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Amphenol RF SMA Connector :Internet of Things LPWAN rivals look to LoRa to strengthen its advantages and seek breakthrough in Shenzhen

  • Categories:News Center
  • Time of issue:2021-01-11 16:15
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(Summary description)As the Internet of Things (IoT) technology has received high attention in recent years, it is familiar with many technologies and related technologies such as Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), LTE-M (Long Term Evolution, Category M1), Wi-SUN and Sigfox Promotion alliances are competing in the market, and LoRa technology has a lot of deployment and attention around the world. The following is a detailed introduction to the development and promotion of LoRa technology.

Amphenol RF SMA Connector :Internet of Things LPWAN rivals look to LoRa to strengthen its advantages and seek breakthrough in Shenzhen

(Summary description)As the Internet of Things (IoT) technology has received high attention in recent years, it is familiar with many technologies and related technologies such as Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), LTE-M (Long Term Evolution, Category M1), Wi-SUN and Sigfox Promotion alliances are competing in the market, and LoRa technology has a lot of deployment and attention around the world. The following is a detailed introduction to the development and promotion of LoRa technology.

  • Categories:News Center
  • Author:Huang Jingmao
  • Origin:
  • Time of issue:2021-01-11 16:15
  • Views:
RF SMA Connector

As the Internet of Things (IoT) technology has received high attention in recent years, it is familiar with many technologies and related technologies such as Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), LTE-M (Long Term Evolution, Category M1), Wi-SUN and Sigfox Promotion alliances are competing in the market, and LoRa technology has a lot of deployment and attention around the world. The following is a detailed introduction to the development and promotion of LoRa technology.
With the rapid development of network technology, as the demand for device communication has been paid a lot of attention, the long-distance low-power wide-area network in the communication field developed with less bandwidth, low power consumption, long distance and a large number of device connection requirements ( Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) has developed significantly, and these technologies based on the free frequency band Sub-1GHz operation are rapidly emerging. 
Know the LoRa chip/LoRaWAN communication protocol 

Semtech announced the launch of a series of LPWAN chips based on Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS) modulation in August 2013, named LoRa. The name comes from the English abbreviation of Long Range, and its excellent transmission distance It is very impressive. 

Figure 1 LoRa waveform of each bandwidth setting under the spectrum analyzer
CSS adopts chirp spread spectrum modulation technology, which retains the low power consumption characteristics of the original Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) technology but significantly increases the transmission distance. The main characteristic data are: excellent -148dBm receiving sensitivity (RF Sensitivity) and 168dB link budget (Link Budget); radio frequency (RF) output power is +14~+20dBm, built-in amplifier; receiving operating current 9.9 milliseconds Ampere (mA); supports FSK, On-off Keying (OOK) and other modulation operations; automatic radio frequency carrier (RF Carrier) detection; data transmission rate: 0.29~37kbps, using bandwidth of 125k, 250k and 500kHz (Figure 1). 
At the same time, Shengte established the LoRa Alliance, an alliance organization that connects industrial cooperation and ecosystem based on the promotion of LoRa applications. The current alliance members cover more than 500 companies. Including IBM, Cisco (Cisco), Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), Shengte, STMicroelectronics (ST) and other large enterprises, as well as Orange, SK, Royal Dutch Telecom (KPN), DoCoMo, Software Bank (Softbank), Telecom operators such as Asia Pacific Telecom. The main work of the alliance is to develop a common open source communication protocol LoRaWAN, so that devices of various related manufacturers can communicate with each other to expand the scope of applications and eliminate geographic restrictions. 

Two-sided disassembly of LoRaWAN 

LoRaWAN technology can be simply summarized into two aspects: 

The first aspect is from the perspective of physical network infrastructure deployment and device relationships. LoRa technology is based on the Star network topology (Figure 2). Table 1 summarizes the equipment and functions required by the current LoRa network. 

Figure 2 LoRaWAN network architecture

The second aspect is the LoRaWAN communication protocol. As shown in Table 2, the current communication between the terminal device and the gateway is divided into three categories based on the behavior mode of the media access control (MAC) layer. In the communication protocol, the data transmission direction of the star topology is divided into Uplink and Downlink. The upstream represents the device sending data to the gateway, and vice versa, the downstream represents the gateway sending data to the device. Figure 3 briefly describes the sending and receiving behaviors of these three categories. 

Brief introduction of LoRaWAN device startup network access method 
The type of operation of the device during transmission has been explained before, and then it will be explained how LoRaWAN accepts and activates the network access mechanism of the transmitted data. This part can be considered as a confirmation mechanism for the legality of the device. 

Figure 3 Illustration of the operation diagram of LoRaWAN terminal device category
There are currently two startup methods, namely ABP (Activation By Personalization) and OTAA (On The Air Activiation). The individual details are shown in Figure 4. 

Figure 4 LoRaWAN device provides ABP and OTAA two ways to start the network
LoRaWAN certification status description 
In order to realize the compatibility of a large number of IoT devices in the future, the LoRa Alliance has formulated unified communication specifications for each region or country to enable the interoperability of LoRaWAN devices produced by manufacturers in different countries in each region. These regional specifications are based on various The LPWAN wireless frequency band safety regulations of the country are formulated. This standard specification is compiled in the LoRaWAN document Regional Parameters, and the latest version is v1.1. Table 3 is a brief description of the current national or regional channel specifications stipulated by the LoRa Alliance. 

Next, we will further explain the main regional specifications such as EU868, US915, AS923 and CN470. At present, most countries use multi-specification for free frequency bands in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency band or the radio frequency identification (RFID) frequency band. The introduction of each region will be based on the frequency band and channel used in each region. Information, transmission rate and safety regulations and other key items are organized and explained. 
EU 863-870MHz ISM band 

The frequency band is based on the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) [EN300.220] ISM specification, and the European Union (EU) adopts the 868~870MHz frequency band. The channels are as shown in Table 4. The European LoRa specification mandates three channels, while at least 16 channels are used under the ESTI specification. As for the safety regulations, a duty cycle (Duty Cycle) method is used to limit the time spent on channels. 

US 902-928 ISM band 
In terms of frequency bands, based on the FCC Part.15 specification, LoRa uses 902~928MHz. The channel part is shown in Figure 5. There are sixty-four 125kHz channels and eight 500kHz channels in the upstream, and eight 500kHz channels in the downstream. Its transmission rate is up to 0.98~5kbps, and for the safety part, the channel occupies a limit of 400msec (FHSS frequency hopping system). 

Figure 5 US915 channel specification
AS923 ISM band 
The frequency bands are shown in Table 5. All countries in the AS923 area use the same mandatory frequency channels. LoRa mostly uses the 920~928MHz frequency band. Sorted by country as follows: Brunei (Brunei) 923~925MHz, Cambodia (Cambodia) 923~925MHz, Indonesia (Indonesia) 923~925MHz, Japan 920~928MHz, Laos (Laos) 923~925MHz, New Zealand 915~ 928MHz, Singapore 920~925MHz, Taiwan 920~925MHz, Thailand 920~925MHz and Vietnam (Vietnam) 920~925MHz. 

In terms of channels, the number and frequency of channels used vary according to the safety regulations of each country. In the safety regulations, the channel usage mechanism of Taiwan NCC follows the spirit of the Federal Telecommunications Commission (FCC) in the United States, and some countries adopt Duty Cycle regulations. 
CN 470-510MHz frequency band 

In terms of frequency bands, based on China's State Radio Regulatory Commission (SRRC) specifications, LoRa uses 470~510MHz, and its frequency channels are shown in Figure 6. There are 96 125kHz channels in the uplink and 48 125kHz channels in the downlink. Its transmission rate is between 0.25~5kbps, and for safety regulations, the channel occupancy time cannot be greater than 5,000msec. 

Figure 6 CN470 standard channel
LoRaWAN system integration case analysis description  
The LoRaWAN architecture and various protocol specifications have been introduced above, and then a simple LoRaWAN network construction is used as an example of Proof Of Concept (POC) for LPWAN practical applications. As shown in Figure 2 above, a LoRa network can be a carrier-level LoRa infrastructure for telecom operators such as Asia Pacific Telecom, or it can be deployed based on a single area, factory, community, or family. The characteristics of this part are At present, NB-IoT and other third-generation partnership projects (3GPP) have made agreements that are relatively difficult to implement. Table 6 lists the equipment list required for this basic construction. 

For the gateway part, there are currently many manufacturers at home and abroad to choose from, and many manufacturers provide gateway products with built-in servers. The basic hardware equipment is mostly: the number of uplink support channels is eight or sixteen, the downlink channel is one to two channels, with Ethernet or wireless local area network (Wi-Fi) interface, or supporting global satellite positioning system (GPS) and 3G/4G network card expansion. Most of the software part supports UDP Packet Forwarder, MQTT, RESTful and other communication protocols, and provides external servers or applications for data access. Most outdoor gateways are equipped with high-gain antennas and waterproof functions. 
In terms of modules, LoRaWAN devices currently have two major categories on the market, namely COB (Chip On Board) modules and SiP (System in Package) designs that are stacked and packaged through die. SiP is a design in which dies such as LoRa chip, microprocessor (MCU) and even GPS chip are packaged into a single chip through three-dimensional (3D) stacking. The biggest advantage of this type of design is that the size of the entire product is greatly reduced, and the application The product design is relatively streamlined and simple. Figure 7 makes a simple comparison of the size and appearance of modules on the market and SiP modules, and we can see the difference in physical size between the two. 

Figure 7 On the left is Microchip's RN2903 LoRa module with dimensions of 17.8 mm (mm) × 26.7 mm × 3.34 mm, and on the right is the Qunden LoRa SiP module with dimensions of 11 mm × 13 mm × 1.1 mm.
Constructing a LoRaWAN network architecture at the POC stage is not as complicated and difficult as imagined. Through multiple gateways with built-in servers from domestic and foreign manufacturers with AcSiP's LoRa smart building blocks based on the Arduino platform, or any terminal device compatible with the LoRaWAN protocol, a regional LoRaWAN network can be quickly constructed through Arduino The platform's abundant sensor support devices and the software resources of a huge community can quickly build application architecture prototypes to verify various IoT applications. 
As shown in Figure 8, through a simple gateway installation and a personal computer (PC) or server to build a landing LoRa network, the terminal device sends the sensor data to the indoor or indoor type through the LoRa radio frequency. Outdoor gateway; at the application level, data can be accessed and stored on the gateway through the software setup of a PC or server, and it can also send control packets to the device through the gateway to construct a complete two-way transmission network. 

Currently, gateways with built-in servers are very common and support multiple IoT data access protocols, such as MQTT and RESTful API based on the TCP/IP protocol that has become the International Standards Organization (ISO) standard. These protocols can be combined with intuitive development tools such as Python or Node-RED to quickly construct various application scenarios and architectures. 

Take Qundeng’s LoRa smart building block sales kit as an example. In the gateway part of Figure 8, you can freely choose to match the products of two indoor LoRa gateway manufacturers. The terminal part of the kit is based on the Arduino processor platform and is built-in Sensor devices such as temperature, humidity, and three-axis accelerator are installed. At the same time, many peripheral interfaces and general-purpose input/output (GPIO) are reserved so that users can easily integrate various required sensors. A battery is also attached to facilitate data collection in an environment where power is not convenient. 

Figure 8 LoRaWAN network architecture at the POC stage
Figure 9 shows an example of IoT Dashboard implemented through Node-RED's intuitive programming with MQTT and other components. All relevant code is provided in an open source way. 

Figure 9 Application example of LoRa device dashboard developed based on Node-RED environment
The transmission distance of the radio frequency signal in the environment will have many variables that will reduce the transmission performance. Without considering the complicated influences, the current LoRa technology does have excellent anti-interference performance after actual testing, and the receiving sensitivity is also quite good. Performance. 
Figure 10 shows that the transmission distance measured from the Shimen Reservoir dam along the open valley of the Dahan River with a 0 dBi antenna can reach up to 16 kilometers (km), which has very good transmission efficiency in open areas. In addition, in the test part of the metropolitan area, the gateway was erected on the 10th floor of the Taoyuan Shin Kong Building, which could cover a transmission range of approximately 2 kilometers in radius. However, in the real field, it may increase or decrease due to environmental impacts such as building barriers. Overall, the measured data shows that LoRa technology does have a good performance in transmission distance. 

Figure 10 Measured results of SF12 bandwidth 125kHz + 20dBm output power
Facing other technical challenges, LoRa is still promising 
Faced with the threat of new technologies such as NB-IoT, LoRa is still facing with caution. In terms of hardware, a new generation of cheaper, smaller and more efficient chips will also be available in March this year, hoping to achieve lower cost prices. , Improvements in performance and power consumption, supplemented by adjustments to reduce application design complexity, and look forward to maintaining competitiveness with a more competitive and cost-effective product line. The new generation of LoRa chips revealed by Shengte at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2018 are new products based on these foundations. Figure 11 shows the functional structure of the SX126X. Compared with the previous generation chip published in 2013, there are many new designs and performance improvements. 

Figure 11 Block diagram of the functional structure of the new generation LoRa chip
The main functions and improvements to focus on include: the chip size has been reduced by 45%, and the new chip size is only 4 mm × 4 mm; the power consumption of the receiving mode has been reduced by 50%, and the original 9 mA has been reduced to 4.6 mA; the transmission distance has increased 20%, and the same chip supports the use of the global Sub-1G frequency band with a frequency range of 150~960MHz. In order to reduce the complexity of application development, the protocol engine (Protocol Engine) is introduced. The hardware-implemented protocol engine with a 256Bytes data buffer (Data Buffer) provides extended commands for the user application programming interface (Application Programming Interface). Application developers can achieve LoRa program development with more streamlined programs. The original factory data shows that the processor only needs ten lines of code to program the LoRa transmission and reception functions. 
For other improvements, there are applications that require more devices to send and receive data for medium and short wireless coverage applications. The spreading factor SF5 (Separating Factor 5) rate has been increased, and the actual LoRa transmission rate has been increased to increase The utilization of the channel allows the gateway to support data transmission from more devices. The aforementioned improved designs reveal that LoRa faces the competition and challenges of new technologies, continues to improve cost and efficiency, and hopes to open up a piece of its own in the IoT market. 

On the other hand, with regard to the software protocol for building the entire LoRaWAN network, the LoRa Alliance proposed a new version of v1.1 last year. Regarding the stability and the problems faced by the network construction of a larger number of devices in the future, the new protocol is in the network Improvements have been made to the security mechanism, the proposal of new regional specifications, and the specifications for data exchange between the core server's back-end interfaces (Back-end Interfaces) and servers. 

The main improvement design includes the Roaming mechanism part of LoRaWAN devices between different LoRa operators. In addition to the original passive roaming foundation, a cross-operator handover roaming mechanism is added; terminal devices are available Class B complete transmission scheme, and dynamic switching between Class A and Class C; In order to meet the roaming needs of future mobile devices, the setting of Join Server has been added to provide devices that can be switched to LoRa operators during roaming Confirmation of parameters such as qualifications and characteristics. 

In the security part, the AES encryption key has been expanded from the original three to five, making the integrity and security of the data more stringent. Equipped with Firmware Upgrade Over-the-Air, which can perform necessary software updates wirelessly. 

According to data from the 2017 LoRa Alliance Annual Report, the number of products or modules that obtained LoRaWAN certification in 2017 increased by 51 compared with 2016, with a growth rate of 176%. In addition, 31 new LoRaWAN networks worldwide have increased, with a growth rate of 100%. At present, LoRa network services are provided in more than 100 countries, and there are 54 operator-level members. The membership of the alliance has also increased steadily, showing a sustained growth trend based on the data. 

Compared with NB-IoT, because LoRa was promoted and introduced earlier, there are still some advantages in cost and maturity at this stage. You can simply construct a privatized network, and still attract investment from many system vendors and application vendors. It is undeniable that the use of free frequency bands has serious interference problems, but in the competition arena of IoT technology, the follow-up development of LoRa is still worthy of continuous attention.

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