How to choose the right LoRa/LoRaWAN gateway.

LoRa gateways can be seen in several fields of applications: smart buildings, smart cities, smart homes and industrial IoT. How can companies select the correct gateways that are sufficient for their services? Some criteria that companies should consider are, which settings are needed, coverage area or data transmission.

LoRa gateways serve as a bridge, which sends transmitted data from the LoRa sensors to a network server or cloud on the internet. They become the communication center of multiple concurrent devices. LoRaWAN technology can be used in various fields, such as smart buildings, smart cities, smart homes and industrial IoT. For developers and enterprises, however, how can they determine which LoRa gateway best fits their needs?

Suggestions 1: outdoor or indoor

“In a general way of categorizing the gateways, the split between outdoor and indoor stations can be a first door to access gateways,” said Stéphane Dejean, CMO, Kerlink. After deciding whether the IoT application is located indoors or outdoors, companies should consider how the gateway will connect to the internet, in order to know if the gateway needs to support 3G or 4G, suggested by Jesse Chen, Director of LoRa & Wi-Fi Business Division, Browan Communication.

“Therefore, companies should decide based on applications, budgets and coverage to consider which gateway they will need,” said Chen. For instance, as a city-scale network implementation, companies can consider to use a great number of outdoor gateways covering a large area and then add some indoor gateways to cover the blind spots.

Suggestions 2: start from the capacity

“The first would be the capacity requirements,” said Byron BeMiller, Director of Smart Building Applications, Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. Gateways come inversions supporting a different number of channels for public networks or very dense deployments where a higher number of channels may be a better option. Since LoRaWAN enables high capacity deployments, the majority of applications could be addressed with most gateways.

A second, BeMiller suggestion, would be whether or not the gateway would be deployed indoors or outdoors. Furthermore, companies need to know if carrier grade gateways are required or if enterprise grade is acceptable. “The final consideration would be the backhaul options required for the installation site - Ethernet, WiFi, Cellular or some combination,” said BeMiller.

Suggestions 3: data and privacy

“Due to LoRa’s low-power consumption and stable long-distance transmission per formance, the technology has become a popular choice in implementing wireless network nodes,” said Andy Lin, Senior Manager, Advantech. “Especially when it requires large area of coverage, LoRa’s 20km range transmission enables companies to cover the whole field with only a few stations, significantly lowering the costs for them to enter the IoT era.”

Lin suggested three considerations for choosing LoRa gateways: real-time data control, field coverage requirements, and whether or not data privacy stays with the client. For applications which ask for real-time data transmission, less interference and large area implementation, such as in factories or parking lots, Advantech offers the Private LoRa solution, which is able to precisely collect sensor data from multi-location and to remotely monitor the condition of equipment. For better data privacy, Advantech has implemented the Network Server inside its gateway, allowing users to define data flow via MQTT or VPN and to prevent data leakage.

Suggestions 4: test extensively

“As an end device manufacturer, our advice would be to make sure the gateways have been tested extensively with the end devices and network server. Even if the end device, gateway and network server are all LoRaWAN compliant, there are subtle compatibility issues that do exist,” said Steve Kilts, CEO of Radio Bridge.

Gateways from Multitech, as an example mentioned by Kilts, have the ability to run the network server right on the gateway itself as well as the Linux environment that allows the user to create full applications at the edge. “Ensure that the gateway manufacturer has native support for the network server and be cautious of falling back on the open source ‘legacy’ packet forwards available online,” said Kilts.

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How to choose the right LoRa/LoRaWAN gateway