We live in an age where IoT is a growing phenomenon, and therefore we often come across terms like LoRa and LoRaWAN. Most people use these terms interchangeably as they seem alike. However, this is not perfectly true as they have some differences. In this article, we will take a look at the pertaining differences between LoRa and LoRaWAN. We will also look at some of their prospective applications, and prominent benefits.
Before understanding the key differences, we will have to develop a keen understanding of some essential terminologies.
IoT Devices and PHY
A telecommunication device operates in layers when we integrate it into an IoT network. The PHY or commonly known as the physical layer is responsible for determining the parameters for data transfer operations. Then it establishes a connection to the data link layer which is also commonly known as the data link layer. Hence, this data transfer layer establishes the protocols for transmitting the required data to the nearby nodes.
A Contrast among LoRa and LoRaWAN
1. LoRa is a signal which operates on radio frequency
LoRa is a long-range signal which is based on radio frequency. It is embedded in any IoT device’s PHY layer. LoRa is developed and owned by Semtech which is a company based in California. You can use a LoRa modem for converting any data set into this radio frequency signal.
We can create variations in the LoRa signal as per the messages or data sets it is carrying. For this purpose, we use CSS (Chirp Spread Spectrum) which is a modulation technique. LoRa is effective at harnessing the full channel bandwidth during data transmission. Therefore, it is more immune to noise and fluctuations.
There are many popular radio frequency signals available today. For example, Wi-Fi, BLE, Bluetooth, etc. However, LoRa is famous for its superior communication range, enhanced receiver sensitivity, and large data transmitting capabilities. Hence, LoRa is ideal for implementing robust IoT applications over wide areas.
2. LoRaWAN connects the IoT application with the signal
LoRaWAN is embedded in any device’s data transfer layer. It allows LoRa signal to link with the IoT application we want. LoRaWAN helps us control the network architecture and data transmitting protocols. Hence, we are better able to determine the service quality, remaining battery span of the connected nodes, capabilities and capacity of the network, and possible security vulnerabilities and the type of applications that are under usage.
LoRaWAN complements the radio frequency signals of LoRa. Therefore, we are able to create economical, bi-directional, low powered, long-range, IoT solutions that we can deploy in scenarios involving wide ranges. LoRaWAN requires fewer gateways for establishing any network. This is a prominent reason why LoRaWAN is gaining popularity for deployments in applications like Smart cities etc.
LoRa and LoRaWAN, the forerunners of the upcoming LPWAN ecosystem
With the growing trend of IoT, we are seeing more and more LPWAN deployments. Many tech giants and IoT companies are relying heavily on LPWAN for various applications. And it is interesting to see that more and more companies are deploying LoRa and LoRaWAN based use cases.
MOKOSmart and tech experts believe that LoRa and LoRaWAN will keep gaining popularity. There are many reasons for this rapid growth and we will take a look at some of them.
- The industrial sector is switching towards smart and automated solutions. Therefore, a surge in dependence on IoT connectivity is frequently observed.
- With growing safety concerns, more and more people are looking for reliable alternatives. So, they turn towards LoRa and LoRaWAN because they promise improved security with the strongest possible encryption standards.
- LoRa and LoRaWAN operate on free bandwidths. Therefore, they are more accessible. Hence, more people prefer to adopt them instead of conventional and expensive alternatives.
- LoRa and LoRaWAN are becoming the de facto standard for large scale and wide area IoT deployments. This growing community ensures an ecosystem of innovation that encourages everyone to switch to a more trustworthy solution.
Groundbreaking Benefits of LoRa and LoRaWAN
There are many groundbreaking benefits of LoRa and LoRaWAN. However, here we will take a look at only a few of them.
- Long range capabilities make it possible to implement innovative solutions like smart city applications.
- They require low power hence it ensures that the connected IoT devices will have longer battery life.
- Their low bandwidth makes it perfect for IoT deployments which are practical. This is because such deployments require fewer data transmissions or the data transfer isn’t constant. For instance, if you are installing an IoT application for waste management and just want to know whether a particular waste bin is full or not then LoRa and LoRaWAN are perfect for the job. Similarly, if you just want to know whether a particular parking spot is free or not in a smart parking deployment then LoRa and LoRaWAN are ideal for the job.
- These are very economical solutions. Hence, you will incur much lower connectivity costs.
- They are easier to set up as compared to other technologies. Additionally, they are faster to deploy as well.
- These have two security layers. One layer is dedicated to the network and the other is dedicated to the application. Both feature AES encryption hence you will have the assurance that you won’t have any security vulnerabilities.
- They allow for complete bi-directional transmission and communication.
- These operate on an open standard that is protected under and open LoRa alliance.
The role of LoRa and LoRaWAN in the IoT sector
Many renowned telecom companies rely on LoRa. These are ideal for communications between several data gathering systems involving IoT devices. Such communications involve large data transmissions which happen frequently after set intervals.
These have much more to offer them their competitor technologies that is why they are gaining popularity. Most of the other technologies such as Sigfox operate on ultranarrow bandwidths that is why they are much more expensive and inaccessible. Therefore, it is not practical to deploy these other technologies for large scale wide area IoT applications. On top of that, other technologies are much more prone to noise and frequency fluctuations. However, LoRa and LoRaWAN are relatively immune to these.
Most key players in the IoT industry are looking to develop products and solutions for IoT applications involving large distances, low power consumption, and large data transfers. Therefore, more and more prototypes based on LoRa and LoRaWAN are in the design phase. A recent study conducted by a renowned researcher and his students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded that approximately 78% of future IoT applications and deployments will involve the use of LoRa and LoRaWAN at some point. He argued that the primary reason for this is that LoRa and LoRaWAN require less power and are more economical. Hence, they will meet our future energy demands and will offer a sustainable solution.
Possibilities of using LoRa and LoRaWAN
There are numerous possibilities for using LoRa and LoRaWAN. However, key players are only interested in certain sectors and they are only investigating the most promising probabilities. Some of these involve the development of smart parking lots, smart traffic and waste management, remote metering, safer homes and buildings, better supply chain and logistics, convenient and productive farming, efficient mining, and automated manufacturing.
Simply put, LoRaWAN is ideal for many industrial IoT applications involving the interest of private corporations and government entities. LoRaWAN has the capability to offer amazing solutions that are much more economical in comparison to the likes of Wi-Fi and cellular connections.
Use cases of LoRa and LoRaWAN
In this section, we will take a brief look at some of the unique and prominent use cases. These are as follows.
Minol Zenner Uses LoRaWAN in the housing and utility industries in Germany
This is a sub-application of smart and innovative metering. They have developed a solution based on LoRaWAN which can make it easier to perform remote metering. They are currently working on making it compliant with legal standards. Talks are underway to deploy this smart metering system. It will considerably reduce the metering cost and turn the metering process into an automatic one.
Apana’s Smart Water Management System
They recently deployed this system so that they could easily monitor their water usage and water levels at all times. Before the deployment of this system, they had no way of knowing their current water usage. Apana’s Smart Water Management System not only detects water usage and remaining water levels but it also detects and monitors any possible water leakages. Hence, it is capable of preventing any major water loss and therefore it allows for considerable cost reduction. This system is so efficient because it is based on LoRaWAN. Hence, its efficiency and excellent performance support the assertion that LoRaWAN is, in fact, the most reliable IoT technology out there.
MOKOSmart’s GPS tracker
MOKOSmart is a well-known name in the market of LoRaWAN devices. We have a significant market share in the global service sector. We take pride in quick and safe deliveries of shipments and packages ordered through them. We provide live updates and real-time tracking of the packages while they are being delivered.
We accomplish this by using our GPS tracker. Beagle provides extremely accurate and precise GPS tracking of any shipment or package. The real-time tracking is so simple that it is very easy for customers to use even if they have no prior experience with IoT. Our GPS tracker is developed by using LoRa and it transmits and processes data through the use of LoRaWAN protocols. It deploys in less than one minute and notifies the customers about the location of their package at all times. Hence, it helps in fighting against asset thefts and combats supply chain disruptions.
ComplianceMate for food monitoring
Laird Connectivity and CM Systems are independent IoT firms that are working on coming up with unique and sustainable IoT solutions. They recently developed a product known as ComplianceMate. Its primary purpose is to monitor the nutritious content of food and notifying the concerned people if it is unhealthy to eat. Food retailers can integrate ComplianceMate in their refrigerators, food containers, or storage units. So, the ComplianceMate will detect the storage temperature and will notify the retailer if it is unsafe or if the food is at the risk of contamination.
Food retailers often struggle with food wastage due to inappropriate storing or ineffective storage temperatures. ComplianceMate can eliminate this problem by suggesting effective temperatures for food storage and by notifying the retailer if there is any risk of contamination. ComplianceMate is based on LoRa and therefore it proves that LoRaWAN is an effective technology for prospective applications in commercial kitchens.
KotahiNet Connects the Cook Islands
KotahiNet has developed a LoRaWAN based network which is providing a smart sensing infrastructure to the Cook Islands. Therefore, private businesses and government entities are able to analyze and collect data from the environment. Hence, they are able to make smarter decisions about their limited island resources and extensive business operations.
KotahiNet is dedicated to using recurring patterns in nature to collect the relevant data. Therefore, it is able to provide a dedicated wireless network throughout New Zealand which is built by using LoRaWAN. They are also providing related services and products which are operational on their network.
Where can I get reliable LoRa and LoRaWAN products?
MOKOSmart is a renowned name in the IoT industry. We have years of experience in designing and manufacturing IoT products. MOKO Smart has a dedicated R&D team and we specialize in LoRaWAN based products. We have mass production capabilities and we can help you with all of your LoRa related needs. Superior Quality is our hallmark and we always deliver on time. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or if you would like to get a quote.