LoRaWAN

Given the rapid growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and overall digitalization, communication technologies such as LoRaWAN are required.

LoRaWAN is a wireless transmission technology based on open standards. Key features of LoRaWAN are cost- and energy- efficiency, long-range communication, and secure operation through end-to-end encryption. This make LoRaWAN attractive within various fields. It has been specially customized for applications such as smart metering, intelligent parking systems and other smart city functions.

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Standard and compatibility

LoRaWAN refers to the open standard protocol managed by the LoRa Alliance. It communicates via LoRa alliance, encompassing every aspect from the ISO-OSI layers to the architecture of the receiving server.

There is no standard regarding the data message format, as this depends on the individual provider of the device. It is therefore uncertain whether the data will be public or not. The lack of a defined format can imply creative opportunities, but also pose a challenge for the integrating system.

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Technical performance

LoRaWAN and NB-IoT are often contenders for the title of “best IoT wireless technology” but it is not about one winner. Both technologies provide valuable features, which is why the preferred choice depends on the specific use case. LoRaWAN offers a more decentralized approach, implying that the owner, if willing to set up and manage their own infrastructure, will gain more control over the deployment and ownership of the network. In contrast, NB-IoT is a managed solution using existing cellular networks. LoRaWAN is, however, considered to be the more cost-efficient option as it uses private networks.

All wireless technologies that use unlicensed frequency bands may experience interference with other radio devices. Each broadcaster competes for the same limited airtime because the signal between transmitter and receiver is attenuated by physical objects. In contrast to some other wireless solutions, LoRaWAN has a strong penetration ability.

In case of radio interference, messages from the meter or sensor are usually lost and cannot be recovered. LoRaWAN devices send fewer messages per time unit compared to wireless M-Bus but offers increased reliability and the ability to acknowledge message receipt.

LoRaWAN system excel in scalability through the implementation of the Adaptive Data Rate (ADR) mechanism. Meters and sensors adjust their communication strategy through ADR to optimize the transmission interval while conserving battery power.

Long-range communication implies lower bandwidth and increased power consumption. To reduce the power consumption and optimizing the communication it is essential to keep the data messages short and to send fewer messages per day. It is also important to ensure that the distance between the transmitter and receiver remains within the maximum range. Consequently, LoRaWAN can, with a single AA-sized cell, offer an excellent battery-performance lasting up to ten years.

LoRaWAN is generally regarded as a one-way communication system, despite its capability for bidirectional communication. Uplink communication works effectively, while downlink-communication is constrained in terms of the amount of data it can handle. For instance, firmware updates may still pose challenges.

Suitable applications

LoRaWAN is particularly suitable for battery-powered devices with low resolution and simple measuring instruments. This are, for instance, sensors or meter connectivity modules. Its features are akin to wireless M-Bus, but LoRaWAN has better wireless connectivity. However, it is important to note that LoRaWAN operates within a distinct ecosystem with specific infrastructure requirements and greater dependence on cloud services.

Elvaco LoRaWAN products

Elvaco is your ideal partner when it comes to LoRaWAN technology. Our product range includes several high-precision, energy-efficient and eco-friendly sensors, and meter connectivity models with LoRaWAN compatibility.

Our meter connectivity modules (MCM) are integrated into a specific meter from one of our meter providers. The meter connectivity module transfers meter data to a receiving system through a LoRaWAN network. The MCMs use end-to-end encryption, which ensures reliable and secure data transmission when communicating with a compatible gateway over long distance. In combination with its ability to penetrate objects, the LoRaWAN meter connectivity module is a great choice for larger areas such as commercial buildings and industrial areas.

Except from providing reliable and secure data over long distance, the LoRaWAN meter connectivity modules have a low power consumption. It makes them the perfect option for applications where long battery life is important. Our LoRaWAN meter connectivity modules can typically be operated up to 10 years.

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