LPWAN technology for smart IoT sensors

Automation and Digitization are the two most important factors leading to industrial transformation, and the element which makes any process simplified is a SENSOR. To collect the information you need a sensor, to analyze the characteristics and behavior of a system, you need a sensor, to control the actions of a system you need a sensor. Basically, it is impossible to imagine an intelligent system without a sensor.

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Major Applications area where sensors play a crucial role: 

  • Aerospace & Defense 
  • Automotive & transportation 
  • Healthcare instruments 
  • Agriculture instruments 
  • Industrial automation 
  • Building automation 
  • Consumer electronics 
  • Other applications 

In the era of Industry 4.0 and the heart of this era internet of things, these conventional sensors have become connected, smart, and more actionable. This enhanced featured IoT sensor's market is forecasted to reach more than 85B USD by the end of 2024. 


Major Sensors types: 

  • Flow sensor 
  • Humidity sensor 
  • Position sensor 
  • Pressure sensor 
  • Acceleration sensor 
  • Temperature sensor 
  • Other Types 

These sensors are one of the most important and widely used components in various applications which creates a revolution in our living lifestyle. This demand converts into the deployment of a huge number of IoT sensors in the world. It requires taking care of challenges to manage a huge number of sensors ecosystem with better sustainability. 


Main challenges to create a sustainable sensor network: 

  • Low power operation (Probably battery operated) 
  • Low-cost solution 
  • Compact form factor 
  • Minimum (Zero) maintenance 
  • Easy to deploy without any technical expertise 

This is where LPWAN technology comes into the picture, LPWAN stands for Low Power Wide Area Network. The below list covers most of the LPWAN technologies which are widely used in the smart IoT world. 


LPWA technology: 

  • Sigfox 
  • LoRa 
  • Weightless 
  • Wize 
  • LTE-M 
  • NB-IoT 

An individual detailed description of each technology may need several articles so let’s have a brief idea for each. 

1. Sigfox: Sigfox is a French global network operator founded in 2009 that builds a wireless network to connect low power sensors. It uses a narrowband or ultra-narrow band on the ISM radio band. Sigfox employs differential binary phase-shift keying (DBPSK) and Gaussian shift keying (GFSK) modulation techniques. 

2. LoRa: LoRa (Long Range) is low power wide area network technology managed by founding members of LoRa Alliance. It uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands like 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe), and 915 MHz (Australia and North America). It is based on a spread spectrum modulation technique derived from the chirp spread spectrum (CSS). 

3. Weightless: Weightless is managed by the Weightless SIG (Special Interest Group). It operates in global licensed and unlicensed ISM frequencies. It uses standard GMSK and offset-QPSK modulation techniques. 

4. Wize: Wize is managed by the Wize Alliance. The Wize Alliance brings together public and private operators, manufacturers of connected objects and electronic components, integrators, start-ups, and academics. It works on 169 MHz Long Range frequency. It's most effective where you wish to connect hard to access object/sensor.  

5. LTE-M: LTE-M is the abbreviation for category M1 in LTE (4G). This technology uses a 4G network to connect between the cloud and sensors. It consumes approx. 100 Kbits/s maximum data bandwidth which doesn’t affect the 4G network as much and provides a low-cost solution. 

6. NB-IoT: NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area Network radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services. It can easily cover indoor devices with low-cost direct connectivity with the cloud. It sues the Narrowband of the LTE network and utilizes it to transfer low rate data easily. 

Depends on the application and technology used, LPWAN technology provides great advantages as below: 

  • Quality in services 
  • Battery life and Latency 
  • Scalability & efficient Payload-length 
  • Network coverage & range 
  • Competent deployment model 
  • Optimized cost 

Hence, adopting the use of LPWAN technology turns out to be really efficient as it substantially lowers the cost in both capital and operational expense.