Low Power Wide Area Networking (LPWAN) is not a specific technology, but rather a category of technologies. It provides wireless connectivity to extremely power conscious devices in networks that can blanket everything from large facilities to entire cities. This means enabling data acquisition, providing useful controls, and generating logistical insights and actionable data. Devices that were once impractical to connect are being designed into real world systems that were mere dreams just years ago. But these devices all need a robust, reliable wireless infrastructure built on specific technologies to manage and interconnect them.
Many protocols and technologies exist in this space, trying to solve this challenge in unique ways with different strengths and weaknesses. The most promising and flexible is LoRa®, developed by the LoRa® Alliance and powered by LoRa® chipsets from Semtech. The LoRa® Alliance is a non-profit collection of companies that aims to standardize LPWAN worldwide via LoRa® technology. Version 1.0 of the LoRa® specification was released in June 2015, providing a technology with a remarkable balance when it comes to cost of deployment, flexibility, and performance. Its core strengths make it an ideal LPWAN offering for EIoT that eliminates many costs and challenges associated with provisioning such a network.
Best Balance of LPWAN Characteristics and Features
Generally, LPWAN technologies (and therefore the choice of an EIoT solution) can be thought of in terms of three primary characteristics: power consumption, range, and cost. LPWAN is meant to provide connectivity over long ranges utilizing minimal power, but figures vary among competing solutions. LoRa® provides an attractive balance between the highest and lowest of LPWAN data rates, providing a theoretical ~21.9 kbps that more than exceeds the requirements of the vast majority of LPWAN applications with overhead to spare (for example, this is nearly 40 times the maximum data rate of SIGFOX). Likewise, when compared to LTE-M cellular solutions, LoRa® provides the same or greater range and is much less expensive. In a large and competitive field of LPWAN options, LoRa® provides the surest path to success.