LoRaWAN solutions have the greatest quantity and variety of sensors today. On top of that, it emerged ahead of the 5G ecosystem and is the most reliable end-to-end solution available today. LoRaWAN solutions have deployments in more than 140 countries worldwide. Additionally, IoT experts and analysts are predicting that LoRaWAN solutions will constitute more than 80% of the LPWAN market in the next decade. In this article, we will try to explore whether LoRaWAN will show a dominant trend or will it co-exist with the 5G.
Development of LoRaWAN Solutions
LoRaWAN is very effective for long-range, wireless, and low-power radio networking. It operates in unlicensed frequency bands. Therefore, we can deploy it without any difficulty. Hence, it is easier and more convenient for devices with small footprints to communicate with other frameworks and devices on large scales.
LoRaWAN solutions are fairly simple to understand. The communication of star networks is analogous to the conversation in a classroom. The gateway is capable of communicating with the nodes and nodes are free to do the same.
Let’s suppose that your LoRaWAN solution has one node and four gateways. In such a case, the nodes will randomly transmit into the radio spectrum. The gate which can hear the transmission will catch it and forward it to the cloud. It is quite a possibility that all of the gateways will listen in on the message and forward it to the cloud. This eliminates the risk for loss of data due to weak communication links or interference of any sort.
Once your message reaches the cloud, the system will generate an acknowledgment receipt. However, this process is not automatic. In order for this to work, the nodes in LoRaWAN solutions will have to request acknowledgment receipts. If a node requests for an acknowledgment then the cloud chooses one gateway for responding after a fixed interval. This adds another layer of quality assurance. Almost all LPWAN systems have multiple receiving channels and LoRaWAN is no exception. LoRaWAN solutions are capable of receiving up to 8 messages at the same time across different frequency channels.
Challenges in Development of 5G
Like any emerging technology, 5G also faces some challenges during its development. We will take a look at some of these challenges in this section.
Manufacturing Costs and Retail Prices
It is expensive to build a 5G network as it requires sophisticated resources. 5G plans will incur high initial costs as it is not as simple as building another layer on top of an existing network. This is because 5G is a completely different technology altogether. According to market analysts, the total spending on 5G will reach $88 billion before a viable solution comes to market. Therefore, its high manufacturing costs are a big hurdle.
Restricted Frequency bands
Current LTEs operate on frequency bands below 6GHz. However, 5G requires frequency bands of up to 3000 GHz. Although, these bands have a greater capacity and promise faster speeds but their licensing is a big challenge. Licensing of these bands will most likely involve bidding before rolling out of respective 5G solutions. In the US alone, bidding of the 28 GHz band reached $690 million by the end of 2018.
Lack of Device Support
Many talks are going on for the manufacturing of smartphones and other devices that support 5g. However, their availability is tied to how quickly 5G becomes viable and how much is their manufacturing cost. Therefore, it is certain that we won’t see many devices with 5G support for some years to come.
Coverage and Deployment
5G offers a significant increase in bandwidth and speed. However, it has a limited range. Therefore, it will require further infrastructure before widespread deployments. Higher frequencies mean that the radio waves are highly directional as well. Therefore, it is easier to target them. This practice is called beamforming and has a threat for exploitation.
Another challenge is that the 5G antennas are able to handle more data but they have short-range coverage. The base stations and antennas are getting smaller but we have to install them on homes or buildings. Smart cities will have to install extra repeaters to allow spreading out of the waves over longer ranges. Hence, it will maintain consistent transmission speeds in densely populated areas. So, it is quite clear that the 5G network will take some time for maturing.
We intend to replace the Wi-Fi routers and modems in the future with 5G small cells. Therefore, we can bring 5G connections to our homes and small businesses. Hence, we will replace the conventional wired internet connections. So, it is a great challenge to spread the access of 5G to rural areas.
Privacy and Security
Ensuring security and privacy is a great challenge with any data-driven technology. However, 5G will have to ensure measures against sophisticated as well as standard cyber threats. Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA) is a system for establishing trust between networks and 5G falls under it. This will allow for tracking people nearby through the location of their smart devices. It will even allow them to eavesdrop on your ongoing phone calls.
Hence, it is the responsibility of 5G developers to ensure the digital safety of their customers and protect their privacy. The connectivity will surely increase as the data speeds get faster than current levels. Therefore, data virtualization services and cloud servers must ensure airtight security and protect the privacy and personal data of their users. However, their users must ensure that they are more vigilant and careful in sharing their sensitive data.
Pros of LoRaWAN Solutions over the 5G
Here are some of the pros of LoRaWAN over the 5G,
Cost-effective and Economical
LoRaWAN deployments are very economical and cost-effective. This is because they consume very little power and have a long battery span. On top of that, they are very small in size. Hence, installment and maintenance costs tend to reduce significantly.
Unlicensed Frequency Bands
LoRaWAN operates on unlicensed frequency bands. Therefore, it is easier and more convenient to deploy because no licensing fees are involved. Additionally, it allows for better inter-platform support and improved accessibility.
LoRaWAN provides widespread support across sensors and devices of various types. It requires simple nodes to operate hence there is no need for any sophisticated frameworks. Therefore, we can use it for mass deployments and vast IoT implementations.
LoRaWAN supports long-range communications on its own. However, we can further increase its effective range by integrating a cloud service. This allows LoRaWAN to effectively communicate over the long-range as well as the short-range. The nodes in LoRaWAN networks communicate by first transmitting to the nearest gateways and then that gateway further transfers the data to the cloud server. The LoRaWAN gateways are efficient at picking up data packets so the chances of interference or noise are very low. On top of that, we can add additional layers of security in the form of acknowledgment receipts. These receipts allow us to ensure that the data packets are smoothly transmitting.
LoRaWAN allows us to make hybrid public-private networks. This allows us to control user access to classified data and information. We can devise filters and implement screening mechanisms to avoid malicious attempts. Therefore, LoRaWAN allows us to have broad control over the degree of privacy we want our network to have.
Current and Future Trends of LoRaWAN and 5G
The depth and complexity of the 5G use cases mean that the sophistication of 5G is “too much” for certain networks. This will lead to a need for a “right-size technology” for supporting the existing applications in the market. IoT experts argue that 5G LTE provides better performance but it does so at the expense of certain key parameters. And these key parameters are well covered by the LoRaWAN solutions. Experts predict that LoRaWAN will exploit this limitation of 5G and try to capitalize on it. Analysts foresee that 5G might narrow the technology gap to a certain extent. However, there is always room for highly targeted and specialized solutions like LoRaWAN.
How LoRaWAN Solutions May Prevail?
Industry experts go as far as to claim that LoRaWAN will remain a De facto unlicensed standard even in the 5G era. They suggest that LoRaWAN is more convenient for mass adoption as it offers low battery consumption and enables hybrid public-private networks. The developments in 5G up till now are focused on critical communications and broadband services. Therefore, we can’t effectively use them for a large IoT deployment. Hence, we can clearly conclude that LoRaWAN will surely play its role in future IoT frameworks due to its optimal properties and promising traits.
If you are thinking about implementing LoRaWAN for your IoT implementation then you are in the right place. MOKO Smart can help by providing you the necessary LoRaWAN modules which you can deploy as per your requirements. Feel free to reach out to us if you want to know more about our products and services. We are hoping to hear from you soon.