what is LoRa? - Black keyhole

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what is LoRa?

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LoRa is one of the most widely deployed IoT network (apart from SigFox). It operates in the unlicensed band which is 868 Mhz in Europe and 915 Mhz in the US, in India it operates on mainly 3 channel frequencies (865.0625 MHz, 865.4025 MHz, 865.9850 MHz).
The topology employed is star topology where the gateway acts as the central node and the devices act as the end-nodes with a central network server at the backend.
LoRa is the physical layer enabling long range communication link, whereas LoRaWAN defines the communication protocol and system architecture for the network. LoRa is a modulation technique which is based on Chirp Spread Spectrum technology which also integrates Forward Error correction.
Following is a basic architecture of the LoRaWAN implementation.
Image source: Google Images

 LoRa Technology enables smart IoT applications that solve some of the biggest challenges facing our planet: energy management, natural resource reduction, pollution control, infrastructure efficiency, disaster prevention, and more. Semtech’s LoRa Technology has amassed over 600 known uses cases for smart cities, smart homes and buildings, smart agriculture, smart metering, smart supply chain and logistics, and more. With over 50 million devices connected to networks in 95 countries and growing, LoRa Technology is the DNA of IoT, creating a Smarter Planet.

What is LoRaWAN?
The LoRaWAN open specification is a low power, wide area networking (LPWAN) protocol based on LoRa Technology. Designed to wirelessly connect battery operated things to the Internet in regional, national or global networks, the LoRaWAN protocol leverages the unlicensed radio spectrum in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band. The specification defines the device-to-infrastructure of LoRa physical layer parameters and the LoRaWAN protocol, and provides seamless interoperability between devices. While Semtech provides the radio chips featuring LoRa Technology, the LoRa Alliance, a non-profit association and the fastest growing technology alliance, drives the standardization and global harmonization of the LoRaWAN protocol.

What is the difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN?

LoRa refer to a wireless modulation allowing a low power high radio budget communication.
LoRaWAN refer to a network protocol using LoRa chips for the communication. It relies on basestation able to monitor 8 frequencies with multiple spread factors (virtually ~42 channels).
It is possible to use LoRa modulation in point to point or star networks without using LoRaWAN.
It could be possible to have LoRaWAN like network with other radio link, but wouldn’t be really practical.

 Is LoRaWAN the future of IoT?

LoRaWAN may be a "part" of the future of IoT. It is not the only future since other Wireless Protocols especially cellular will remain pervasive.
First off - LoRaWAN is a specific offering of a Wireless Wide Area Network (e.g. Cellular Data networks - 3G/LTE etc. or WiMax). However it belongs to a class of networks that require low power in comparison. The "Lo" standards Low Power. LoRa, specifically technology pushed by a semiconductor company Semtech. They make the radio behind LoRa.
Other companies that is rolling out networks similar to LoRa (at least in concept/economics not necessarily the radio technology) is SigFox.
Technologies from SigFox and LoRa address the "simple device, need very long battery life, require limited bandwidth" type of IoT market.


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