LoRa radio signals extend range and coverage through two mechanisms, a very high sensitivity on the receiver and excellent interference immunity. Most use cases are limited by distance or interference. The advantage of LoRa is that it can operate below the noise floor. This means that what appears as noise due to interference can be a recoverable signal for LoRa/LoRaWAN systems both on the LoRa frequencies as well as adjacent frequency bands.
This makes LoRa a better fit than most other RF technologies such as Wi-Fi, BLE, and proprietary long-range sub-GHZ wireless technologies for industrial applications that have significant radio frequency noise issues. It also provides better coverage in environments such as in-building and basements, where even long-range systems such as NB-IoT are unable to provide coverage — making LoRa a perfect addition to any smart building deployment.
When designing an IoT solution that can be deployed at a customer’s site, it is important to consider the potential obstacles during deployment. One of the most overlooked items is the complexity of network security policies. Connecting IoT systems to enterprise networks significantly extends deployment time, cost and operational complexity. LoRa systems with as little as a single gateway for an entire campus can be semi autonomously deployed using LTE directly to your IoT solution providers cloud application.
LoRaWAN technology leverages star topology network. It is capable of connecting thousands of nodes and processing up to 1 million messages per day. This topology using a powered gateway enables battery-powered sensors to operate many times longer than mesh topologies, where every sensor acts as both a device and a gateway.
Unlike typical mesh networks where the gateway is simply a standard sensor radio connected to the Internet, LoRa gateways are purpose built, multi-channel receivers that provide up to 512 times the capacity of a single sensor radio. This higher capacity allows a LoRaWAN network to support more devices and use cases simultaneously than other technologies, including networks that support much higher data rates like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
The economics of LoRaWAN improves as the number of devices increases per site. Utilizing more than 10 devices on a single gateway provides a better connectivity ROI than using cellular modems in each device. This also allows LoRaWAN to address use cases of extreme volume or complexity that may not be technically or economically feasible using other solutions such as cellular, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Cellular costs grow linearly with usage while the number of devices in a single location is limited to around 2000 before additional cellular base station capacity needs to be installed. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have large technical limitations on density, power consumption and range, which incurs more frequent battery changes and a 3-10x increase in the number of gateways. This makes both options less cost-effective for higher densities of sensors as well as complex enterprise and industrial locations that may need enhanced range and/or interference immunity.
Another key advantage of LoRaWAN is the ability to support devices in different modes, such as Class A battery powered devices and Class C low-latency powered devices on the same gateways. This provides support for heterogeneous use cases where battery powered sensors are providing data to powered control systems.
For example, a gas warning system that uses battery-powered gas detectors on an industrial site that is connected to powered sirens and warning lights to maintain worker safety in hazardous locations. Digi’s end-to-end LoRaWAN solution built on the X-ON cloud platform provides advanced configuration capabilities for real-time monitoring and control implementation.
Digi is expanding the Digi XBee® ecosystem of devices and gateways to support the global LoRaWAN ecosystem. This step will bring the power of globally standardized LoRaWAN to the thousands of manufacturers and industrial enterprises that utilize the XBee form factor and APIs to connect their wireless solutions.
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Ready to take your IoT solution to the next level? Digi provides a full suite of LoRaWAN products and services, including modules, gateways, X-ON cloud platform with LoRaWAN LNS and advanced cloud application engine. Digi has an experienced team of LoRaWAN professional services engineers to assist with your Industrial IoT solution development. Contact us to discuss your needs.