LoRaWAN technology has been projected to grow at a rapid rate in the global LPWAN market. While Low-power LTE is coming strong, the CEO of Teksmobile argued why LoRaWAN is better and presented these 5 strong reasons why LoRaWAN is better and why telecom companies (wireless device makers and OEMs) should use it.
By Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO of Teksmobile
The popularity of LoRaWAN among telecom operators across the globe is increasing at a rapid rate. Just take a look at the strong tech companies behind the alliance. The recent trends have indicated that it is gaining strong momentum. In what follows, we will take a closer look at the major factors that should convince OEMs and wireless device manufacturers to adopt LoRaWAN.
- Unrivalled battery performance – Devices working in a LoRa network do not operate at higher than 10-25 mW (in compliance with ISM frequency usage regulations). That, in turn, economizes on total data consumption levels and enhances the battery life of the devices to 9-10 years, on average. This figure is significantly higher than the battery performance of both LTE Cat-M (<2 years) and Narrowband (<8 years) devices. By nature, LoRa uses ‘low power’, and hence its battery performance is higher than that of its rivals.
- Adaptive Data Rates – The Adaptive Data Rates (ADR) of LoRa networks offer a much-needed flexibility to telecom companies which opt for it. In accordance to the ‘LoRaWAN R1.0 Open standard for the IoT’ (2015), this LPWAN protocol works in a data range of 0.3Kbps to 50Kbps. The ADR is managed by the network server, with the help of specific algorithms (for individual devices). As a result, the overall network capacity is optimally utilized, LoRa implementation becomes that much easier and efficient, and device batteries get a further boost.
- Superior coverage – One of the biggest advantages of LoRa technology is its seamless usability in all types of environments (urban and rural). In fact, in rural/semi-urban areas, the coverage of LoRa network shoots up 15-18 kilometers – while in urban locations (e.g., cities) too, the coverage is upwards of 10 kilometers. As a result, only a few LoRa base stations need to be set up, to cover entire cities (for the creation of ‘smart cities’). For instance, nearly the whole of Belgium (nine-tenths) is covered by 360 base stations, around 250 base stations cover the entire of Switzerland, and for Netherlands, 500 base stations are enough.
- Significant cost advantage – Implementation of the LoRa network protocol requires the presence of advanced LoRa gateways and concentrators. While at first these might seem to be an additional expense (NB-IoT, for example, does not need gateways) – the gateways are very competitively priced. In addition, the cost of the radio chipsets is less than $2 and the annual subscription fees are no more than $1 (for each device. There are no hefty upfront investments required – and that mitigates the overall business risk factor considerably.
- Ease of deployment – Instead of the traditional mesh architecture, a LoRa setup follows the ‘star-of-stars topology’ – for easier setup and deployment by telecom providers. The network architecture leaves little room for possible errors, and implementation is far from being costly. What’s more – thousands (literally!) of nodes/devices can be connected with a single gateway, lowering management-related pressures. The ‘Chirp Spread Spectrum’ (CSS) is used in the physical layer of the LoRa infrastructure. It is also possible to keep the radio-frequency (RF) link budget constant, while bringing down the transmitter power – to gain more battery performance.
Other significant advantages of the LoRa technology include its superior scalability, robust security features, support for bi-directional communication and the fact that it is available ‘open standard’. LoRa has also found favor among telecom companies in smart cities, since it can be used to create a vast range of IoT applications, right from smart parking slots, public lights and waste management tools, to connected car support, home automation, water and pollution meters, predictive maintenance sensors, and even city drones.
In early-February this year, Actility joined hands with Inmarsat to create the world’s very first global LoRaWAN network. The application of LoRa in private networks is also increasing – with many companies using the technology to establish ‘smart workspaces’. The protocol can be integrated with 5G-supported base stations as well, ensuring future viability. The LPWAN market has moved on from its infancy stage and is well into its ‘early maturity’ phase. There are plenty of scopes for telecom companies to move on to the LoRa platform and expand their businesses – the technology has way too many advantages to be ignored.
Hussain Fakhruddin is a senior mobile apps and API architect. He is the founder/CEO of Teksmobile and has worked on more than 1000 mobile app development projects. Hussain is very experienced in APIs, IoT and LPWAN technologies and a frequent participant of leading tech events. Hussain enjoys reading, travels and watching movies.
Figure 1: LoRaWAN has many benefits that will propel the growth at a rapid rate. Among them are overcoming of the IoT bottleneck, low cost and great battery performance.