What type of Hardware you should be selecting Your next IoT Solutions

While you are working on Large scale IoT Solution you tend to explore all options for implementing various hardware. I believe my post will help you to identify what do you need.


Good bandwidth, long range, for private networks, good
security, great interference resistance

First, let’s clarify that LoRa and LoRaWAN are not the same thing but rather
two sides of the same coin. LoRa is a proprietary modulation format (designed by Semtech) that transforms the actual physical signal into a form suitable for transmission, while LoRaWAN is an open network protocol that ensures secure two-sided communication.

LoRaWAN provides reliable bi-directional M2M interaction within a range up to 15 km in the suburban setting, and up to 5 km in densely built cities at the rateof up to 50 kbps. To accommodate the fact that requirements of IoT applications differ significantly, LoRaWAN supports three classes of end-devices depending on the volume and frequency of data exchange:

Class A nodes (baseline) are the most energy efficient and the most widely
used (since maximizing battery lifetime is the key advantage of LPWAN).
Class A nodes initiate data transfer and allot two listening windows for getting
commands from the server.

Class B nodes (beacon) are similar to Class A nodes but have an additional
listening window scheduled by the gateway. This additional window allows the server to send data to the device in a predetermined time

Class C nodes (continuous) are always in the listening mode except when
they are transmitting data. These are suitable for the most data-intensive
applications or when urgency is critical.

All three classes can coexist in the network, and devices can switch their class
dynamically, which favors flexibility and scalability of deployed solutions.

To guarantee message delivery, LoRaWAN uses acknowledgments that are
sent via the downlink (from the server to the end-device).Although generally
useful, this procedure has a downside — it reduces the overall capacity of the
Since a lot of IoT technology solutions deal with sensitive data, security is a
major concern in the field. LoRaWAN provides encryption on network,
application, and device layers to make the protocol well-suited for protected
data transfer.

Allows building dedicated private networks
3 supported device classes for better customization
Unlicensed spectrum used (cellular networks not needed)

Forced to buy Semtech chips, since LoRa format is owned by Semtech
Higher data rates increase the probability of errors
Message acknowledgment at limited listening windows impacts overall


Lowest bandwidth, decent range, lowest power use, good
security, expanding worldwide

Sigfox was one of the pioneers who realized the potential of ultra narrow
bandwidth (UNB) for IoT communication. The company is nurturing an
ambitious plan to become a global IoT operator. One of the peculiarities of
Sigfox business model is that they own all the infrastructure in their network,
which has already spread out into 30 countries in Europe, USA, Latin America,Middle East, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Another 30 countries are planned for roll-out by 2018.
Sigfox ensures low-bandwidth uplink transmission at up to 300 bps and very
limited downlink at only 12 bytes per day. Basically, Sigfox can be used
effectively only to gather sensor data, but can’t send any commands back to
the sensors. Low bandwidth contributes greatly to reduced power consumption– an end-device can operate up to 10 years on a single AA battery. The signal can travel the distance up to 50 km in rural area and up to 10 km in a concrete jungle of the large cities.

Chips available from multiple vendors — inexpensive endpoint radios
(devices) since they listen to a very narrow band of spectrum
Up to 1 mln devices per base station
Very energy-efficient = long battery life

Single point of failure — all infrastructure is owned by Sigfox
Uplink only (one-way communication)
Low data rate limits the scope of possible applications (low latency interaction
is problematic)


Great indoors, low power use, infrastructure serviced by cellular
operators, expanding worldwide

NB-IoT (Narrow Band IoT) is an open technology standard developed
by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) for the Internet of Things
applications. It uses a band inside the LTE spectrum and therefore relies on
cellular network operators in terms of infrastructure. The fact that NB-IoT uses 4G/LTE networks also suggests that it features best-in-class LTE-level security.
NB-IoT signal travels up to 20 km in rural areas, up to 5 km in the urban setting,
and is particularly good at penetrating inside buildings and underground. The
standard ensures up to 250 kbps of both uplink and downlink communication
and supports up to 100,000 devices per cell (base station).

Great battery life (>10 years)
Deep in-building and underground propagation
Infrastructure is built and maintained by cellular operators (just
recently Deutsche Telekom has started rolling out an NB-IoT network across

Suboptimal for rural and suburban areas where 4G/LTE coverage is poor or
Devices are medium-cost
Can’t have a dedicated network infrastructure


Superior data rates, decent range, low power use, best security,
mostly in the USA

LTE-M is a younger brother of LTE who got rid of all unnecessary features that
IoT connectivity platforms do not require by design (like streaming and high
data rates) but kept the beneficial aspects of the technology (high-level security and voice support).

LTE-M, as well as NB-IoT, is a child of 3GPP, so those two will be competing
against each other for cellular operators’ attention. The good news about LTEM is that it is completely compatible with existing LTE base stations, therefore the infrastructure deployment becomes virtually investment-free.

One of the distinctive functions in LTE-M protocol is a Power Saving Mode,
which made it possible to extend battery life up to 10–20 years. Hardware
updates are possible over the air but can reduce the battery life.
LTE-M guarantees bi-directional data transfer over the distance of up to 5 km
at the rate up to an impressive 1 Mbps.

Infrastructure is already there in many places
 Can be very power-efficient
 Fast data rates

Low-cost chips (and devices) are yet to be developed
No deployments as of now (June 2017)
Limited coverage outside USA

This article is researched while working on IoT Solution for Agriculture Industry Project at Lets Nurture

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