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Know About Low-Power Networks in IoT
IoT is the word of the era. It is changing the world for good and making life easier than ever imagined. The same is true for the low-power networks used in the Internet of Things.
Low Power Wide Area Network or LPWAN is associated with the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine (M2M) networks to work with sensors in the best way. LPWAN has a lot to offer as far as IoT is concerned. Hence, let us discuss some important aspects of low-power networks in IoT.
What is a Low-Power Network in IoT?
Low Power Wide Area Network or LPWAN is a wide area network or a class of wireless technologies to serve IoT devices' specific needs and functionalities. It emerged as an effective network system in 2015 for IoT applications due to its various features.
It caters to the high-power consumption, coverage, and costs of IoT devices with its long-range communication ability at a low bit rate. It helps in data transfer across sensors at low power, distinguishing it from networks working at high power.
It works at a data rate of 0.3 kbit/s to 50 kbit/s per channel. Besides, LPWAN has a long range of 2 km to 1,000 km. These features make LPWAN an effective wireless network technology to ensure a battery life of 10 years for IoT sensors with zero charging.
What are the Advantages of a Low-Power Network?
Why are low-power networks preferred for IoT devices? Here is the answer. It comes with numerous features and advantages, which makes it suitable to be used in IoT applications.
Here are the features that make low-power networks preferable.
Long range − LPWAN allows wireless communications over a long range. It can transfer information over 10 km in rural areas. The range is also quite high in urban settings. It allows IoT devices to sense data underground and indoors with utmost efficiency.
Low power − Low-power networks, as the name suggests, consume less power. It allows batteries to last for decades without being charged.
Less infrastructure − LPWAN comes with fewer hardware and infrastructure requirements for its usage. It is because of its long-range and star topology which reduces the complexity of designs that implement LPWAN.
Low cost − All the features of LPWAN boil down to a high-cost efficiency. Its low power and lesser infrastructure requirements greatly reduce operating costs. Over that, license-free or licensed bands are like the cherry on the cake.
What are the Various Low-Power Networks in IoT?
Various networks implement low-power wireless technology. This technology collects various low-power networks in multiple shapes and sizes.
Some low-power IoT networks are ZigBee, SigFox, NB-IoT, Nwave, LTE-M, LoRa, RPMA, DASH7, etc.
However, the top three low-power networks used in IoT applications are LoRa, NB-IoT, and LTE-M. These networks stand out in the list due to their high-cost efficiency, security, longevity, and long range.
LoRa − LoRa or Low range WAN is one of the most used low-power networks. It belongs to the non-cellular category in LPWAN technology. LoRa mainly works for battery-operated devices. It requires the least complex infrastructure and instils easy operability among IoT devices.
LTE-M − LTE-M is a first-generation cellular network in LPWAN. It allows advanced connectivity and coverage indoors and underground. Its less complex hardware structure, including GSM bands, saves a lot on operating costs with the least module and variant requirements.
NB-IoT − NB-IoT or Narrow Band IoT works a step ahead of the LTE-M network in terms of power and cost efficiency. It can connect over 50,000 IoT devices in a single cell. It can provide up to 20+dB coverage indoors and extends its connectivity underground to immense depths.
What are the Applications of Low-Power Networks in IoT?
The low power consumption and long-range, high-cost efficiency of low-power networks prove to be highly applicable in IoT devices. Hence, low-power networks are preferable over traditional mobile networks.
The application of LPWAN depends on the devices' coverage, data, and speed requirements. It is mainly used in IoT devices with low requirements for uplink message delivery. Some IoT devices also leverage the downlink capabilities of low-power networks.
These features make LPWAN suitable for smart lighting, asset monitoring and tracking, precision agriculture, energy management, smart metering, smart cities, livestock monitoring, manufacturing, and industrial IoT requirements.
How is LPWAN Different from Cellular, RF, and Mesh?
LPWAN is far more efficient than cellular networks, Radio Frequency, and mesh technologies. Cellular networks suffer from gaps in coverage and low battery life with frequent sunsets, which makes them unsuitable for IoT devices that have worked for over ten years.
Moreover, Radiofrequency technologies lack the long-range required for IoT applications, thus preventing the use of Bluetooth and NFC. Lastly, mesh technologies can only work for medium-distance IoT devices in homes and buildings. It also has a high data and power requirement compared to LPWAN.
Is LPWAN Secure?
LPWAN used in IoT applications ensures high security of data. It is because they employ various security features, such as network authentication, advanced standard encryption, subscriber authentication, identity protection, etc. Hence, you can rely on low-power networks in IoT.
IoT is the new trend in technology. While it uses various network technologies to run sensors, low-power networks are highly beneficial. Due to their low power consumption, long-range, and high-cost efficiency, it provides a special place for LPWAN in the Internet of Things.
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