What is LoRaWAN Technology? What are the advantages?
IoT, which is defined as the “Internet of Things”, is a technology mentioned a lot from its production processes to the daily life. In general, IoT refers to data sharing, and interconnection of devices connected to the Internet.
IoT is a large network technology. It includes an incredible number of gigantic objects you can see through sensors in almost every field of your life.
In IoT, data are sent and received to/from the objects through sensors. Those sensors transform the data received from the surroundings into meaningful data to be able to process them. For this data exchange to be successful, it must have a network structure. Today, it is carried out through wireless network technology such as Wi-Fi. The part we interact with through IoT as users is mostly mobile and web applications. No matter how far apart we are, we want to interact and not put too much effort for it. When it is considered from this point, the space is limited with Bluetooth and wired connection. Wireless technologies do not limit us in distance; however, the cost and power consumption are quite high. Similarly, the area is limited in Wi-Fi. At this point, LoRa and LoRaWAN have been developed to produce solutions in every field and to get efficiency for many years.
What is LoRa?
LoRa stands for Long Range, which means long range wireless networking technique. Thanks to it, radio frequency signals are decoded, and data exchange is provided. LoRa is a technique which is both secure and wide-ranging for transmission.
Unlike Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it can send data to a longer distance in a longer time. It means that it consumes less battery.
LoRa operates on three frequency bands: 433 MHz, 868 MHz, and 915 MHz.
LoRa communication technology consists of four parts: end device, gateway, network server, and application server.
End Device: These small and wireless sensors which always send a small amount of data are usually battery powered.
Gateway: It can be defined as a converter and an access point. It is multi-channel. It means that it can receive multiple messages at the same time. It includes a LoRa radio module and IP connectivity for it. An example of an IP connection is Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi connection, etc. They receive the LoRa communications from the end devices and transmit the message they received over the IP connection to the network server. The important point here is that a gateway can handle multiple or even thousands of nodes and provide kilometres of space while processing it.
Network Server: Messages are replicated through network server. Although it receives messages from multiple gateways, it can forward it to the correct application server.
Application Server: It processes message encryption, data storage, and end devices joining the network. This is where LoRaWAN messages end.
What is LoRaWAN?
LoRaWAN is a protocol developed to enable LoRa end devices to communicate. It stands for Long Range Wide Area Network. It is designed for wireless products on an international or regional network. Although it has a wide communication area, its power consumption is low.
Application areas suitable for LoRaWAN can be listed as security systems, smart measurement, smart cities, industrial control, and automation technologies.
It is possible to achieve communication ranges up to 15 km with LoRaWAN. There is an adaptive data range to provide it. This data rate balances communication range and messaging time. Network connections such as Ethernet, 3G, or Wi-Fi, which lose their function in the absence of electricity, communicate thorough LoRaWAN before transmitting messages with traditional protocols. These communications are often bidirectional. LoRaWAN also supports multicast for actual network updates or bulk forwarded emergency messages.
What are the device classes of LoRaWAN?
In Class A devices, there is a bidirectional communication between the gateway and the device. Class A devices can always transfer data to the server through the gateway. After each data transfer, the sensor opens a window to the server. Meanwhile, in case a “downlink” comes from the server (the name given to the information from the server), the device processes it.
Class A devices are generally battery powered. They have low energy consumption as they mostly work in sleep mode. Data transmission times are long.
They are used for environment monitoring, fire systems, preventing water leaks, location tracking, etc.
Class B devices generally open scheduled windows through the gateway and send data through these windows without waiting to send the data to receive the downlink message. The period during which devices are available to receive downlinks is called “ping slot”. The similarity of class B devices with class A devices is that they both receive data after sending it. However, class B devices delay less than class A devices. They consume more energy than class A devices since energy is exchanged between beacons and ping slots while the device is running.
They are used for smart meter reading and reporting etc.
Class C devices are always open to receive data, except when sending data. Therefore, there is almost no delay times. However, they consume much more energy than other classes because of it. They mostly work plugged in since they consume energy quickly. They do not experience downlink lag.
They are used for street lighting and traffic lights etc.
Advantages of LoRaWAN Technology
- It has a long range providing communication up to 15 km.
- Since data transmission and reception require less than 50 mA of current, power consumption is low, providing up to 10 years of battery life.
- Since it has a bidirectional communication, it can be used for several areas.
- It is based on an open protocol overseeing the standard and its development, ensuring interoperability across networks.
- LoRaWAN provides the ability to use the band without licence for the frequency of any service provider.
- It can be put into use with little investment thanks to low cost base stations and free operating frequencies.
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