Sigfox, Wi-Fi, or LoRa? Apart from these four types of networks, there are many other network technologies, and it can be difficult making choice about which one to choose. We always have time to talk to potential customers about which technology they should consider depending on the purpose and IoT devices. In this blog, you can read more about when it may be a good idea for you to use LoRa, pros and cons of the network and what type of technology we have chosen to use at TrapMe.
LoRa is one of the technologies sending large amounts of data over wide distances, and therefore it is also goes by the name of LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network), as opposed to the WiFi solution, which is a Local Area Network. NB-IoT and LTE-M are also LPWAN technologies, that use their own mobile cellular network for communicating data, whereas LoRa is ‘it’s own’ (non-cellular) network. A LoRa IoT network consists of 4 elements; sensors/devices, gateways, network server, and an application server. An IoT product can send/receive signals to/from the LoRa gateways. The signals move forward to the network server, and then they are decoded and sent to a data management system. The user constantly has an overview of all the data and what it means. If your IoT products need to measure the amount of precipitation in an area, if you work with energy steering, environmental control, or surveillance, then LoRa might be a good solution. In this case, there is no need to send large amounts of data.
One of the great advantages of LoRa is that the battery life of the IoT devices are often up to 10 years, and it can therefore be a cheaper solution than for instance Wi-Fi in some cases. Your IoT devices can also be moved around more easily as opposed to a Wi-Fi solution. However, LoRa can be a troublesome and expensive solution in terms of setup and maintenance. LoRa requires gateways in order to strengthen the signal, but you will still not get the same coverage as with the GSM network. LoRa requires gateways in order to strengthen the signal, but it is not always possible to get quite the same coverage as with the GSM network.
A gateway for LoRa can send a signal in a range of about 15 km in rural areas and in urban areas down to 1-3 km. You can also connect to already existing LoRa networks and use their gateways. You just need to register your IoT devices with a connectivity partner of the network, and then you can gain regional coverage. In minor countries, you may also be able to find small vendors with a connectivity partner covering the entire country. However, in large countries, it might not be the same partners who cover the entire country. Therefore, it can be difficult getting your IoT devices from one network to a new one if you move the devices. LoRa is best suitable for stationary IoT devices and does not need to send continuous data, and therefore, if you need to track your things, LoRa is not a good choice.
In order to sum up a few benefits and challenges of LoRa:
- A cheap solution when it is up and running compared to other IoT devices
- Long battery life
- IoT devices can be moved to a different location
- You can create your own LoRa network and thereby have 100% control of your data
- Data security – requires a key to gain access to the network
- Can require more gateways in order to get the best coverage if you choose to create your own network
- It can not roam between various network providers unless you choose to not create your own network
- Can provide few seconds of delays
Which network technology is TrapMe using?
Are the TrapMe traps using the LoRa network? Our traps are using an LPWA network, but it is not LoRa, as it does not fit our product and purpose. LoRa would require too many resources for us as well as our customers for setting up and maintaining the network. The TrapMe traps have an e-SIM card and use the GSM technology to find the strongest and it has better coverage than LoRa. Thereby, we can ensure that the TrapMe traps report on a catch by sending an alarm 24/7.
As mentioned previously, TrapMe is not using LoRa, but for other IoT devices, LoRa might be the right choice. Are you running a business in a few countries, and do your devices only need to send small amounts of data over large distances? Consider whether LoRa could be the right choice for you. It is possible to change the locations on your IoT devices with LoRa, and the batteries can last for many years. In other cases, LoRa can create too many obstacles, just to take our TrapMe trap as an example, then the GSM technology is a better choice. In your case, the right choice of technology might be different.