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The Basics of LoRaWAN - All You Need to Know

What you need to know about LoRaWANThe Basics of LoRaWAN - All You Need to Know

The low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) is a wireless telecommunications network that enables linked devices to communicate over long distances at low bit rates. There exist various types of LPWAN, but one of the most popular is the LoRaWAN technology.

LoRaWAN, the low-power system which uses star network topology, has proven to be the preferred choice of network connectivity in some specific use cases by most IoT manufacturers. This has got people wondering what exactly is LoRaWAN and what makes it a better option.

As a result, this article will offer you a basic grasp of what LoRaWAN is, why it's so useful, and some of its applications.

What is LoRaWAN?
LoRaWAN is an abbreviation for Long-range Wide Area Network. It is a low-power network that enables communication between two things or devices over a long-range at a low bit rate. It also manages communication between end node devices and network gateways.

LoRaWAN technology, developed for the Internet of Things (IoT), has a far greater range than most network connections, works well indoors, and is particularly useful for applications in distant locations where cellular networks have limited coverage. Currently, the most prevalent devices that use LoRaWAN are battery-powered sensors.

What Makes LoRaWAN a Great Network Choice
LoRaWAN is a one-of-a-kind networking system. Here are some primary reasons and benefits why it appeals to IoT makers:

Long-Range Coverage
Compared to most networks like WiFi or Bluetooth, LoRaWAN offers a more extended range of connectivity between two devices with its sub 1GHz frequencies and narrow frequency band.

LoRaWAN is particularly advantageous since it can give coverage almost anywhere on the planet—as long as there is a service provider gateway in place, or you can build a gateway yourself. In most circumstances, building your LoRaWAN network is a great way to ensure the sensors are connected.

Low Power Usage
LoRaWAN helps connected devices last longer because of its ultra-low power —this is possible because these connected devices are made to sleep when there is no active signal connection.

Furthermore, it consumes less than 50 milliamps of current to transfer or receive signals over LoRaWAN. Thus, promoting longer battery life of connected devices. You can even use such devices to track things like the soil health of a field.

Open Source Technology
LoRaWAN is open source, meaning you can build your network gateway, or you could decide to access or use a network of known vendors of LoRaWAN, such as Helium.

Deep Indoor Penetration
Because of this benefit, you can access the existing LoRaWAN network around you, even if you don't have a personal LoRaWAN gateway.

The deep indoor penetration allows you to use your sensors without installing and maintaining a gateway.

License Free Spectrum
One great advantage of the LoRaWAN network is its license-free spectrum. Most cellular operators use licensed frequencies; however, all LoRaWAN networks employ unlicensed frequencies that differ by nation.

If you own your LoRaWAN infrastructure, you won't be charged for data usage. Still, you'll be responsible for maintaining the hardware and ensuring that communication is safe. Because of these unlicensed frequency bands, LoRaWAN is affordable and accessible worldwide.

End-To-End Security
With LoRaWAN, you won't have to worry about sensitive or confidential information being stolen by third parties or hackers —this is possible thanks to the end-to-end security provided by LoRaWAN.

Only linked devices communicating with one another can read each other's communications.

Easy Firmware Updates
Developers can easily update devices without direct contact with them due to the over-the-air firmware updates feature by LoRaWAN.

This enables users to install gateways or other LoRaWAN devices in locations that are not accessible daily.

Certification Program
One good thing about the LoRaWAN network is that it's compatible with most end devices, so this is probably the least of your concerns when choosing this network. This is possible because LoRaWAN offers certification programs that enable users to buy application-specific end devices that would be compatible with the network.

This means that for whatever use cases you intend to use LoRaWAN for, there are end devices you can purchase that would work well with LoRaWAN.

With this feature, network users can virtually see where gateways or other LoRaWAN devices are located.

Applications of LoRaWAN Network
Just like other networks, the applications and uses of LoRaWAN are limitless. However, the largest LoRaWAN network provider, Helium, specified five major use cases of this particular network technology on their website.

They include:

Smart Agriculture
With LoRaWAN, farmers and crop growers can track the farm environment. It becomes easy to keep records of soil and temperature conditions. Click here to learn more about how LoRaWAN is used in agriculture.

Smart Cities
Public safety and resource management is made possible by the LoRaWAN network. Due to its ability to provide low-cost and reliable coverage for hundreds of parking management, water monitoring, air quality monitoring, and energy management devices.

Another way of ensuring public safety is to monitor the air quality - accurately monitor air quality both inside and outside, allowing for more proactive safety measures such as issuing AQI alerts to the general public. You can learn more about this; click here.

Environment Monitoring
Effectively detecting environmental disasters can help limit the loss of lives and property. This is possible as Helium tracks extreme weather conditions in real-time to protect people, animals, and infrastructure during natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes.

The network ensures safe drinking water. It prevents contamination through accurate real-time monitoring and data collection via sensors on The People's Network. Click here.

Logistics and Supply Chain
Logistics and supply chain monitoring and management are made possible by tracking vehicles, shipments, and more. Specialized trackers provide end-to-end data quickly and accurately — no matter the route.

Additionally, products and properties are continuously tracked through the supply chain. Most Helium-compatible tracker devices have features that detect theft and temperature change. To learn more about this use, click here.

Smart Water Monitoring
Utility providers can monitor and track water usage and quality in real-time, resulting in safer water conditions and limiting water usage costs.

Interestingly, they can also collect real-time data and receive alerts for water leaks and broken pipes, allowing companies and property owners to save on water loss and damage costs. All this is possible with the Helium LoRaWAN network. For more information on this, click here.

LoRaWAN network technology is fast changing the world with its numerous use in different industries. Furthermore, because it is an inexpensive long-range, bidirectional communication protocol with very low power consumption, which enables devices to function for a long time on a single battery, LoRaWAN is becoming more popular in industrial spaces and smart cities. Therefore, it's not surprising that most IoT makers opt for it.

Also, if you want to build a private network gateway or depend on public networks, the LoRaWAN is a good option. This is because it's an open-source technology that offers you the choice to do both.


1. What Is the Difference Between WiFi and LoRaWAN?
For someone who is probably hearing about the uses of LoRaWAN, you might be quick to confuse it with WiFi. While they are both used to transfer data between things, they have their differences.

WiFi transfers large amounts of data between two devices at a rapid speed over a short-range. On the other hand, LoRaWAN sends tiny bits of data hourly or daily over numerous kilometers at a low pace.

2. What Is the Difference Between 5G and LoRaWAN?
LoRaWAN is a relatively basic technology created from the bottom up to serve specific use cases like IoT deployments in the agriculture, oil and gas, utilities, and transportation industries, compared to 5G. It also implies cheaper prices, improved accessibility, and battery life than 5G.

However, this is not to argue that a LoRa-based connection may be considered a 5G replacement, but they can coexist together.

3. What Is the Difference Between LoRa and LoRaWAN?
LoRa and LoRaWAN are commonly used interchangeably; however, they are two different things entirely. LoRa or Long Range is a wireless network technology that enables tiny bits of data to be sent over a long-distance range. However, LoRa creates a physical layer of wireless transfer technology, such as a transceiver chip.

This means that LoRa lacks the necessary network protocols to support data gathering and endpoint device management traffic. This is where LoRaWAN comes in handy, enabling users or devices to communicate wirelessly with LoRa. It uses LoRa, which refers to the network and how data is transmitted.