A Comprehensive Guide to LoRaWAN and Long-Range Networks

Ein umfassender Leitfaden zu LoRaWAN und Long Range Netzwerken


Some may have encountered the term LoRaWAN or just “LoRa” and wondered what it’s all about. With the Internet of Things (IoT) gaining momentum, how we transmit data is becoming more intriguing. One technology that stands out is LoRaWAN. In this guide, we delve into all the essentials of LoRaWAN: basics, applications, technical details, security aspects, as well as costs and availability. We aim to comprehensively inform and inspire tech enthusiasts, IoT developers, and network technicians all over the world.




This guide offers a detailed exploration of the world of LoRaWAN. By the end of this article, you will understand what LoRaWAN is, how it operates, and the benefits it brings to the Internet of Things. Whether you are an expert or a user, this article will equip you with valuable insights and practical information. Let’s delve into this fascinating technology together, poised to revolutionize data transmission.

Fundamentals of LoRaWAN

The following section will elucidate the fundamental concepts and components of LoRaWAN, which are crucial for comprehending this innovative technology.

What is LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN, short for Long Range Wide Area Network, is a protocol layer that enables data transmission over vast distances. Designed to meet IoT requirements, LoRaWAN prioritizes long-range connectivity with minimal energy consumption. It presents a sturdy and scalable solution for linking devices across various sectors, such as Smart Cities, agriculture, industrial automation, and many more applications. By operating on sub-GHz frequency bands, LoRaWAN penetrates obstacles and ensures a stable connection, even in dense urban environments.

What is the meaning of LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN utilizes the LoRa (Long-Range) modulation technique for wireless data transmission, enabling devices to communicate over vast distances. Widely applied in IoT applications, it offers an energy-efficient solution for connecting devices across long ranges. Despite its abbreviation suggesting otherwise, LoRaWAN does not stand for Low-Range. It can cover several kilometers in urban areas and even up to 40 kilometers in rural settings.

How does LoRaWAN work?

LoRaWAN uses Gateways as intermediaries between end devices and the network server. End devices communicate with Gateways, which then relay the data to the server. These Gateways can receive and transmit signals over long distances, enabling end devices to require minimal transmission power. The network server processes the received data and, if necessary, forwards it to applications or other systems to ensure seamless communication and data utilization.

LoRa utilizes various frequency ranges globally within the ISM and SRD bands to ensure stable and efficient communication. In Europe, frequencies range from 433.05 to 434.79 MHz in the ISM band and from 863 to 870 MHz in the SRD band. Conversely, North America operates within the ISM band’s 902 to 928 MHz frequency range.

Devices in the LoRa network are characterized by extremely low power consumption; in operational mode, it is around 10 mA, and in sleep mode, it is as low as 100 nA. This results in an impressive battery life of 2 to 15 years. Communication occurs on different frequency channels with data rates ranging from 0.3 to 50 kbit/s. LoRa devices typically transmit no more than one message every five minutes to prevent public frequency congestion, limiting their suitability for real-time applications.

When was LoRaWAN invented?

LoRaWAN, introduced to the market in 2015, was established by the LoRa Alliance, an open, non-profit organization. This technology presents a long-range wireless communication solution with low energy consumption, making it ideal for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Since its inception, it has gained global significance and is deployed across various domains, from smart cities to industrial automation.

Is LoRaWAN an unlicensed spectrum?

LoRaWAN utilizes an unlicensed spectrum, meaning no special licenses are required. This characteristic makes it highly appealing for various applications, ranging from Smart Buildings and agriculture to industrial IoT solutions. By leveraging this spectrum, companies, and developers can swiftly and cost-effectively establish networks without the burden of intricate and expensive licensing procedures.

Utilizing LoRaWAN

In this section, we will delve into the diverse applications and benefits of LoRaWAN. From smart cities to agriculture, we will illustrate the versatility of this technology and its wide-ranging potential.

How can I utilize LoRaWAN technology?

To utilize LoRaWAN, you need a LoRaWAN-compatible device, a gateway, and a network connection. Devices transmit data to the gateway, relaying it to the network server. The gateway converts received radio signals into digital data as a bridge between devices and the network server. The network server processes this data and makes it available for various applications, such as environmental data monitoring, smart home or smart building device control for commercial spaces, or industrial IoT solutions.

What applications are available?

LoRaWAN has versatile applications across various sectors, including:

  • Water Meters: Monitor real-time water consumption to detect leaks early and prevent water wastage.
  • Electricity Meters: Capture and analyze detailed electricity usage to identify energy-saving opportunities.
  • Gas Meters: Track gas usage efficiently and enhance safety by promptly identifying irregularities.
  • Homes: Smart home applications like lighting control and security systems elevate household comfort and safety.
  • Municipalities: City administrations can monitor environmental data, such as air quality and noise pollution, and optimize infrastructure projects by utilizing data for traffic and waste management.

However, not all applications are without limitations. Due to technical constraints, LoRaWAN may be more suitable for data exchange than systems where rapid signaling is crucial, such as system control. For instance, it may not be the ideal use case for the LoRa protocol to turn on lights if they only illuminate several minutes later in the following data push. Therefore, LoRaWAN is better suited for applications requiring regular but not immediate data transmission, such as environmental condition monitoring or machine health monitoring.

LoRaWAN for water meters, electricity meters, and gas meters

It is crucial to manage what can be measured to conserve resources effectively. By integrating LoRaWAN into utility meters, businesses and households can enhance monitoring and optimize energy and water consumption. This technology facilitates the collection of detailed real-time data, identifying inefficient usage patterns and implementing targeted measures to reduce consumption. Not only does this contribute to cost savings, but it also plays a significant role in environmental conservation.


LoRaWAN Landmarken AG Projekt MyGekko Device


LoRaWAN for home and communities

With LoRaWAN, households and cities can enhance their infrastructure intelligently and efficiently. Whether it’s Smart Lighting for energy conservation, security monitoring to boost public safety, or environmental measurements for air quality control – the applications are diverse and contribute to an enhanced quality of life. By leveraging this technology, cities can become more sustainable and interconnected, providing long-term economic benefits.

Connecting LoRaWAN sensors to gateways

Connecting LoRaWAN sensors to gateways typically involves simple configuration interfaces, enabling user-friendly setup. Platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and ESP32 provide comprehensive support, easing integration with numerous libraries and documentation. These tools prove invaluable for developers and enthusiasts aiming to craft robust and scalable IoT solutions. When engaging specialized experts, one can leverage the insights and experience of technicians and project managers, avoiding a trial-and-error approach.

Technical details and security

This section delves into the technical aspects and security considerations of LoRaWAN in more detail.

What is a LoRaWAN gateway?

A LoRaWAN Gateway is an intermediary between end devices and the network server. It receives data from devices via radio frequencies and forwards it to the server for processing and analysis. This gateway’s role enables efficient and reliable communication within the IoT network.

LoRaWAN range and frequency

LoRaWAN can transmit data across distances of up to 15 kilometers in rural areas and about 5 kilometers in urban settings. This technology proves especially valuable for IoT applications due to its extensive range and low energy consumption. Operating on unlicensed spectrum frequencies like 868 MHz in Europe, LoRaWAN eliminates the need for costly licenses. These attributes render it ideal for Smart Cities, agriculture, and industrial applications.

How secure is LoRaWAN?

LoRaWAN provides multiple layers of security, including network keys and application keys, to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of transmitted data. The network key ensures secure communication between devices and the network, while the application key protects data at the application level from unauthorized access. These security measures are crucial to ensure the reliability of data transmission in IoT applications.

The LoRa Wide Area Network architecture is structured in a star topology. In this setup, LoRa devices communicate directly with LoRa gateways. These gateways forward the received data packets to a central LoRaWAN server. The LoRaWAN server interfaces with various IoT platforms and applications, enabling seamless integration into existing systems.

Another significant security feature is the dual 128-bit AES encryption in communication. This encryption occurs on the path to the network and application servers, providing additional protection against potential security threats. Through these comprehensive security measures, LoRaWAN ensures that data transmission in IoT applications is efficient and secure.

More examples of LoRa technology and products

An example of an innovative IoT technology application is the MINI BLE iBeacons. These compact, energy-efficient devices streamline room booking and control for tenants and visitors alike. By placing iBeacons in different areas, users can view and reserve room availability in real-time through a mobile app or booking system. This solution offers great convenience and enhances space utilization in commercial properties and public facilities.


LoRaWAN IoT Sensoren für Smart Building und Positionierung im Gebäude


LoRaWAN sensors have another practical use—providing real-time data on workspace occupancy. Companies can leverage these sensors to monitor employees’ presence and movement patterns, which is particularly beneficial in flexible work settings like coworking spaces. The data collected aids management in optimizing workspace utilization and deploying resources more efficiently. Ultimately, this can enhance employee satisfaction and lead to cost savings.

Furthermore, multisensors offer another illustration by continually measuring temperature, humidity, air quality, and presence. This data is transmitted in real-time to a central system for analysis and visualization. Coupled with a LoRaWAN gateway ensuring reliable data transmission, these multisensors can be a foundation for smart energy and building management. Beyond the mentioned applications, the DDC controller myGEKKO acts as an MQTT broker and LoRaWAN network server, facilitating seamless integration of various IoT devices and systems. This blend of innovative technologies provides comprehensive automation and optimization possibilities across multiple domains.

Costs and availability

Now, let’s delve into the financial aspects and market availability of LoRaWAN technologies. This includes an analysis of investment and operating costs and the availability of devices and services in the market.

How much does LoRaWAN cost?

The costs of LoRaWAN depend on various factors, such as the number of devices and gateways needed and network service usage fees. While DIY components are available for a few dollars, reserving such products for home and non-commercial projects is advisable, as they often lack the reliability and performance of professional solutions. More budget-friendly options and highly intricate solutions come with corresponding price tags in the professional realm.

Professional alternatives offer added features, enhanced security, and scalability crucial for large enterprises and industrial applications. Seeking guidance from a specialized firm in LoRaWAN and Smart Building projects ensures you acquire the right products for your intended solution without unnecessary extras. A thorough assessment of requirements and comparing different providers and products can aid in striking the optimal balance between costs and benefits.

Geographical availability

LoRaWAN is globally accessible, with some regions enjoying exceptional coverage. In Germany, numerous initiatives and networks actively promote the adoption of LoRaWAN. Many cities and municipalities are proactively enhancing their infrastructure to maximize the benefits of this technology. Additionally, various companies and organizations are backing the development and implementation of LoRaWAN-based solutions to enable innovative applications in areas such as Smart Cities, agriculture, and Industry 4.0.

LoRaWAN in specific regions

LoRaWAN is available in various cities and regions worldwide, encompassing major urban centers and diverse areas. This technology facilitates reliable and energy-efficient Internet of Things (IoT) communication. Utilizing local network maps can help understand coverage in specific regions, assisting businesses and individuals in determining the best deployment sites for their devices.

Seeking expert advice can be highly advantageous in preventing potential errors during technology implementation and operation. Professionals can provide customized solutions, ensuring optimal device performance and desired outcomes. By leveraging the benefits of the LoRaWAN network, businesses and individuals can maximize efficiency globally.

Practical applications and integration

The following section will present practical examples of utilizing LoRaWAN technology and approaches to integrating these solutions into existing systems.

LoRaWAN GPS tracker, home assistant, and temperature sensors

In addition to meters and smart home applications, LoRaWAN can also be utilized for GPS tracking, integration with Home Assistant, and monitoring environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Furthermore, LoRaWAN offers long-term energy efficiency and a cost-effective solution for large-scale networks, making it ideal for agricultural monitoring and industrial automation.

LoRaWAN server

A LoRaWAN server manages communication between gateways and end devices, processes received data and makes it accessible to users. It ensures efficient data transfer, monitors network usage and secures transmitted information. Additionally, it provides data analysis capabilities and integration with other systems.

Comparison and alternatives

It remains intriguing. Alternative technologies to LoRaWAN and their potential applications will be presented, along with some practical comparisons.

Alternative to LoRaWAN

Beyond LoRaWAN, various wireless communication protocols like Zigbee, Meshtastic, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NB-IoT exist. Each of these protocols has its own pros and cons, making them suitable for different applications and scenarios. For instance, Zigbee excels in home automation and IoT devices, while Wi-Fi, with its high data rate, is perfect for internet access and multimedia streaming. Bluetooth is commonly used for short distances and low energy consumption, whereas NB-IoT is designed explicitly for large-scale IoT networks with low bandwidth requirements. Each protocol offers a unique blend of range, data rate, and energy efficiency, choosing the right protocol dependent on the specific project requirements.

Differences between LoRaWAN and other protocols

How does LoRa differ from other seemingly similar protocols? Here’s a concise breakdown of the specifics.

  • LoRaWAN vs. Zigbee: Zigbee is better suited for short-range communication and is perfect for home automation and IoT devices. With low power consumption, it’s widely used in smart homes.
  • LoRaWAN vs. Meshtastic: Meshtastic operates as a mesh network, ideal for ad hoc setups. It provides robust, self-healing communication, particularly effective in areas lacking fixed communication networks.
  • LoRaWAN vs. Bluetooth: While Bluetooth has limited range compared to LoRaWAN, it excels in personal device connections like headphones and fitness trackers, offering fast data transfer over short distances.
  • LoRaWAN vs. WLAN: WLAN (or “Wi-Fi”) delivers higher data rates but shorter ranges, which is best for indoor use where high bandwidth is essential for internet connections and streaming services.
  • LoRaWAN vs. NB-IoT: NB-IoT, a licensed technology for cellular networks, ensures broad coverage and deep building penetration. It is ideal for applications requiring reliable and secure data transmission.

EnOcean and energy harvesting

EnOcean is a wireless communication protocol designed specifically for self-powered sensor systems. It operates on the principle of “Energy Harvesting,” where energy is harnessed from the surroundings—such as light, motion, or temperature differentials—to power battery-free devices. This approach enables maintenance-free and eco-friendly sensor technology by eliminating the need for regular battery replacements. EnOcean devices are commonly employed in building automation for tasks like light switches, sensors, and heating controls.

Energy Harvesting is also available for LoRa (Long Range) sensors. While less common than with EnOcean, LoRa sensors can harness energy from the environment to extend their lifespan and reduce maintenance requirements. This is particularly beneficial for applications where sensors are hard to reach. LoRa offers three device classes, differing in energy efficiency and communication capabilities:

  • Class A: The most energy-efficient class. Devices only transmit data when they initiate it and receive it in short, predefined windows after transmission. This minimizes energy consumption but is less suitable for applications requiring frequent communication.
  • Class B: Besides Class A capabilities, devices in this class are scheduled to receive data synchronized by beacon messages from the network. This allows for slightly more frequent communication but requires more energy than Class A.
  • Class C: These devices have the highest energy demands as their receive windows are open permanently, except when transmitting. This enables nearly continuous communication and is suitable for applications necessitating an immediate response to incoming messages, such as critical control tasks.

Specific technical scenarios

The Internet of Things (IoT) has unlocked numerous innovative possibilities, and this section explores specific technical scenarios along with the integration of LoRaWAN into various use cases.

LoRaWAN without a gateway, internet, or TTN.

There are ways to utilize LoRaWAN without relying on a gateway, the Internet, or The Things Network (TTN). However, the capabilities and coverage are significantly limited in such scenarios. Only local network connections can be established without this infrastructure, and data transmission is restricted to short distances. Therefore, these setups are best suited for small, enclosed systems or testing purposes.

LoRaWAN point-to-point

LoRaWAN can also be utilized for point-to-point connections, facilitating direct data transmission between two devices. This allows for efficient communication, particularly in scenarios necessitating a direct link. The transmission’s range and reliability may vary depending on the environment and distance.

Projects of today – Not just in theory for the future

Experience captivating projects demonstrating the current diverse applications of these technologies across various fields.

Implemented projects with LoRaWAN

GMS has successfully executed numerous projects utilizing LoRaWAN technology. These initiatives span from Smart Building solutions to Real Estate and Facility Management applications. This includes optimizing room booking, control, and efficiency. The incorporation of dashboards enables transparent monitoring of space usage and energy consumption. By implementing this advanced technology, GMS contributes to process optimization and cost reduction.

Description of specific projects

An example of digital transformation in the real estate sector is Landmarken AG at IDEENSCHMIEDE 3 in Bochum. They have created an inspiring environment showcasing smart, efficient, and sustainable space utilization here. GMS implemented innovative room booking and control solutions using Mini BLE iBeacons, enabling easy lighting, temperature, and shading adjustments.


Erfolgsstory Landmarken AG: Smarte Bürofläche in der IDEENSCHMIEDE 3, Bochum
Image: GMS reference on LoRaWAN at Landmarken AG in Bochum


The intuitive app offers features for ticketing, tenant chat, and info pages, facilitating direct communication with the landlord and providing vital information on events and services. Dashboards tracking area utilization and energy consumption give tenants and landlords a clear view and support proactive measures to enhance sustainability and efficiency.

Workplace occupancy sensors and multisensors communicate via LoRaWAN, detect employee presence, and measure temperature, humidity, and air quality. The LoRaWAN gateway connects to the sensors, with the DDC controller myGEKKO acting as an MQTT broker. These technologies optimize space usage and contribute to the sustainability of building management.

Value-adds for real estate and facility management

By utilizing LoRaWAN technology, property managers and facility operators can enhance the efficiency of building operations while improving residents’ comfort. Cutting-edge technologies for optimal utilization play a pivotal role in this process. Combining Mini BLE iBeacons, LoRaWAN sensors, multisensors, the LoRaWAN gateway, and the DDC controller, myGEKKO forms a comprehensive system. This system enables easy room booking and control, provides real-time data on workspace occupancy, monitors environmental conditions, and ensures reliable data transmission and network control.


LoRaWAN is a versatile and cost-effective technology widely used in various IoT applications. Its ability to transmit data over long distances while minimizing energy consumption offers numerous benefits for businesses and individuals. GMS is your trusted partner in developing tailored LoRaWAN solutions to meet your needs.

Are you ready to unlock LoRaWAN’s advantages for your business? Contact us today, and let’s shape the future together!