Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN)

Called LoRaWAN (Long Range wide-area networks), it was developed to overcome the short comings of currently available battery operated wireless and cellular communication protocol and devices; the protocols do not allow the devices to communicate over long distances cheaply.  LPWAN was developed on a new specification and protocol for low-power wide area networks that allows machine-to-machine communication over long distances.

LoRaWAN networks use a star topology with a gateway that relay messages between devices and a central network server in the backend.  Gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections while end-devices use single-hop wireless communication to one or many gateways. All end-point communication is generally bi-directional, but also supports operation such as multicast enabling software upgrade over the air or other mass distribution messages to reduce the on air communication time.

The protocol uses unlicensed wireless spectrum while offering optimal battery life.  LoRaWAN sensors can communicate over distances of more than 100 km (62 miles) in favourable environments, 15 km (9 miles) in typical semi-rural environments and more than 2 km (1.2 miles) in dense urban environments at data rates from 300 bit/s up to 100 kbit/s. This makes them well suited for sending small amounts of data, such as GPS coordinates and climate readings, where broadband can’t reach. The sensors also require very little energy to operate; most can run for 10 years or more on a single AA battery and AES128 keys make communication tampering and eavesdropping virtually impossible. LPWAN is supported by LoRa Alliance.