Using LoRaWAN for Connecting IoT Devices

When it comes to connecting devices to your business network, most people know about hardwired connectivity and wireless technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth. A newer option is gaining popularity for certain types of applications—primarily for connecting battery-powered Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the Internet. It is called LoRaWAN, and it stands for “long-range wide area network”. LoRaWAN technology uses a specific radio frequency communication technique that allows it to transmit small amounts of data over long distances. Learning more about this up-and-coming technology will help you to determine whether it might be a good future addition to the bundle of business IT services used by your company.

What is LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN defines a software communication protocol and system architecture that uses a spread spectrum radio signal to transmit data over up to 15km using very little power. It was first developed and patented in 2015 by Cycleo and was then later acquired by Semtech. Today its continued development and management is handled by the LoRa Alliance, which is a non-profit.

Historically, the focus of much of the networking technology research being conducted has been on supporting higher and higher transmission speeds, and with good reason. Applications continue to require more and more data for things like voice and video streaming, transmitting large files, and dealing with increases in network traffic due to the growing number of users.

With the growth of IoT devices, however, having a lower power, long-range networking option is extremely important. Most of these devices are battery powered sensors tracking different types of data in order to improve the management of resources, identification of problems, etc.

Applications Using LoRaWAN

For example, if you wanted to conserve energy in a building, you could monitor the temperature and occupancy in each room in the building by installing temperature and infrared sensors in them. With such a setup, you could save energy by setting rooms up with these sensors so that light switches, heating and cooling equipment in those rooms are turned off when the room is not in use.

Transmission of sensor data in applications like this does not need to be performed continuously–maybe only once every few minutes. The small amount of data being transmitted each time (temperature and occupancy data), and the fact that the data does not need to be transmitted continuously allows you to do this with very little energy expenditure.

Sensors and monitors connected to an IoT network can be useful in many other types of applications and industries. For example, they are currently very popular in health care. Hospitals, senior care homes, and other healthcare facilities can put monitoring devices for a patient or resident on a LoRaWAN network and transmit data either on a set schedule, or only when the results fall outside of a specific range. This approach can provide better tracking of things like vital signs and improve treatment outcomes without a lot of manual monitoring. Being able to do this wirelessly can also give the patients the option to move around. Remotely monitoring battery operated implanted devices on a low power LoRaWAN network can reduce or even remove the need for in-person office visits for data collection. If the devices are low power, it also means that device batteries can be replaced less frequently.

Advantages of LoRaWAN

There are many advantages to using LoRaWAN for connecting certain types of devices on your network, including the following:

  • Low Power Consumption – LoRaWAN technology requires very little power, making it very cost effective. This includes power consumption during Idle and Sleep states.
  • Low Maintenance Costs – The low power consumption of this technology reduces maintenance costs by reducing the frequency with which batteries need to be replaced. Having a technician replace batteries can be costly and time-consuming, so not having to replace batteries very often saves money.
  • Long Range – With a range of up to 15 kilometers, this communication method is far better than WiFi and can even outperform most types of wired connections.
  • Uses Unlicensed Spectrum – Since LoRaWAN uses the part of the RF spectrum that is unlicensed, you can set up your own network at lower cost compared to competing protocols such as NB-IOT.
  • Mobility – devices on a LoRaWAN network do not need to be stationary

What is LoRaWAN Used For Today?

LoRaWAN is used in many applications today. They currently include:

  • Smart Homes & Buildings
    • Temperature and Humidity Monitoring
    • Room Occupancy
    • Motion Detection
    • Smart Water Metering
    • Fire, flood, CO/CO2 level Monitoring, access control monitoring, Smart Electricity Metering
  • Smart Health Care
    • Monitor vital signs for high-risk patients in hospitals, senior care facilities, high performance athletes

Adding LoRaWAN to Your Business Network

Setting up your LoRaWAN and devices is something that needs to be done correctly in order to avoid problems. Working with an experienced business IT services partner will allow you to plan out how you can take advantage of this technology. Contact the IT experts at GSDSolutions if you need help setting up this technology or any IoT network. We are a leading Bay Area IT support provider and we are ready to assist you with all your technology needs.

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