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The challenges of implementing LoRa and LoRaWAN in industries worldwide

The challenges of implementing LoRa and LoRaWAN in industries worldwide
The Future of LoRa and LoRaWAN looks bright, due to the rising adoption across industries worldwide. The technology, however, still needs to find the best data security system and ways to stand out from its market competitors.

The LoRa Alliance has announced that LoRaWAN network operators have surpassed the 100 milestone at the end of 2018, symbolizing a long-term commitment to the network standard. French telecom operator Orange has made LoRaWAN network cover more than 30,000 municipalities in France. The Future of LoRa and LoRaWAN looks bright, and the alliance continues to receive excellent member support.

“I think you will also see the same pivot in emphasis that all of IoT is experiencing away from pure connectivity models and towards more end-to-end solution offers targeted at very specific vertical markets, ”said Byron BeMiller, Director of Smart Building Applications, Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. “In the case of LoRaWAN, we think the verticals that are very good fits are smart buildings and cities, logistics, smart agriculture, industrial IoT, smart homes and utilities/smart metering LoRaWAN-based networks are best suited for applications that need long range, low power and are not mission critical,” said BeMiller.

With the rising awareness and adoption of IoT in various industries, LoRaWAN protocol might even have achieved the mass market. “I believe we have already achieved the critical mass and are now seeing real design efforts in the space,” said Steve Kilts, CEO, Radio Bridge. “To really expand market share, there is a huge need for IoT integrators and vertical solution providers to learn about LoRaWAN and begin running pilot programs,” suggested Kilts. Meanwhile, there are some other challenges LoRaWAN and LoRa technology need to tackle down.

Challenge 1: data security

With increasing awareness of user data privacy, data security has become a critical element in every communication protocol. Companies including Microchip and STMicro have developed encrypted Integrated Circuit for LoRa products, to lower the risks of data being decrypted. LoRaWAN network service providers, at the same time, have also built much safer connections through IPSec and MQTTS technologies, to protect data transmission between base stations and network servers.

Considering data privacy, consumers won’t be willing to join the data flow ecosystem of enterprises. As a result, more data transmitting technologies are going to avoid big name data servers, such as MQTT, CoAP and LWM2M, are appearing in the market. “How to free the whole LoRaWAN ecosystem in order to allow companies to work independently under the alliance’s agreement will be urgent issues for LoRaWAN,” said Andy Lin, Senior Manager, Advantech.

Challenge 2: competitors

“From the perspective of a LoRa-enabled device maker, how to stand out from several LPWA technologies will be the first challenge, especially from SigFox and NB-IoT,” said Jesse Chen, Director of LoRa & Wi-Fi Business Division, Browan Communication. Chen gave an example of the NB-IoT development in China. Its government has subsidized NB-IoT modules, increasing adoption of the technology.

Furthermore, NB-IoT can be rolled out with slight adjustments on operators’ current base stations. While LoRaWAN needs operators to invest in building base stations from the ground up. “If more operators are willing to invest and to increase the coverage of the LoRa network, there will be more clients offering IoT services based on LoRaWAN,” said Chen.

Go for the specific use case

Due to its license-free characteristics, LoRaWAN operates on open frequencies that might incur interference issues, making it unsuitable for large data payloads. Also, the definition of Unicast or Multicast on LoRaWAN hasn’t had mature development, making it difficult to serve remote-control applications. “However, each of the LPWA variants plays a major role in the IoT space depending upon the specific use case and connectivity requirements,” said Preeti Wadhwani, Assistant Manager, ICT at Global Market Insights.

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