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What is LoRa and LoRaWAN?

Some months ago, a large client with a refinery approached Online Pipeline Solutions in Houston, through our distributor Pipetech Corporation in Canada to ask if we could supply one of our 4003 Magnetic Pig Signalers with LoRaWAN. Our immediate response was… “What is LoRaWan and why would we want or need to offer it?”

The client explained that is was a way to communicate low volume communication via radio over a significant distance. In his instance he just wanted to have indication of pig passage without using wires back to his control room.

Our Special Applications Manager began to do the research and we implemented it. We have units in the field today. We can fully implement the solution, design customs, or send them to you to load your “keys” and select the data you want.

But you may be asking the same thing…“What is LoRaWan?”

There are actually two elements to this question… What is LoRa? What is LoRaWAN?

LoRa is a Low Power Radio transmission that can travel a long distance or as the techies would say it is the physical layer. It utilises CHIRP Spread Spectrum(CSS) technology. The essence of this is that it utilizes technology widely used by the military and space communication systems such as NAVSTAR as it allows for low power transmission that can withstand jamming/interference and resists eavesdropping. It is also very resistant to multi-path fading as a result of a signal bouncing of buildings etc.

LoRaWAN is the protocol and system architecture for the Network… and utilises the CHIRP signal for communication. In case you are wondering CHIRP stands for Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse. Specific Keys are also employed and need to be set for communication to be able to be send and receive and decode messages which further enhances system security.

The only drawback to LoRaWAN communication is that there is a limited amount of data that can be sent. Sending relay status, Unit ID, Gauss Levels, Battery Levels, can easily be sent infrequently. Video or any large data communication is not possible or would be very slow.

The main thing is depending on your environment, you can send secure data from a few kilometres to tens of kilometres with low power consumption, so battery powered units are no problem. If you have a situation where you need to send data quite some distance, running lines is not an option, need to make sure you have secure communication, not a lot of power to work with then LoRaWan solutions may be right for you. Installation can be permanent or portable. Call us and our Special Application Engineers will help design a solution for your application.