LoRa Technology—The Heart and Soul of IoT

LoRa-Arad

LoRa, which stands for Long Range, is a patented technology that was developed by Cycleo and bought by Semtech in 2012. The technology enables digital wireless communications at specific radio frequencies for low-power, long-range transmissions. There are many different factors that affect the distance of transmission such as indoor or outdoor gateways, the type of antenna, and physical barriers that could block the radio waves. In rural areas, the LoRa range can be as long as 50 kilometers.

LoRa has become the standard wireless platform for WAN IoT, connecting 50 million devices in more than 100 countries across a wide range of “smart” applications from homes, buildings and cities to agriculture and, of course, metering. Semtech has done a great job of leveraging the LoRa technology that they purchased for a mere $5,000,000.

LoRaWAN

LoRa technology has two parts: LoRa, the proprietary physical layer, and LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network), the upper layer. LoRa is the underlying technology in RF chips that transmit encoded data in a technique called Chirp Spread Spectrum. When people say LoRa, however, they are usually referring to LoRaWAN, which allows battery operated IoT sensors to connect with the Internet in local, regional and global networks, as well as supporting GPS data. [1]

Another benefit of LoRaWAN networks is that they support bi-directional communication. In addition to being able to send data from the sensor to the network, the network can send back a message or call to action to the device.

The LoRa Alliance

While LoRa technology is owned by Semtech, which manufactures the RF chips that are embedded in all smart devices that run on LoRaWAN, the LoRa Alliance is a non-profit association that ensures standardization and global harmonization of the LoRaWAN open standard protocol.

Semtech is a founding member of the fast-growing LoRa Alliance, whose more than 500 members include network operators that are active throughout the Unites States and Canada, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and parts of Asia and Africa. [2]

The Things Network

The Things Network is one of the larger LoRaWAN networks, with more than 60,000 developers providing services to over 2,000,000 users throughout the world including the Middle East.

Hosting the world’s largest IoT forum, The Things Network supports a wide range of smart technologies from metering to restaurant and hospitality applications and even to devices such as a better mousetrap.

One of the secrets of The Things Networks success is that they encourage and support LoRaWAN network communities. Whether it be open source code for developers, their IoT forum, or the close-knit communities they support in hundreds of cities throughout the world, The Things Network promotes collaboration and assists companies to help each other to grow. [3]

The Final Note

There are many good reasons why LoRa and LoRaWAN are the industry standard in long-range, low-power transmissions:

  • Low operating expenses
  • Low power enables long life for batteries
  • Secure – fully encrypted with mutual authentication
  • Long range
  • Geo-location capabilities
  • Supports millions of messages per base station
  • Thanks to the LoRaWAN Alliance, there is an industry standard

The Arad Group is in the process of making its smart water meters LoRa-compliant so that our customers can continue to implement real-time solutions for optimal tracking, monitoring and management of municipal and agricultural water resources.

References

[1] Semtech, What is LoRa, 2019
[2] LoRa Alliance, LoRa Alliance, 2019
[3] Elizabeth Shogren, The Things Network, 2019

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