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Technologies - LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) is a protocol that permits long-range connectivity for Internet of things (IoT) devices, and is used in various applications and industries. LoRa devices are often low-power and battery-operated, which can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure.

LoRa uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands in the megahertz (MHz) range, achieving data rates between 0.3 kbit/s and 27 kbit/s and enabling long-range transmissions of up to 30 miles (48 km) in rural areas, though this can be increased further using range extenders, called LoRaX.

The communication protocol, known as LoRaWAN, was developed by Cycleo and later acquired by Semtech, the founding member of the LoRa Alliance. While LoRa defines the physical layer, enabling the long-range communication link, LoRaWAN is responsible for managing the communication frequencies, data rate, and power for the devices.

A key feature of LoRa is its ability to trade off data rate and power consumption for improved sensitivity. LoRa uses a proprietary form of spread spectrum modulation derived from chirp spread spectrum (CSS) technology, where each bit of payload information is encoded in multiple chirps of information. More chirps can be transmitted per second, resulting in a decreased spread factor (SF) and a higher data rate. A higher SF would result from fewer chirps per second. The low-power nature of LoRa means that modems are only up and running as long as they need to be, and running them with higher SF means a lower data rate and a concomitant increase in transmission time and power consumption. The benefit of higher SF is improved sensitivity. 


Devices in the network are asynchronous and transmit when they have data available to send. Data transmitted by an end-node device is received by multiple gateways, which forward the data packets to a centralized network server. The network server filters duplicate packets, performs security checks (such as end-to-end encryption and mutual authentication), and manages the network. Data is then forwarded to application servers.

In January 2018, new LoRa chipsets were announced, with reduced power consumption, increased transmission power, and reduced size compared to older generation. LoRa devices have GPS-free geolocation capabilities used for trilaterating positions of devices via timestamps from gateways.

LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol are hugely powerful, low-cost tools for IoT networks, with 167 million devices worldwide and counting.

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