IOT Factory

The Internet of Things is the new Industrial Revolution. The choice of the network (or networks) of communications that will be used to allow communication between real-world objects (machines, equipment, installations, etc.) is crucial for each company. The options are numerous (M2M, WIFI, LoRaWAN, SigFox, BLE, NB-IOT, ZigBee …). All of these options have advantages and disadvantages. Among these options, the LoRaWAN data network has a peculiarity that makes it unique and, as such, particularly interesting. It is possible to deploy LoRa sensors / actuators, both on the public network of a telecom operator. Or deploy its own private network, LoRaWAN.

What is a LoRaWAN Network ?

LoRaWAN is a LPWAN – Low Power Wide Area Network – network. The objectives of these LPWAN networks are to have IOT sensors:
LoRaWAN is the main player in this market, with SigFox and RPMA (Ingenu). LoRaWAN has this feature, unlike SigFox, to allow the deployment of its own network. The only constraint is that all the nodes of the network must use the chipset of the company Semtech. Conversely, SigFox does not impose the chipset, but imposes the use of its own network, with the major constraint that if SigFox is not present in your country / region, you will not be able to use SigFox. With LoRa, you have the choice of a public network, or a private network!

The difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN?

We often hear about LoRa or LoRaWAN. While in general, both refer to the same concept, in reality, there is a fundamental difference that is often overlooked, even by technology solution providers:
  • LoRa is the “Long Range” communication technology that allows communication between 2 points (P2P – Peer-to-Peer) over long distances.
  • LoRaWAN is the network communication protocol, based on LoRa technology layer, which allows to network with a set of Base Stations
So LoRa is the specification of a long distance communication technology between 2 objects. LoRaWAN is the specification for using LoRa within a communication network between Objects and Base Stations.

Why a LoRaWAN Network ?

76 LoRaWAN public network operators in more than 100 countries. Besides that, there are tens of thousands of private LoRa networks. The motivations of a company, a public institution, or a group to deploy a private LoRa network are numerous:
  • The country, region, or environment in which you wish to deploy LoRa communicating sensors is not covered by a public LoRaWAN network. Not all countries have a LoRaWAN operator yet, and even if they are present, not all regions / locations are covered. There is indeed no obligation of the operator to cover the entire territory …
  • You deploy LoRa sensors in places that are difficult to access via a public network (deep basements, quarries, remote geographical areas, etc.)
  • You deploy a large number of LoRa sensors and you want to limit costs, especially to avoid the monthly subscriptions of a LoRa public operator
  • For security reasons, you do not want to transit data communications over the Internet, or through a public LoRa operator.
Also note … If the LoRa Alliance announced in 2018 to have conducted first roaming tests, it will probably be necessary to wait until 2019 or 2020 to see roaming offers for public LoRa networks. That is to say, to allow a LoRa sensor to be used transparently in several countries, with only one subscription / configuration. Given that the different regions of the world have regulated the LoRa frequencies differently (868 MHz in Europe, 915 MHz in the USA, …), and that the current LoRa devices (sensors, actuators) rarely support multi frequencies, a true roaming, to the image of the GSM (Smartphone), is unlikely in the coming years.

« Internet » of Things – Through Internet ?

If the term Internet of Things has become a “buzz word”, it is nevertheless bad choice. The idea behind this name probably refers to the different waves of networking (Internet connection) carried out so far:
  • Connect computers … to the Internet in the 90’s
  • Connecting people … to the Internet through their smartphone in the 2000s’
  • And now connect the physical, real world: objects, machines, tools, equipment, cities …
It is therefore good to connect. Interconnect. Internet is just one way to connect them. And precisely, by creating a private LoRa network, it is possible to connect its machines, buildings, tools … without going through the Internet.

Is it Legal ?

The LoRa communication technology is based on a free radio frequency spectrum, the ISM frequency band to be precise (Industrial, Scientific and Medical), not subject to a license. It is therefore completely legal to use this frequency band to communicate data between a sensor and a remote application. The only restriction concerns the intensity of its use. It is not allowed to use with a sensor more than 1% of the bandwidth, which technically translates in the transmission of a maximum of 140 messages of 12 bytes per day.

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