On top of the LoRa (long range radio) radio modulation technology, LoRaWAN is a wide-area wireless network protocol with low power consumption. LoRaWAN standards can be used in a wide range of markets, including smart cities, homes and buildings, agriculture, healthcare, the environment, and supply chain and logistics.
Let's take a look at one of the most famous protocols; LoRaWAN. LoRaWAN, or Long Range Wide Area Network, is a new wireless technology that can be applied to various applications such as battery-based sensors, IoT gateways, smart city infrastructure, etc. Due to its wide range, long-distance data transmission capabilities, and high-speed connectivity, this protocol has emerged as one of the most popular IoT protocols. IoT solutions based on LoRaWAN are designed to be low-cost and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Additionally, it supports a variety of application requirements, including battery-powered sensors, gateways, and smart city infrastructure.
What is LoRaWAN?
Image Credit: Lora Alliance
LoRaWAN is a MAC Layer ( Media Access Control ) Protocol. It is a software layer that has a set of instructions for how the devices will use the LoRa Hardware. The LoRaWAN protocol is developed by LoRa Alliance, an open, non-profit association.
LoRaWAN stands for Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol. LoRa Alliance designed it for a very specific and important purpose - to wirelessly connect IoT devices to the internet in various networks across the global networks. The first LoRaWAN specification module was introduced in January 2015.
The current version is LoRaWAN TS1-1.0.4, which simplifies LoRaWAN development, deployment, management, and interoperability. LoRaWAN technology protocol is supported by major companies such as Cisco, IBM, and 500 other member companies of the LoRa Alliance.
Importance of LoRaWAN:
Image Credit: LoRa Alliance
With LoRaWAN, you will be able to communicate over a range of several kilometers in the open air with low-latency, long-range communication. LoRaWAN has many other features such as operating on ultra-low-power, deep indoor penetration, etc. It is a license-free spectrum; that can be deployed publicly and privately.
Specific Device Modules
In LoRaWAN there are three classes, each of which is designed for a specific device module:
Class A – Lowest power, bi-directional end-devices: In this LoRaWAN class, uplink transmissions from the battery-operated device are followed by two short downlinks that receive windows.
Class B – Bi-directional end-devices with deterministic downlink latency: As the name suggests, it passes synchronous signals, which allows extra receive windows at scheduled times.
Class C – Lowest latency, bi-directional end-devices: This class is particularly for always-on devices.
Security is a major concern for high-volume IoT deployments. The LoRaWAN specification defines two layers of encryption. A 128-bit Network Session Key for end-to-end encryption, and a 128-bit Application Session Key (AppSKey) for application-level security. It provides end-to-end security, and updates over the air.
LoRaWAN use cases across multiple industries
1. Natural Disaster Prevention
It is very uncertain to have a good power source or internet in a natural disaster situation. LoRa hardware or the sensors can be planted in disaster-prone areas, far from regular electrical and internet resources.
Now the device connected to LoRa is divided into two parts. One is programed as a gateway and the other as a node. Since it requires many, one can add gateways and nodes to it. LoRa node is connected to Raspberry Pi(RPi). Not only is that connected to the sensor, but it is also capable of data processing.
2. Smart Agriculture & Animal Production Monitoring
Image Credit: LoRa Alliance
LoRaWAN is helping farmers grow by taking care of IoT devices connected to animals such as cattle and pigs. Farmers can get information about animals such as health data, heat structure, pregnancy, and so on. Farmer can track the farm easily using apps on mobile.
3. Endangered Species Protection
Worldwide, most National Parks lack basic connectivity due to climatic conditions or geographic location ( basic 3G or 4G Internet coverage ). This poses a challenge for device connectivity over a wide area. Now using LoRaWAN it will be very easy to connect them with low-power battery sensors. The sensors can be placed throughout the park, along with gates, fences, and tree houses to watch and protect endangered species and people inside the sanctuary.
4. Smart Industry Control
LoRa-based devices and sensors in the manufacturing plant or mobile industry can route critical data to LoRaWAN networks to optimize business operation, thanks to the long-range, low power consumption, and long battery life.
5. Smart Cities, Homes, Buildings & Offices
The low-power characteristics of LoRa technology and its ability to penetrate dense building materials make it an ideal platform for IoT-connected smart homes and building devices. Sensors in smart homes and building applications can detect hazards and improve the safety and comfort of everyday life.
6. Supply Chain Logistics, Asset Tracking & Quality Management
The long-range, low-power capabilities of LoRaWAN technology are widely used in logistics and supply chain surveillance to track assets.
So is LoRaWAN the future? Yes, it shares quite a long property with 5G. It will help to deploy 5G in the form of hybrid networks, which have diverse use cases. ABI analysis estimates that, by 2026, LoRa will be the leading non-cellular LPWA network technology and can account for over half of all non-cellular LPWA connections. So, yes a bright future ahead for LoRaWAN.