LoRa VS LoRaWAN: What are the differences and definitions?


LoRa and LoRaWAN is short for “Long Range Radio”. In 2009, it was demonstrated to the world by a start-up French company Cycleo as a spread spectrum modulation technology. The technology is based on linear frequency modulation (CSS).

The creation of LoRaWAN began after Semtech acquired Cycleo for $5 million in March 2012. The first LoRaWAN specification was co-founded by IBM Semtech and Actility.

1. What is LoRa technology?

What is LoRa technology

LoRa technology is a long-distance wireless transmission technology, while at the same time it has low energy consumption. It is also a kind of LPWAN communication technology. At present, the use of special spread spectrum technology greatly improves the receiving sensitivity and effectively expands the capacity of the system.

Its biggest advantage is that it can cover a longer distance than other wireless methods but with lower power consumption. Moreover, Infrastructure costs are much lower than those of other networks.

The US Semtech company was the first one who adopted and spread this technology. The purpose is to provide users with wireless communication means that can achieve long-distance transmission and low power consumption. LoRa network has 4 components: the terminal, cloud, gateway, and server.

LoRa technology is famous for its long-distance capability. Let me show you data as an example: with a single gateway or base station, Lora can cover hundreds of square kilometers.

2. What is LoRaWAN technology?

What is LoRaWAN technology

LoRaWAN is a remote wide area networking protocol developed by the LoRa It has a large coverage area measured in kilometers. Things can be wirelessly connected to the Internet with LoRaWAN technology. LoRaWAN also has the Internet of Things (IoT) features, enabling two-way communication, mobility services, and so on.

It uses the unlicensed spectrum in the ISM band to define the system as well as the protocol of the network.

3. What is LoRa Alliance?

The LoRa Consortium was founded in March 2015. Since its foundation, the LoRaWAN specification has been constantly updated, from version 1.0.0 to version 1.0.2, and currently available for download is version 1.0.2 completed in July 2016. LoRa Alliance is a non-profit international alliance organization. The aim of this organization is to advance the standardization process of Low Power Area Network (LPWAN). As you can see, the lead authors of the specification include N.Sernin and M.Uis of Semtech, T.Esich, and T.Ramp of IBM, and O.Sent of AcTIlty, all of whom are members of the Consortium’s board.

The members of the LoRa Alliance cover companies and collectives from all over the world, including equipment manufacturers, sensor manufacturers, chip manufacturers, innovative start-ups, and so on.

According to LoRa Alliance statistics in 2016, most European companies joined the alliance, followed by Asia-Pacific companies. Although it was only established more than two years, its alliance members more than 500, making the alliance quickly become a model in the Internet of things field. The members include IBM, Cisco, Foxconn, HP, Alibaba, Schneider, Boshi, SK Telecom, Orange, ZTE, and other industry leaders, as well as a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises.

As an organization that mainly aims to spread the technical standards in the first place, nowadays Lora Alliance is also trying hard to promote the market-oriented alliance of the industry.

The Alliance Secretary Committee is composed of four parts, which are responsible for technology development, strategic decision-making, marketing, and certification. The four committees perform their own duties but are interconnected, and are fully committed to the standardization of low-power wide-area networks. Among them, the strategy committee is in charge of the major strategic decisions of the alliance and the development of the planning alliance. The technical committee takes care of the certification and updating of technical annotations. The Accreditation Committee is responsible for the Alliance’s accreditation programs and testing specifications. The Marketing Committee is responsible for public relations, promotion, and exhibitions.

4. What is the difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN?

What is the difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN

LoRa is a communication technology that achieves long-distance coverage and low power consumption at the same time. LoRaWAN, the abbreviation of LoRa wide area network, is a communication protocol evolved by LoRa technology.

You can use LoRa technology without using LoRaWAN, but there are limitations in functionality and performance. LoRaWAN’s protocol can help build large networks on the basis of LoRa.

Generally speaking, LoRa is a physical layer transport technology that allows you to exchange information between devices. For adaptive data rates to work, symmetric uplink and downlink require adequate downlink capacity. These features make LoRaWAN have a very high capacity. The network can be deployed with minimal infrastructure, and when capacity is needed, more gateways can be added, data rates can be varied, cross-talk times can be reduced, and network capacity can be expanded by six to eight times.

5. What are the applications of LoRaWAN technology?

What are the applications of LoRaWAN technology?

First, increase production and simplify farming methods

The use of LoRaWAN for smart agriculture production has become more and more popular. Since farmers can easily visualize and monitor their crops, infrastructure, environment, and all the other things with smart sensors. So that they can make better decisions to increase efficiency and production, and simplify farming methods at the same time. IoT agricultural sensors are compact in size and can determine many parameters to understand environmental aspects. LoRaWAN is widely used in smart agriculture for its excellent ability to cover a wide arrange of rural areas, while at the same time it has low power consumption and extended battery life. Together with the LoRaWAN sensor, they can detect the soil environment and help farmers to make better crop planting decisions.

LoRaWAN gateway for smart agriculture

At present, the application of IoT-related technologies in the field of smart agriculture is rapidly emerging. Based on LoRaWAN gateways and various LoRa sensing devices, data can be quickly and effectively collected, transmitted, processed, and stored (such as monitoring plant growth-related environmental parameters); Through data analysis, farmers can take corresponding measures in a timely manner. On the other hand, since agricultural land usually lacks wired energy supply and reliable network coverage, in most cases, additional deployment of on-site connections and energy harvesting (such as solar energy) are required for Its power supply to realize information exchange between IoT nodes.

Second, accelerate urban development

LoRaWAN gateway is also widely used in urban. LoRa technology can make everyday connected lighting, waste removal, vehicle services and smarter.

LoRaWAN gateway for smart cities

The cost of LoRaWAN infrastructure is very low compared to other networks, which helps to reduce the overall cost of the smart city.

The long-distance coverage ability enables LoRaWAN technology to help cities overcome network coverage challenges. It can provide coverage that traditional Wi-Fi solutions cannot.

Applying LoRa technology to street lighting systems can minimize electricity costs, and the fact that LoRa technology targets low cost and low power consumption can make street lighting systems more widely popularized.

LoRa technology also benefits smart parking systems, where users can share parking status with any LoRa-enabled device. With the blessing of this technology, the ordinary parking behavior of the city has evolved into a smart space that detects the absence, arrival, and departure of vehicles at the same time.

LoRa technology can also be used in various urban applications such as smart sensors, smart cameras, and smart flood sensors.

Third, monitoring and tracking, so that health is more guaranteed

LoRa technology is also suitable for medical applications because of its low cost, long-distance coverage, and low power consumption. It has great benefits for improving health care and livelihoods.

For example, tracking Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in real-time. Lorawan-enabled wearables monitor Alzheimer’s patients in real-time and alert caregivers when patients leave designated safe zones to ensure maximum patient safety. LoRaWAN Gateway can also be applied to children’s wearables, and LORA-enabled bracelets and smartwatches can be used to track children’s locations. Parents can find their children the quickest time when they are in danger or accident.

LoRa technology can also be used to check the temperature of food, which can help prevent food spoilage and food waste, as well as help prevent food loss and food safety due to storage temperature.

LoRaWAN Gateway for smart healthcare

In addition to the above scenarios, LoRa technology can also be applied to smart homes, building equipment, home security, smart industry, smart metering, supply chain and logistics, and more. In addition, LoRa technology enables vehicles, cargo, trucks, and other assets to be easily monitored over large geographic areas and harsh environmental conditions due to its long-range, low-power nature and strong geo-positioning capabilities, making it easier for smart supply chains and logistics to transport high-value assets.