The evolving IoT market sets new requirements for communication standards. The number of devices is growing at a fast pace, and each of them generates a lot of data. These devices should also have low energy consumption, as their operating conditions often require the use of battery power. The range of communication and the easy handling of a large number of devices would also be welcome.
These conditions make the existing communication standards - such as 2G, 3G, WiFi or Bluetooth simply inadequate.
For these reasons, new technologies emerge and respond to the needs of the IoT world. One of them is being used in our company - it's LoRaWAN.
What is LoRaWAN?
LoRaWAN is a long-range radio communication protocol that allows energy savings. Various estimates shows that devices which use this kind of communication can work on batteries for up to 5 years. It is an open technology which uses sub-gigahertz frequency bands (for example 868MHz in Europe). Using the LoRaWan band is free of charge - unlicensed bandwidth means that many entities can create their own networks without major difficulties. This increases the availability of technology and positively affects the possibility of use in places where traditional cellular communication is unavailable. All you need to do is start your own access point.
The popularity of technology is also influenced by the fact that the organization that is standardizing it - LoRa Alliance - has as many as 500 members. Including giants of the world of technology - Cisco or ARM.
LoRaWAN is a protocol developed for high performance and low energy consumption. It optimizes communication between nodes and access gates which ensures data transfer to servers. The protocol is also fully bi-directional (gives the certainty of receiving information) and allows you to remotely add new devices to the network. There is a possibility to transmit to multiple devices at the same time (eg a message with a request for status change). Not without significance is the fact that the transmission in the network is fully encrypted - this allows it to be used in specific industries - eg medical.
The endpoints are usually IoT devices that act as sensors, controllers, etc. Due to their energy consumption, they are divided into 3 classes - from A (least energy intensive) to C (offers higher transmission speed, but uses more energy).
Class A is ideally suited for sensors transmitting data at a specific frequency, class C, however, works best for example in an advanced controllers.
The system gates are connected to the network server that manages the flow of information, and this is connected to the application server, where the interpretation and processing of data happens. Gateways can be connected to multiple devices - providing scalability. Transmission range depends mainly of the speed we want to achieve. With a slower transmission speed of devices in class A, the range of communication can reach up to 10 km in non-urbanized areas.
To sum up
LoRaWAN is a great data transmission protocol for IoT devices. It provides long range, scalability, low power consumption and transmission security. It is ideal for use in sensors, wearable devices (including medical) and controllers (eg in Industry 4.0).
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