LoRaWAN – Bringing Unlimited Innovation to Life


Spotlight on LoRaWAN | TelecomDrive.com

LoRaWAN is a democratizing technology that can make IoT solutions available to all, especially in countries that have historically been the last to benefit from digitization. The technology has great potential to drive unprecedented innovation to life.

Donna Moore, CEO & Chairwoman, LoRa Alliance® speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the importance of connecting the unconnected and how LoRaWAN can play a critical role there.

According to you, what are the three most compelling factors that can contribute towards the success of LoRaWAN in today’s scenario?

First, LoRaWAN® is an open standard specifically developed for massive Internet of Things (IoT) applications due to the long-range, low-power consumption connectivity it provides. It has been developed by industry experts with security natively included and key components such as firmware updates over the air (FUOTA), which are critical to scale massive IoT deployments.

LoRaWAN is very cost effective to deploy and affords long battery lifetimes, so sensors in the field can remain in place for up to 10 years. A successful standard needs a robust certification program, and ours has been designed to meet the interoperability requirements of network operators and ensure that certified products are tested against the specifications so devices will perform as intended over the long term.

The LoRa Alliance® has invested heavily in the certification program thought the development of the Certification Test Tool (LCTT). The LCTT is a precertification testing tool designed for use at a device manufacturer’s own facility to pretest and prove a device design before shipping it for formal certification testing.

This benefits members by allowing full testing and regression testing of their device at their location, saving time and money by allowing them to debug and finalize their designs prior to starting the formal certification process.

Second, LoRaWAN offers flexibility in terms of deployment, which can be via public or private networks. A public network operator is any LoRaWAN network aimed to openly monetize connectivity or end-to-end services to third parties. Private LoRaWAN networks are not open to third-party monetization. In this scenario, smart cities and businesses roll out their own LoRaWAN networks to meet their specific business use case or application requirements.

There are currently more than 120 network operators providing public network coverage in more than 140 countries, but beyond this, if a public network isn’t desirable depending on the use case, a private network can be installed. This is especially useful in remote areas where cellular connectivity isn’t available or would be cost prohibitive, and we are also seeing very strong adoption of LoRaWAN for private network installation among enterprise users.

Third, LoRaWAN is an open standard, using an unlicensed spectrum (ISM band), which affords more flexibility for business models as businesses are not tied to one specific service provider. Already regarded as the de facto standard for unlicensed low power wide area networking (LPWAN), it is leading the market and is trusted by large-scale customers as proven by millions of deployed devices.

In addition, the LoRaWAN standard has been developed and deployed by our substantial ecosystem of 500+ member companies globally, which provide all of the necessary components to deploy successful IoT solutions. If someone has an application they want to bring to market or deploy in the field today, LoRaWAN is a proven standard, has the most certified devices and is supported by the most extensive ecosystem—from chip through to cloud. The variety of products and services can be found in our LoRaWAN Showcase https://lora-alliance.org/showcase.

Telecom operators and government agencies are trying their best to drive connectivity to the unconnected parts/remote areas/rural communities. How can LoRaWAN help in this direction?

LoRaWAN is the leading networking technology for rural and remote areas that are lacking cellular connectivity, as anyone can set up a LoRaWAN network in any location. Some of the strongest applications for the technology are those where no other options are available (ranches, wildlife tracking, etc.).

Compared to cellular, the equipment costs are much lower, and an end user could either set up their own network or bring in a partner from the LoRa Alliance ecosystem to set up and manage the network for them.

This allows users to take advantage of different business models, investing in capital expenditures or paying service fees, depending on their preference. Once a network is up and running, multiple applications can run simultaneously without a need to invest in additional infrastructure.

LoRaWAN can be viewed as a democratizing technology—making IoT solutions available to all, especially in countries that have historically been the last to benefit from digitization. These countries arguably could benefit the most through cost-efficient solutions that can be installed without existing wireless infrastructure. This allows these countries to make a real impact in terms of management and conservation of resources and societal benefits.

We are living in an age of NFV, where operators are openheartedly virtualizing network functions in order to do more and achieve more. However, security of networks and securing devices (end points) has always been a top priority for telecoms. How do you make sure that LoRaWAN is a secured technology? Is there anything special with this technology that can be achieved to optimize network security?

The LoRaWAN protocol is optimized for low-power consumption and is designed to support large networks with millions of devices. Innovative LoRaWAN features include support for redundant operation, geolocation, low-cost and low-power applications. Devices can even run on energy-harvesting technologies enabling the mobility and ease of use of IoT. Security is a fundamental need in all of these applications, so it has been designed into the LoRaWAN specification from the very beginning.

LoRaWAN security is designed to fit the general LoRaWAN design criteria: low-power consumption, low implementation complexity, low cost and high scalability. As devices are deployed in the field for long periods of time (years), security must be future-proof. The LoRaWAN security design adheres to state-of-the-art principles: use of standard, well-vetted algorithms and end-to-end security.

The following fundamental properties are supported in LoRaWAN security: mutual authentication, integrity protection and confidentiality. Mutual authentication is established between a LoRaWAN end device and the LoRaWAN network as part of the network join procedure. This ensures that only genuine and authorized devices will be joined to genuine and authentic networks.

LoRaWAN MAC and application messaging are origin authenticated, integrity protected, replay protected, and encrypted. This protection, combined with mutual authentication, ensures that network traffic has not been altered, is coming from a legitimate device, is not comprehensible to eavesdroppers, and has not been captured and replayed by rogue actors.

LoRaWAN security further implements end-to-end encryption for application payloads exchanged between the end devices and application servers, and is one of the few IoT networks to do so.

On the developer side, how is the organization looking to drive innovation within the develop community? And how are you engaging with the independent software vendors (ISV) communities in order to drive innovation on LoRaWAN?

The LoRa Alliance has a member ecosystem of more than 3,000 members working on behalf of our 500+ member companies and institutions, from chip to cloud, that supports customers and developers alike. Additionally, there are thousands of developers worldwide using LoRaWAN and driving innovation across our ecosystem. Our ecosystem engages with the developer community to understand their needs and identify how the LoRa Alliance can support them as they develop solutions using the LoRaWAN protocol.

We host and facilitate workshops around the world, as we recently did in India, with member-driven workshops during LoRaWAN Live. There’s no question that software has a key position in solution development, and we work to provide resources and access to the expertise they need to drive innovation.

What kind of future-ready and society-friendly innovations can we expect from LoRaWAN in the coming years?

The applications that can benefit from LoRaWAN are virtually endless, I’m constantly amazed at the new ideas our members bring forth that will have a meaningful impact on people, animals and the planet. As society looks to make cities smart, the technology can be leveraged to monitor infrastructure, prevent leaks and accidents, improve water and air quality, and conserve precious resources through water, soil and air monitoring.

Just one example from Japan is that utilities there have implemented LoRaWAN sensors that, when they sense movement of the earth that foreshadows an earthquake, a LoRaWAN message is automatically sent out to shut off all the gas meters, preventing explosions. In India, a solution was recently implemented to track tigers so that forest rangers and people living in villages near to their habitat can know where they are, preventing injury or death for both humans and tigers.

In terms of cities, LoRaWAN can be used to control lights to keep citizens safe, monitor building occupancy to save resources, ease traffic congestion by making parking easy. As I said, the use cases are truly endless for how LoRaWAN can be used to improve the daily life of the planet’s citizens and the health of the planet itself.