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Is LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi a natural match?

  • Categories:News Center
  • Time of issue:2021-01-26 15:31
  • Views:

(Summary description)If you are currently implementing the Internet of Things (IoT), you may have spent a lot of time researching wireless connectivity solutions because there are too many options. However, the two technologies, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, can exert attractive synergies when used as end-to-end solutions from the edge to the cloud. Therefore, these two technologies can also be used in a variety of applications from industrial facilities to major cities around the world. In order to understand the cause, let us first understand how the two work together.

Is LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi a natural match?

(Summary description)If you are currently implementing the Internet of Things (IoT), you may have spent a lot of time researching wireless connectivity solutions because there are too many options. However, the two technologies, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, can exert attractive synergies when used as end-to-end solutions from the edge to the cloud. Therefore, these two technologies can also be used in a variety of applications from industrial facilities to major cities around the world. In order to understand the cause, let us first understand how the two work together.

  • Categories:News Center
  • Author:Remi Lorrain, Semtech Director of Global Internet LoRaWAN
  • Origin:
  • Time of issue:2021-01-26 15:31
  • Views:
Information

If you are currently implementing the Internet of Things (IoT), you may have spent a lot of time researching wireless connectivity solutions because there are too many options. However, the two technologies, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, can exert attractive synergies when used as end-to-end solutions from the edge to the cloud. Therefore, these two technologies can also be used in a variety of applications from industrial facilities to major cities around the world. In order to understand the cause, let us first understand how the two work together.

The Internet of Things requires connectivity from edge devices (such as various types of sensors) to the Internet. At the edge, the typical protocol choice is to choose one of the 802.15.4-based standards, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, because each standard has a mesh function. The data is sent to the gateway through this technical standard, and then sent to the Internet through a cellular or low-power wireless local area network (LPWAN).

Wi-Fi is the only protocol that can provide extremely high data rates. However, its disadvantage is that the access point consumes a lot of power, its visual range (LoS) is only about 200 meters, it uses a channel bandwidth of 20MHz or higher, and can operate at 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, but it cannot be worn. Through the structure, its frequency is also low.

NXP wireless network solution introduction


In 2018, the economic value of global Wi-Fi provided was close to US$2 trillion, and this figure is expected to grow to nearly US$3.5 trillion by 2023. (Source: Wi-Fi Alliance)

In contrast, edge devices using LoRaWAN only consume microamperes (uA) of current, and they can last for several years using button batteries. This protocol uses a very narrow channel width of 500kHz or less and a maximum transmit power of 20dBm (50mW). In addition, in North America, it operates in a frequency range from 914MHz to 928MHz, which not only can penetrate the structure, but also supports longer transmission distances.

LoRaWAN system architecture diagram. (Source: LoRa Alliance)

For a technology with extremely low transmit power and frequently "electrically short" antennas, the "long-distance coverage" feature seems counterintuitive. However, since LoRa radio uses chirp spectrum modulation and a related mechanism based on frequency band extension, even an extremely weak signal of 19.5dB that is far below the noise level can be demodulated by the receiver. It is not surprising that amateurs have tested this and the results are impressive or even "amazing". In July of this year, a team of engineers in Spain set a world record of 766 kilometers (476 miles) by using a balloon-mounted directional antenna with an RFM95W transceiver from Hope Electronics with an RF output of 14 dBm (25mW transmit power).

balloon test
Seven balloons of different sizes were launched from Alfamen, Spain. The balloons using LoRaWAN reached a world record of 766 kilometers with a launch power of 25nW.

Then why not just use LoRaWAN directly?

Of course, it is reasonable to think that using LoRaWAN alone is sufficient and does not have to be used in conjunction with Wi-Fi, because after all, it provides all the necessary conditions for an end-to-end solution, and the LoRaWAN network has been successfully used worldwide 140 Many countries. However, Wi-Fi can reach the transmission rate and low latency performance that LoRaWAN cannot provide. This means that in more and more cases, these two completely different technologies can work together to produce some solutions that Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN cannot provide alone. Therefore, this powerful combination opens up a wider range of applications.

And it is very easy to integrate these two technologies. Many device manufacturers have built transceivers and gateways that can support both Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, and also provide Wi-Fi access point adapters that can be plugged into LoRaWAN gateways. The latest LoRaWAN/Wi-Fi compatible gateways are smaller in size than their predecessors, usually only the size of two smartphones stacked together, and their cost is gradually decreasing, even lower than the standard consumer Wi-Fi Fi access point is even lower. Many products also provide support for various functions of Bluetooth, GPS and LoRaWAN, and include different security levels. Setting up a gateway that supports this dual protocol is also very simple, just through the software provided by the gateway or a smartphone application (App).

LoRa, Wi-Fi, applications
Smart home (consumer) application of LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi. (Source: Wireless Broadband Allice, LoRa Alliance)

The process of moving the data generated by the LoRaWAN sensor to Wi-Fi can be completed almost immediately, and it can also be adjusted to activate in specific situations. For example, when a LoRaWAN camera detects motion and starts recording video, you can switch the transmission function to Wi-Fi to have enough bandwidth and speed to send the video to the cloud.

Another example is positioning and tracking, which can "sniff" Wi-Fi access points through LoRaWAN sensors and send several access points that meet the requirements to the LoRaWAN cloud, and then triangulate and accurate time stamps To achieve geographic positioning. Even a single IoT device may achieve a Wi-Fi geolocation accuracy of about 10 meters indoors, depending on how many Wi-Fi access points are available. For example, the vertical elevation position with five powerful Wi-Fi signals is about 5 meters, while it is about 20 meters outdoors in urban areas.

LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi complement each other. (Source: Wireless Broadband Allice, LoRa Alliance)

When the IEEE 802.11mc standard is used to provide precise timing measurements (also known as round trip time or RTT), accuracy can also be improved. The latest progress of IEEE 802.11mc in precise positioning technology is relatively unknown, because it has only recently attracted media attention, but it has actually been integrated into the Android P operating system and is expected to begin to see wider deployment in the next few years . IEEE 802.11mc can increase the positioning accuracy to about 1 meter and provide vertical (Z-axis) position information, which was impossible in the past.

Wi-Fi RTT can reduce the position error of the three axes to about 1 meter, and achieve a positioning accuracy of 1 meter. For example, let the first person to dispatch the rescue to quickly locate the person in need, use a smartphone to dial 911, and accurately locate the apartment in a multi-story building. When RTT-enabled Wi-Fi access points are used together with LoRaWAN, this accuracy can also be extended to remote locations.

LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi can work together effectively, which is not what other wireless communication technologies (whether short distance or long distance) can achieve. The cellular network can complete most of the work of LoRaWAN, but it also requires more infrastructure, and is more expensive to deploy, consumes more device battery life, and restricts the control of the IoT communication network. Therefore, LoRaWAN has emerged as the most widely deployed LPWAN technology, and because Wi-Fi can provide extremely high data transmission rates within short distances, it is an order of magnitude higher than all other solutions. LoRaWAN and Wi-Fi together create a unique solution.

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