Loriot’s co-founder Julian Studer explains why LoRa is moving the needle in connecting devices and sensors
The Internet of Things is a constantly evolving physical entity, and companies are clamoring to embrace it. Although traditional networking hardware powers most of these networks, the unique demands of IoT infrastructure means specialised hardware can offer even better performance. LoRa, which stands for Long-Range Radio, aims to fill this niche and is widely seen as the leading standard for IoT connectivity.
What is LoRa?
At its core, LoRa is a wireless communication standard developed by Semtech Corporation. By using frequency modulation, LoRa communication builds upon tested and well-understood wireless technology in a manner that’s optimised for IoT applications. Semtech isn’t alone in supporting LoRa; IBM and HPE, among others, are supporting the technology’s development.
LoRa’s Range Advantage
IoT networks are often constrained physically, as it’s often not practical to run networking wires to certain locations. Furthermore, more common wireless technologies offer severely limited range. LoRa addresses this concern by covering large areas. In urban environments, ranges of 5 to 10 kilometers are realistic, and flat rural coverage can easily reach up to 30 kilometers. The distributed nature of IoT networks means devices can serve multiple functions, so LoRa devices can also serve as repeaters to cover especially large areas.
“You get very long ranges,” says Julian Studer, co-founder of LoRa specialists Loriot. “We have been testing it with results of up to 280km.”
As long as you have a direct route from the gateway to the sensor you nearly have unlimited connectivity.
Loriot’s live Network Planner Tool (screenshot below) shows exactly how far the LoRa connectivity has the potential to reach. We spoke to Julian in depth about LoRa and some of the use-cases for this groundbreaking technology. Listen below
Long Range, Low Power
The other primary design goal of LoRa technology is battery life. In many environments, it’s simply impractical to run power to sensors and other IoT devices. By focusing on low energy usage, LoRa devices can operate with little human interaction. Low power consumption means information can be sent more frequently, leading to better responsiveness within IoT networks. Efficiency also means solar power is even more effective at keeping batteries charged.
While LoRa is an appealing technology already finding its way into certain fields, it faces some tough competition. 3GPP technology, already available to some companies, relies on mobile data connectivity to send data. Furthermore, competitors to LoRa are being developed, and newer technology might provide some advantages over LoRa.
A Lasting Technology
Despite potential limits, LoRa is being adopted widely and will remain an important IoT technology, especially in certain fields. Municipalities, for example, have to manage large areas and places where internet and power connectivity isn’t possible; LoRa fills this niche well. Agricultural entities face similar challenges, and the range of LoRa means even the largest farms can have a cohesive IoT network. Although newer technologies might provide some advantages over LoRa in the future, the cost of LoRa is low enough that it will be difficult to undercut significantly. As the first technology of its kind moving into certain niches, LoRa will likely be hard to supplant in the future.
We spoke to Loriot as part of our series of content with Cloud28+ members. Cloud28+, cited as the world’s leading cloud aggregator by 451 Research, has over 500 members working together to bring a wide variety of expertise to large scale digital transformation projects globally.