LoRa Alliance unveils WAN development roadmap

In a move that the trade association believes will broaden market reach and simplify deployments, including improved connectivity in challenging environments and seamless device integration, the LoRa Alliance has launched its formal roadmap for the  LoRaWAN standard for the internet of things (IoT) low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs).

The LoRaWAN specification is a LPWA networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery-operated “things” to the internet in regional, national or global networks, and targets key IoT requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility and localisation services.

The roadmap highlights LoRaWAN’s evolution from building and interconnecting networks through its focus on making the technology faster and easier to deploy. The work involved in this, said LoRa Alliance, the global association of companies backing the standard, has successfully made LoRaWAN the leading LPWAN with the most deployments supporting IoT’s active scaling across numerous end markets. The roadmap also showcases the planned development of the LoRaWAN open standard for IoT communications.

“LoRaWAN is a purpose-built networking technology to support massive IoT,” said Donna Moore, CEO and chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance. “The members of the LoRa Alliance have been diligent in their work to lay the foundation strategically evolving LoRaWAN to achieve the significant scaling that is taking place in IoT.

“Not only is our technology best of breed and proven across multiple multimillion-sensor deployments, but it is also backed by the largest ecosystem with the greatest number and diversity of certified devices.”

Recent development of the LoRaWAN open standard has led to LPWAN deployments globally across terrestrial and satellite non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) including hybrid networking approaches. As a result, LoRaWAN is said to be the only LPWAN that can address the requirements of any organisation looking to deploy large-scale, low-power IoT solutions today.

The roadmap outlines the planned enhancements of several critical features already incorporated in the LoRaWAN standard. It sets out a route to enhance connectivity for NTN LoRaWAN through, for example, further optimisation of the long range–frequency hopping spread spectrum (LR-FHSS), which enables LoRaWAN to far surpass the projected network-capacity requirements of massive IoT. It also looks to make relay enhancements that increase LoRaWAN signals’ reach in noisy or physically challenging environments to allow sensors to be deployed anywhere.

Fast and low-power network discovery addition are designed to offer new deployment options where coverage is not permanent, like mobile gateways, allowing walk-by or drive-by applications and adding significant value for key markets like utilities, where LoRaWAN dominates in terms of deployment volumes.

In addition to expanding addressable markets, the new roadmap also covers hyperscalability, core network management, certification and physical/link layer development.

Highlighting one key area, the alliance said that as IoT moves from millions to billions of connections, as is forecast in the next few years, network scalability is a key consideration that is addressed in the current standard and slated for future enhancements.

It added that smart metering is one key market where LoRaWAN has established a market-leading position with the current specification delivering abundant network capacity to address market requirements.

Recognising the growth in IoT connections that will be enabled by satellite and other NTNs, the Alliance developed LR-FHSS for massive, global LoRaWAN connectivity. As part of its planned roadmap, the LoRa Alliance says it will continue to enhance and expand the standard based on market needs and new use cases.

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