What’s LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network)?

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Meilily Li

Meilily Li

Product Marketing Manager at Seeed Studio

February 19, 2024 Open Immersive Reader

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing our world, enhancing decision-making processes, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness by integrating smart devices to collect, analyze, and act upon data. Central to this digital transformation is IoT connectivity, a critical factor that dictates the seamless transmission of data across various layers of IoT infrastructure.

Navigating the intricate world of IoT connectivity can be daunting. With a plethora of options ranging from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to advanced cellular technologies like NB-IoT and Cat-M1, not to mention solutions such as LoRaWAN and RPMA, selecting the ideal connectivity for your IoT project requires a deep dive into the capabilities and advantages each offers.

Enter LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network), a term that encapsulates a diverse spectrum of connectivity options. LPWAN is not merely a single standard but an umbrella term for a variety of implementations — some proprietary (eg. Sigfox 0G technology), others open-source — united by their common traits of low power usage and extensive coverage areas. LPWAN stands out for its exceptional attributes, providing cost-effective, low-power solutions that are instrumental for a myriad of IoT applications.

What is LPWAN?

LPWAN, or Low-Power Wide-Area Network, is a collection of various types of wireless telecommunication designed for sending small data packets (typically 10 to 10k bytes) over long distances (usually several kilometers), all the while maintaining low power consumption. It’s a game-changer for industries like agriculture, smart city development, efficient workplace management, precise asset tracking, and sensitive environmental monitoring. In these fields, devices often need to transmit minimal data across expansive distances without the need for frequent battery replacements.

Unlike smartphones and other consumer devices that demand high-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity, IoT devices thrive on lean data exchanges. They don’t need the constant, high-speed data streams that we, as consumers, have come to expect. Instead, these devices perform optimally with intermittent transfers of small data packets, a method that drastically cuts down on power usage.

Features of LPWAN

LPWAN technologies have a few key characteristics that account for their rising popularity, as highlighted in The Market Insights report, which states, “The LPWAN market size exceeded USD 5 billion in 2022, and it’s projected to expand with a robust 50% CAGR from 2023 to 2032.” This growth is fueled by the escalating demand for IoT and embedded devices, prompting telecom operators to invest in the commercialization of these networks.

The core attributes that make LPWAN connectivity appealing are:

Low Power Usage: LPWANs are engineered to ensure devices have low power consumption and an extended battery life.

Wide Area Coverage: These networks can transmit data over considerable distances, often surpassing traditional wireless networks with a range of tens of kilometers.

Cost-Efficiency: The streamlined protocols and reduced hardware complexity inherent in LPWANs help lower device costs. The far-reaching coverage, coupled with a straightforward star network topology, minimizes the need for pricey infrastructure.

Popular LPWAN Technologies

LPWAN is a catch-all term that includes a variety of technologies, each with unique implementations and protocols. Here’s a rundown of some prevalent LPWAN connectivity options:

LoRaWAN

Helium

Amazon Sidewalk

Sigfox

Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT)

●LTE CAT-M1

MIoTy mioty alliance

Random phase multiple access (RPMA)

Weightless

Further Reading on LPWAN

Each of these LPWAN technologies has distinct features and optimal use cases. To explore more details of some of the most promising and rapidly emerging LPWAN technologies that are shaping the future of IoT, you’re welcome to continue to read my latest blog that I published on Seeed Studio Blog. In this blog post, we’re shedding the spotlight on four LPWAN technologies LoRaWAN, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Sidewalk, Helium, and Cat-M. By delving into their features, real-world applications, and a head-to-head comparison, I aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of these LPWAN options to help you ascertain the best LPWAN solution for your IoT needs. Read the Blog Now!

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