Semtech’s LoRa technology is the most exciting radio technology in the IoT right now. The cellular industry is making bold promises about LTE-for-the-IoT that almost certainly will fail to live up to their promises, but widespread availability of the allegedly “low cost” LTE chips with “multi-year battery life” for IoT is years away so for the moment, LoRa gets to soak up the long-range/low power radio spotlight.
We like LoRa and it – or a competitor doing something very similar to it – will dominate sub-1GHz unlicensed band IoT deployments for some years to come. Subscription and device costs for LTE devices will be well north of where LoRa (and its emerging competitors) are and LTE will be limited mainly to carrier-based IoT systems, with an emphasis on consumer users. Enterprise and industrial customers, where the bulk of future IoT device growth lies, are already waving LTE off and looking at unlicensed band options like LoRa.
Semtech has work to do to make its LoRa radios even better, but of greater concern to developers should be its sponsorship of a networking stack initiative known as LoRaWAN. We built a presentation that contrasts LoRaWAN with Haystack’s DASH7 networking stack and invite you to take a look:
The presentation is wordier (by design) than what we usually publish but it highlights the basic fact that LoRaWAN, despite its sponsorship by Semtech, is not going to scale for anything more than pilots. The security issues alone should be raising red flags everywhere and make any developer steer well clear of LoRaWAN.
IBM Research did us all a favor when they came up with LoRaWAN – it served a useful purpose in providing a quick, basic way to test LoRa and seems to have started a real trend in IoT: much longer range, lower power sub-1GHz connectivity than anyone previously had designed. But that was years ago and the IoT is growing up fast and IoT security debacles – to pick on just one LoRaWAN vulnerability – are a weekly occurrence now. If you plan to build a scalable IoT system using LoRa, using LoRaWAN is malpractice.