Introduction to LoRa

LoRa (Long Range) is a patented digital wireless data communication technology developed by Cycleo of Grenoble, France, and acquired by Semtech in 2012. LoRa uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands like 169 MHz, 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (North America). LoRa enables very-long-range transmissions (more than 10 km in rural areas) with low power consumption. The technology is presented in two parts — LoRa, the physical layer and LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network), the upper layers.

LoRa and LoRaWAN permit inexpensive, long-range connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices in rural, remote and offshore industries. They are typically used in mining, natural resource management, renewable energy, transcontinental logistics, and supply chain management.

The LoRa physical layer protocol is closed and proprietary; therefore, there is no freely available official documentation. However, several people have analyzed it and documented their findings.

LoRaWAN is the network on which LoRa operates, and can be used by IoT for remote and unconnected industries. LoRaWAN is a media access control (MAC) layer protocol but mainly is a network layer protocol for managing communication between LPWAN gateways and end-node devices as a routing protocol, maintained by the LoRa Alliance. Version 1.0 of the LoRaWAN specification was released in June 2015. In basic terms, one can consider LoRaWAN to be a new WiFi to connect new IoT devices across every industry.

LoRaWAN defines the communication protocol and system architecture for the network, while the LoRa physical layer enables the long-range communication link. LoRaWAN is also responsible for managing the communication frequencies, data rate, and power for all devices. 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, and manages the network. Data is then forwarded to application servers. The technology shows high reliability for the moderate load, however, it has some performance issues related to sending acknowledgements.

Platforms based on LoRaWAN include:

  • Wavebricks is building a globally distributed, crowd-sourced and open IoT data and geolocalization network, owned and operated by its users. Wavebricks aimed to be a decentralized LoRaWAN infrastructure, allowing multiple network servers to work with one another. Wavebricks is developed by Strataggem which provides network infrastructure, ruggerized gateways, and custom nodes for smart cities, industry 4.0, smart agriculture and robotics. Wavebricks combines centimetric positioning technology and IoT communication in a unique service.
  • Globalsat, both a public LoRaWAN and private LoRa Nodes solution provider for WW, include Europe, United States, Asia regions and the Japan market.
  • Fleet Space Technologies uses LoRaWAN to provide massive connectivity to IoT sensors and devices in rural, remote and offshore areas.
  • ThingsConnected, a free platform provided by the UK Digital Catapult.
  • The Things Network: The Things Network is building a globally distributed, crowd-sourced and open IoT data network, owned and operated by its users. Using low power, long range technologies, The Things Network provides an end-to-end stack: from nodes, to gateways, network server, device management and integrations with major cloud providers and IoT platforms. All fully secure and configurable by the end user.
  • iFrogLab, public LoRaWAN and LoRa provider for North America and Taiwan.
  • IoT-X, platform from Stream Technologies for public and private networks.
  • Everynet, provides a platform and gateways for Lora use in the Americas, Europe, China.
  • Actility offers ThingPark Wireless, a network management platform for public LoRaWAN deployments and ThingPark Enterprise, for dedicated and private networks.
  • Senet, public LoRaWAN provider in North America.
  • LORIOT.io, global public LoRaWAN operator and platform for private and public networks.

The above is a basic about LoRa. Watch this space for more updates on the latest trends in Technology.

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