In the Internet of Things world, people use LoRa and LoRaWAN terms interchangeably. However, they refer to different things. In this short article, I will explain what each of these terms mean and what’s the difference between them.
What is LoRa?
LoRa is closed source physical layer protocol. To improve resistance to signal interference it’s using spread spectrum modulation technique derived from chirp spread spectrum technology. It uses license-free bands and offers very long range transmission with low power consumption. For instance maximum range is about 2-5 km in the urban area and over 10 km in a rural area. It was designed to wirelessly connect battery operated
things to some kind of central server and targets key Internet of Things (IoT) requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility and localization services.
LoRaWAN is the network which operates on top of LoRa, defines the communication protocol and system architecture for the network. In other words, it exists in the data link layer of ISO/OSI model. LoRaWAN is an open standard that defines the communication protocol for LWPAN technology based on a LoRa chip. Above all, the biggest influence in the battery lifetime of a node has the protocol and architecture iteself.
The LoRa and the LoRaWAN modules could be not compatible because these protocols are different. The LoRa module implements a simple link protocol. On the other hand, LoRaWAN protocol is a much richer and more advanced protocol, created by LoRa Alliance.
To sum up, LoRa is the physical layer and LoRaWAN is the data link layer. Together they create Low Power Wide Area Network technology stack used in the Internet of Things solutions.
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