LoRa vs. LoRaWAN

LoRa is a modulation technique for a specific wireless frequency, but LoRaWAN is an open protocol that allows IoT devices to communicate using LoRa.

LoRa, or Long Range, is a proprietary wireless technology that uses a license-free spectrum, similar to how Wi-Fi uses the unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies.

The deployment’s physical location determines the precise frequency used by LoRa. LoRa employs the 915 MHz frequency in North America and the 868 MHz spectrum in Europe, for example. As a result, it’s critical to understand which frequencies can be legally used in each LoRa deployment area. LoRa can communicate up to 10 kilometers away under ideal line-of-sight conditions.


Long LoRa has been available for a while; LoRa chipsets have only recently progressed to utilize significantly less power. LoRa is now suitable for IoT devices that are widely spread and battery-powered but only send small amounts of data at a maximum speed of 27 Kbps. Asset tracking, smart meters, detecting devices, smart parking, and agriculture field monitoring are common LoRa implementation examples. Semtech, a semiconductor provider, owns the LoRa technology.

LoRa creates a physical layer technique of wireless transfer, such as a transceiver chip, from a networking standpoint. It lacks the network protocols to control traffic for data gathering and endpoint device management. It is where Long-Range WAN (LoRaWAN) comes into play.


LoRaWAN is an open, cloud-based protocol developed and maintained by the LoRa Alliance that allows devices to connect wirelessly with LoRa. LoRaWAN essentially takes LoRa wireless technology and adds a networking component to it, as well as node authentication and data encryption for security.

LoRaWAN networks are perfect for enterprise IT deployments of IoT devices that continuously monitor the status of something and then send warnings back to gateways when the monitored data exceeds a predefined threshold. These IoT gadgets require little bandwidth and can operate on battery power for months or even years.

What is a LoRa gateway?

LoRa gateways are radio modules acting as communication devices between end devices and a LoRaWAN server in a LoRa network (LNS).

LoRa technology is exclusively used to communicate between end devices and gateways. A LoRa gateway is typically used to send sensor data from a physical device to the cloud. LoRa gateways are used to establish a network implementation of critical electrical appliances, particularly in locations where other forms of networks are not practicable due to technical limits.

LoRa offers an extended wireless range for data transmission and low energy consumption, allowing for highly extended battery life.

How does a LoRa gateway function?

LoRa gateways are radio modules that include a LoRa concentrator that allows LoRa packets to be received.

LoRa gateways come with an operating system that executes the packet-forwarding software in the background. As a result, the network administrator has more flexibility in managing his gateway. The data rate between the end node (node or end device) and the LoRa gateway is relatively low, but this is a required trade-off for extended battery life and a wide radio range.

The gateway is connected to a LoRaWAN network server via high-bandwidth networks such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or cellular to offer an end-to-end connection between LoRa end nodes and the application server,

Why is it important to understand the decision?

When looking for telecommunications solutions, you may come across both the LoRa and LoRaWAN radio technologies—so understanding the differences is critical to grasp how each will perform in your environment and recognizing which choice you may require.

In summary:

  • LoRa is the signal, which includes the PHY layer protocol. (As a result, it will be slightly less expensive.)
  • LoRaWAN connects the signal to the application/s and thus consists of the data transfer layer, allowing you to send data to any device linked to the cloud.

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