What is LoRa?
LoRa stands for long range. And LoRa’s got a very long list of things going for it.
It’s a low power wireless network protocol—but what it lacks in power, it more than makes up for in range. It’s got very few barriers to entry. And last but not least, it’s one of the only connectivity options with an entire international body dedicated to it.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes LoRa IoT awesome.
Long range, low power, and a whole lot of battery life
Boasting massive ranges between transmitter and receiver, LoRa lives up to its namesake with flying colours. While mileage can differ depending on urban density or tree cover, LoRa transmissions generally reach a range anywhere between 10-50km².
And its battery life is ridiculously good; because they use less computing power than cellular, most LoRa IoT devices don’t need to have their batteries changed or charged for 10+ years.
The tradeoff of this range is that LoRa can only handle incredibly small amounts of data at a time. When you hear ‘maximum bandwidth of 32 kbit/s’, you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘no thank you, I do not want speeds that rival the dial-up modem I grew up with’.
But its low speeds don’t take LoRa out of the game. Far from it: LoRa is perfect for IoT solutions that need to transmit sensor data, control devices, activate alarms, or monitor physical conditions.
And where necessary, you can use messaging protocols like MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) to help with communications, if it’s important for your LoRa devices to deliver messages.
Sure, you can’t use it to stream HD video. But it’s unbeatable when it comes to solutions like:
LoRa’s range and staying power make it great for monitoring wildlife locations over time, whether you’re a cattle farmer or a reindeer conservationist.
Drainage systems that measure water depth and silt levels are hugely important when it comes to city planning, resource efficiency, and flood mitigation. Drains across an entire city can easily be linked to a single LoRa network—especially with the ground and wall-piercing qualities of the low, long wavelength LoRa operates over.
Exit signs in buildings tend to show the way to the nearest exit; which, in the case of some building fires, may lead evacuees straight to a hazard zone. LoRa’s range and energy efficiency mean that even if power goes out in the building, smart exit signs will stay functioning, and lead evacuees only to the safest, quickest exit.
Ease of use
Of all the connectivity types, LoRa is one of the easiest to get up and running; especially compared to its competition, Sigfox and NB-IoT. This is for two reasons:
- Its massive range and penetrative wavelength makes deployment very simple. For example: a few well-placed antennas could easily cover all of London.
- Unlike Sigfox and NB-IoT, LoRa is open-source. You don’t need to deal with acquiring licensing from an operator, or slotting your solution into their network; anyone can set up a LoRa network using off-the-shelf hardware. Whether you buy or build your device, you can set up your own network for it to operate over; or you can even use a provider’s outsourced network. Options a-plenty, barriers a-none!
When it comes down to it, developing your own LoRa IoT solution is more like programming an application than engineering a network.
Semtech and the LoRa Alliance
Developed by Semtech, LoRa comes in the form of chips that are installed in devices for deployment. Sensors, water meters, actuators, you name it; the LoRa chipset is compatible with just about everything out there.
And the LoRa Alliance are a global, nonprofit organization who work to ensure that it remains open spec and device-compatible. Launched back at the Mobile World Congress of 2015, they’re now over 500 members strong and still growing, with key players like IBM, Cisco, and HP lending their expertise and support to the LoRa cause.
Long story short, LoRa has a lot of fans.
In the IoT story that’s unfolding across the world, LoRa plays a key role, right up there with cellular and Wi-Fi. With its wide, sweeping connectivity and accessibility for businesses, it’s going to be a cornerstone of the smart cities and farms of tomorrow.
If you want to get your foot in the door now, drop us a line. From LoRa and Sigfox to cellular and satellite, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to help you carve out a spot in the world’s fastest growing sector.