance. The LoRa Alliance which was founded in 2015 has hundreds of members.

LoRa and LoRAWAN have become the most popular non-cellular LPWA solutions and ecosystems. Since cellular LPWA options like LTE-M were not available for the types of IoT projects and the applications for LPWAN and cellular standards were very costly and unsuitable for those specific IoT applications, the LoRa Alliance are more efficient than the latest cellular standards.

LoRaWAN connects the LoRa signal to the application(s). Therefore, one can simply say, LoRa is the radio signal that transmits the data. LoRaWAN is the protocol which regulates and specifies how to communicate data across the network.

LoRa is a signal and comprises only the physical layer protocol. LoRaWAN connects the signal to the applications. Therefore, it contains data transmission layer, which allows you to transfer the data to any connected device. LoRa is cheaper than LoRaWAN.

In summary:

LoRa is simply the physical layer, this is why it offers long-range communication. On the other hand, LoRaWAN is the communication protocol for the network.

 LoRa is a wireless modulation that enables a low power radio communication. LoRaWAN is a network protocol that integrates LoRa chips for communication. Without LoRaWAN, you can simply use LoRa modulation in networks. Also, without the LoRa radio signal, LoRaWAN can function as a network. However, this isn’t practical.

 LoRa is Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS) modulation.  It offers various data rates while integrating several spreading factors. The wide coverage range of LoRaWAN, makes this wireless network ideal for Wide Area Network (WAN).

Features of LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN has a wide range of features which include:

 Ultra low power

The optimized end devices LoRaWAN can function in low power mode and their life span is up to 10 years when they are on a coin cell battery.

Public and private deployments

You can easily deploy any LoRaWAN networks (both private and public) that integrate similar hardware and software The hardware includes antennas, end devices, and gateways. The hardware includes Basic Station software, UDP packet forwarders, and LoRaWAN stacks.

 License free spectrum

Some networks require you to pay costly frequency spectrum license fees for deployment. However, LoRaWAN is different. One of the great features of LoRaWAN is that there is no need for expensive frequency spectrum license fees.

Long range

LoRaWAN gateways can easily transfer and receive signals over a wide distance. In rural areas it can receive and send signals over 10 kilometers. For dense urban areas, it is about 3 kilometers.

High capacity

LoRaWAN Network Servers is capable of dealing with millions of messages from several gateways.

Deep indoor penetration

Through LoRaWAN networks, there is provision for deep indoor coverage. Also, it covers multi floor buildings easily.

Geolocation

With LoRaWAN, it is easy to determine where end devices are by using triangulation. You don’t need a GPS to achieve this.  Also, you can locate a LoRa end device if it is at least three gateways away.

Other Features of LoRaWAN

Low cost

LoRaWAN offers low infrastructure and open source software.

Certification program- This certification program ensures the certification of end devices and assures end-users that the devices are reliable. Also, the certification assures you that the devices comply with the specifications of LoRaWAN.

End-to-end security

LoRaWAN helps in securing interaction that occurs between the application server and the end device. It uses the AES-128 encryption to achieve this.

 Firmware updates over the air

 It is easy to update firmware for a single end device or various end devices remotely.

 Roaming

You can effortlessly carry out handovers within networks with the LoRaWAN end devices.

Ecosystem

LoRaWAN comes with a large ecosystem of antenna makers, device makers, network service providers, and gateway makers.

Typical Architecture of LoRaWAN

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The typical architecture of LoRaWAN comprises major elements such as End nodes, Gateways, Network server, and Application server.

 End Node

Measurement and control are the primary functions of end node. Also, the end node comprises a sequence of measurement sensors and control elements .

Gateway LoRa

This element receives data from end devices through a radio channel and then transfers the data to a transit network. Also, a star network topology is created by the gateway and its end devices. The gateway LoRa is simply a design that comprises several channels that receives and sends devices that enable the processing of signals that arrive on several signals or channels.

 Ethernet, WiFi, and other telecommunication channels are examples of such networks.

Network Server

This is a centre that initiates network management. The network server helps in setting a schedule. helps Also, it helps in controlling speeds, making analysis, carrying out processing and storage of received data.

Application Server

This is a device used in data collection from end nodes and remote monitoring of their work.

Use Cases of LoRaWAN

There are several use cases of LoRaWAN and some of them include:
Agriculture

LoRaWAN plays a significant role in agriculture. Due to its long range, it offers reliability in rural applications. It is ideal for devices that have low data transmission rates.

 Industrial

Through the digitization of equipment and legacy processes, industrial IoT is simply operations. Therefore, LoRaWAN helps in driving profits, maximizing efficiencies, and lowering  costs. Also, LoRa-enabled devices usually consume real-time data to offer key information into efficiency, machine health, predictive maintenance, and reduced downtime, among others.

 Assets and logistics

LoRaWan is a great option for assets and logistics. This is because it features network-based location and tracking capabilities. Also, this goes for a low cost.

Smart home

One of the most visible applications of LoRaWAN is its use in smart homes. This RF technology can pass through obstruction like walls. Also, it can support battery powered applications ideal for use in smart homes. Therefore, this makes this connectivity a more appealing option.

 Smart metering

LoRaWAN  can get to sensors monitoring utilities buried underground. Therefore, this  makes this an ideal form of connectivity for smart metering. In smart metering, a high level of connectivity is crucial.

Healthcare

 The low power and reliable performance make LoRaWAN an ideal option for connected health applications. Also, IoT solutions which feature LoRa-based hardware help in keeping track of the progress of high-risk patients every time. Therefore, this ensures there is good management of health and medical system.

Where is LoRaWAN Applicable in the IoT Connectivity Space?

Several telecom providers use LoRa . It is like a 3G networks that is specifically built for communications between several IoT devices. Also, LoRa has some data collection systems, in which data transfers need to occur now and then.

Sigfox is another provider of LPWAN systems. This is an ultra-narrowband-based technology. It has already gained popularity in the US.  Furthermore, cellular options like NB-IoT and LTE-MTC or LTE-M are highly ranked and rated in the LPWAN category.

With LoRa and LoRaWAN, the major players seek to provide an offering for companies that want to quickly deploy IoT applications in some areas. In these areas, there are long distances, but there is need for low capacity. For example, in a smart city.

Due to the low frequency and LoRa’s specifications as earlier mentioned,  it is a great option for connected devices that have small batteries. Also, its low power made it ideal for battery-powered connected devices.

The LoRaWAN protocol offers a complete two way communication that ensures security and reliability of the whole system. Also, this protocol is widely used in national networks of telecommunication operators. Therefore, LoRa Alliance ensures the standardization of the LoRaWAN protocol.  Also, the LoRaWAN architecture helps in discovering mobile assets.

What Does The LoRa Alliance Offer?

The LoRa Alliance is an open membership organization whose founding companies comprise telecom operators and technology suppliers. Technology suppliers such as Cisco, MultiTech, IBM, MultiTech, and Microchip among others contributed to the foundation of LoRa Alliance.

Over time, LoRa Alliance is one of the biggest alliances in the technology sector and it has continued to grow. This organization focuses on standardizing low power wide area networks and the improvement of the LoRaWAN. Achieving great application of IoT via the global integration of LoRaWAN technology is the mission of LoRa Alliance. Also, LoRa Alliance aims at empowering sustainable Internet of Things to optimize efficiency, enhance quality of life and as well safeguard the resources of the planet.

LoRa Alliance consists of over 500 members. This goal of this non-profit association involves connecting half of the predicted IoT volumes. Presently, LoRa Alliance has 163 network operators.

LoRa and LoRaWAN- A part of LPWAN ecosystem

There are several Internet of Things (IoT) projects which integrate LoRaWAN  and LoRa. Other networks had been already tested and integrated before the verification of the three cellular LPWA standards. Some companies and even the big ones, have been deploying more IoT applications with LoRaWAN, LoRa,  and the likes.

We need to understand that only a few years ago did the LPWA market begin to gain more attention from big companies and analysts. There are several reasons behind this, but we will be mentioning a few.

The integration of LPWAN is beginning to grow at a fast pace if cellular LPWA is carefully added, even in industrial IoT connectivity

Over time, there has been a lot of controversies as regards LPWAN.  Now, there is now more controversy, on the cellular level. Although, some cellular standards are not commonly used at scale and the journey to 5G IoT is a long way ahead in spite of all the controversies.

 Operators are already deciding on what to do as a 2G network sunset begins to come up gradually, yet only since early 2017. This is definitely far from everywhere in a longer future. There is a higher chance that several countries will switch off 3G networks first.

 Also, the LPWA market is really growing fast even if it’s only a limited aspect of the IoT connectivity market. A good number of operators decided to go for a combination of non-cellular and cellular. For example, LoRAWAN and LTE-M are a great combination for Orange. Also, Orange is not the only operator to go for such combination.

 According to LoRa Alliance, LoRa and cellular LPWA are complements and more operators provide both LoRaWAN and LTE-M.

Why LoRaWAN has Become the Suitable LPWA Standard

There are some differences between LoRaWAN and other LPWA technologies. LPWA technologies offer more set of applications. Also, LPWA technologies allow you to address several applications from a bi-directional connectivity and adaptive rate of data rate. However, the ecosystem is the main differentiator is the ecosystem. If you take a look at the successful integration of technology for the past one decade, you will realize all have followed this model.

The only method to specify volume and deployments is by having several business models, competition, and a vast ecosystem. Another way to receive wide deployment and acceptance is through open standard. However, the various network components such as cloud network,  gateways, chips, and end devices, from various suppliers provides a low risk for  possible end users or operators.

Furthermore, LoRaWAN safeguards data and privacy more than other LPWA. Therefore, it is usually considered the most secure and efficient solution in the market. Furthermore, it has 128AES encryption on various levels for all data. LoRAWAN have become the most popular non-cellular LPWA solutions and ecosystems. Since cellular LPWA options like LTE-M were not available for the types of IoT projects and the applications for LPWAN and cellular standards were very costly and unsuitable for those specific IoT applications, the LoRa Alliance are more efficient than the latest cellular standards.

LoRaWAN connects the LoRa signal to the application(s). Therefore, one can simply say, LoRa is the radio signal that transmits the data. LoRaWAN is the protocol which regulates and specifies how to communicate data across the network

Types of IoT applications LoRa(WAN) Enables

LoRaWAN is ideal for use in several IoT applications. These applications include smart parking, smart metering, traffic, and smart waste management. Also, it is ideal for use in applications that monitor connected devices from a longer distance.

Smart Cities

LoRa’s low power, efficient security, GPS-free geolocation, and long range features make it enhance the efficiency of municipal operations. By simply connecting city services like waste removal, parking, and  lighting, cities can find it easy to maximize the use of utilities and personnel. In the long run, this helps to save time and money.

Smart Gas metering

Meters need to function for longer hours and as well transfer data frequently in a gas utility application. The integration of smart metering technology for gas leak detectors, smart valves, and gas pressure on a similar network is indeed a clear response for gas utilities to improve safety and enhance efficiency.  LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol provide efficient solutions for gas utilities.

Smart Healthcare

Due to the reliable performance , long range, and low cost, LoRa is a suitable option for crucial smart healthcare applications. Also, there are IoT solutions which comprise LoRa sensors and gateways. These  help in monitoring high-risk patients 24/7.Therefore, this ensures there is health safety in the medical industry.

Smart Industrial Control

Some industrial operations benefit from the integration of IoT-connected sensors. This helps in achieving various always-on monitoring functions. LoRa-based devices feature long range, low power, reliable performance, and long battery life. Therefore, sensors in mobile industries or manufacturing plants can supply crucial data to a LoRaWAN where such data can be easily analyzed. Also, this helps in optimizing businesses operations.

What is LoRa Real Range?

Various articles have discussed LoRa distance. Most times, the authors of these articles describe the setting of new world records. Presently, the distance of LoRa is as high as 832 km! However, the question is how are these distances applicable in real-world applications? Does this imply there are hundreds of kilometers in the actual working ranges of LoRa technology? Well, we will discuss provide more answers in these section.

Theory of wireless communication

To have a better understanding on the real range of LoRa, one must understand the functions of range in wireless transmission. Therefore, we must understand the three primary properties of radio networks.  These properties include:

Range

Data transmission rate

 Energy consumption

Each technology requires a balance between these properties. For instance, Bluetooth and WiFi help in achieving high rates of transmission rates at the expense of short range and high energy consumption). However, LoRa technology is different as it involves a low rate of data transmission, which enables transmission over long distances with very low rate of energy consumption.

Conclusion

LoRa and LoRAWAN have become the most popular non-cellular LPWA solutions and ecosystems. Since cellular LPWA options like LTE-M were not available for the types of IoT projects and the applications for LPWAN and cellular standards were very costly and unsuitable for those specific IoT applications, the LoRa Alliance are more efficient than the latest cellular standards.