Thu, 01 Dec 2022

LoRa Technology (short for long range) is a long range, low power wireless platform that has become the platform of Internet of Things (IoT). LoRa devices and networks such as the LoRaWAN enable smart IoT applications that solve some of the biggest challenges facing our planet: energy management, natural resource reduction, pollution control, and disaster prevention.

Both LoRa Wan and NB-IoT are LPWAN technologies that have been developed to enable low-power, wide-area communication for Internet of Things devices. However, there are some key differences between the two protocols that you should be aware of before choosing which one is right for your project. In this article, we will take a closer look at both LoRa Wan and NB-IoT, and compare their features and benefits. We will also discuss the applications each technology is best suited for, so you can decide which one fits your needs.

What Is LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN is a low-power wide area network (LP-WAN) protocol that enables wireless devices to communicate with each other over long distances. The technology uses an unlicensed radio spectrum in the sub gigahertz range, which can be found throughout Europe and Australia among other places; it also operates at 868MHz for North America or 915 MHz if you're looking further south where there's more room on these frequencies than what was initially allocated by ITU Region 1 Benelux Africa.

How Does LoRaWAN Work?

LoRaWAN employs spread spectrum modulation techniques derived from chirp spread spectrum (CSS) technology. A CSS signal uses a pseudorandom noise code to spread its energy over a wide frequency range. This results in a very low power spectral density, which allows the signal to travel further while using less power. Additionally, because the receiver knows the code used by the transmitter, it can easily filter out other sources of interference.

LoRaWan devices come in classes A, B, and C. Class A devices are powered continuously and can receive downlink messages at any time. Class B devices are powered intermittently and can only receive downlink messages when they are 'awake.' Class C devices are powered continuously but can only receive downlink messages when they are transmitting an uplink message.

What Is NB-IoT?

The Internet of Things is coming to your home! This new technology, NB-IoT will make communicating between devices faster and more reliable. It's a low-power wide area network (LPWAN) that has been specifically designed for IoT applications—perfect if you're looking into installing something like motion sensors or smart water meters in the future.

One of the main benefits of NB-IoT is its low power consumption, which makes it ideal for IoT devices that need to operate for long periods on limited power sources such as batteries. NB-IoT also offers enhanced security and reliability, thanks to its use of a licensed spectrum, which helps to protect against interference from unlicensed users. And because it's based on LTE, NB-IoT can offer high data rates and low latency, making it suitable for applications that require low data rates but still need timely responses such as smart meters or security sensors.

How Does NB-IoT Work?

NB-IoT devices connect to the network using a special kind of LTE known as In-Band Signaling (In-Band LTE or In-Band NB1). In-Band Signaling uses the same frequencies as regular LTE data packets, but with different time slots and lower data rates. This allows NB-IoT devices to coexist with regular LTE devices on the same network without interfering with each other.

The NB-IoT protocol is an umbrella term for several different types of signals that work together to provide low power and data rates. The most popular way these technologies are used now, though it was originally designed as part of the LTE mobile telecommunication system, has more features than necessary in IoT applications like environmental monitoring equipment—making them simpler without sacrificing performance or battery life!

Finally, NB-IoT supports both device-to-device (D2D) and device-to-network (D2N) connectivity. D2D allows two NB-IoT devices to communicate with each other without going through a base station. D2N allows an NB-IoT device to connect to an IP network, such as the Internet, using a base station.

Key Differences between LoRaWan and NB-IoT

  • Protocol: LoRaWan was designed specifically for IoT applications while NB-IoT was intended as an extension to existing cellular networks.
  • Frequency Bands: LoRaWan operates in the unlicensed ISM band while NB-IoT operates in the licensed spectrum.
  • Base Stations: LoRaWAN requires multiple base stations to cover a large area while NB-IoT only requires one base station per coverage area.
  • Security: Because it uses a licensed spectrum, NB-IoT offers higher security than LoRaWAN.
  • Reliability: Again, because it uses a licensed spectrum, NB-IoT offers higher reliability than LoRaWAN.
  • Capacity: LoRaWAN has a higher capacity than NB-IoT because it can support more devices per base station.
  • Latency: NB-IoT has lower latency than LoRaWAN because it uses cellular networks which are designed for real-time communication.
  • User plane/control plane: In LoRaWAN, the user plane and the control plane are separate while in NB-IoT they are combined.
  • Mobility: Because it uses cellular networks, NB-IoT supports mobility while LoRaWAN does not.
  • Advantages of LoRaWan over NB-IoT

  • LoRaWan has a longer range than NB-IoT. This is because LoRa signals can be sent on multiple channels, which means that there is less chance of interference. In addition, LoRaWan uses frequency hopping, which further increases its range.
  • LoRaWan is more energy efficient than NB-IoT. This is because LoRaWan gateways can be placed further apart, which means that each device doesn't have to transmit as often. In addition, LoRaWan signals are sent at lower power than NB-IoT signals.
  • LoRaWan supports more devices than NB-IoT. This is because LoRaWan supports multiple channels and uses frequency hopping, which means that each device doesn't have to transmit as often.
  • LoRaWan has lower latency than NB-IoT. This is because the data packets are smaller in size and the signaling method is different.
  • LoRaWan is more secure than NB-IoT. This is because LoRaWan devices use encryption by default and the data packets are small, which makes it more difficult for attackers to intercept and inject malicious data.
  • LoRaWan is more flexible than NB-IoT. This is because LoRaWan devices can be used in a variety of applications, such as point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and mesh networks.
  • LoRaWan has better scalability than NB-IoT. This is because LoRaWan gateways can be connected using Ethernet or WiFi, which means that they can be deployed in a variety of environments.
  • LoRaWan has better coverage than NB-IoT. This is because LoRa has a longer range and can penetrate through walls and other obstacles.
  • LoRaWan gateways are cheaper than NB-IoT gateways. This is because LoRa has fewer components and uses an unlicensed spectrum, which means that it doesn't require a costly license from the government.
  • LoRaWan has been around longer than NB-IoT. This means that it has had more time to mature and more vendors are offering its products and services.
  • The Things Network offers free and open-source software for deploying LoRawan networks, which makes it easy for anyone to get started with building their own IoT applications.
  • NB-IoT is still an emerging technology, which means that there are still some kinks that need to be worked out.
  • The Advantages of NB-IoT over LoRaWan

    1- Energy Efficiency

    NB-IoT devices can transmit at much lower power levels than LoRaWAN devices. This means that NB-IoT devices can run for years on a single battery. In contrast, LoRaWAN devices typically need to be recharged or replaced every few months. The lower power consumption of NB-IoT devices also means that they generate less heat, which can be important in applications where temperature needs to be controlled (e.g., in food storage applications).

    2- Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum

    The use of NB-IoT in both licensed and unlicensed spectrums allows for an increased level of reliability when compared to LoRaWAN which can only be deployed within the latter category. In addition, some countries/regions have regulations requiring LPWans to be deployed using their designated frequency bands (e.g. South Korea).

    3-Better Indoor Coverage

    NB-IoT has better indoor coverage than LoRaWAN due to its higher transmit power and smaller cell size. This is important for applications where devices need to be able to communicate indoors (e.g. in smart buildings).

    LoRaWan and NB-IoT are two of the most popular LPWAN technologies. They both have their benefits and drawbacks. NB-IoT has a better range and can penetrate buildings better than LoRaWan. However, LoRaWan is more efficient with data transmission, meaning more data can be sent over a long distance using less bandwidth. If there is a need for long-range coverage, high data rates, low latency, or low energy consumption, then LoRa is the right choice. If short-range coverage or high energy consumption is needed, then NB-IoT is the right choice. The final decision on which technology to use will depend on specific needs and requirements.

    Author: Eli(Elnaz) Sadafi, IoT design engineer @ Arshon technology.

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