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Is LoRa a 'must be' for Industrial IoT?

As the remote application market is growing rapidly, technology also needs to progress, ensuring greater range and transmission speed while reducing energy consumption. Technological progress makes it possible to create innovative standards for new, sophisticated applications that facilitate our life and work. One of wireless connection choices can be LoRa technogoly.

What exactly is LoRaWAN?

LoRa (Long Range Radio) technology with low data throughput allows IoT and M2M applications to communicate wirelessly over 15 kilometers, with a battery life of more than 10 years. LoRa allows you to connect millions of wireless nodes with compatible gateways and has several key advantages over other wireless solutions. For example, it uses spectrum spreading modulation with the ability to demodulate a signal 20 dB below the noise level.

LoRa uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands like 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (Australia and North America). LoRa enables long-range transmissions (more than 10 km in rural areas) with low power consumption.[4] The technology is presented in two parts: LoRa, the physical layer and LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network), the upper layers.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LoRa

Compared to 3G and 4G cellular networks, LoRa technology is also better scalable and more cost-effective for embedded applications. It has a much greater range than other popular wireless protocols, which allows devices to operate without amplifiers, reducing the total cost of the application.

Thanks to scalability, reliable communication, mobility and ability to work in difficult external conditions, the LoRa module is perfectly suited for use in a wide range of wireless monitoring and control applications that do not require high transmission speeds. Examples of applications may include smart city (street lighting sensors, motion sensors), energy (intelligent measurement of electricity / water / gas consumption) and industrial / commercial / home applications, among others HVAC, intelligent devices, security systems and lighting.

LoRa Coverage
LoRa coverage. Source: https://lora-alliance.org/

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE.

LoRa vs NarrowBand-IoT. What is better for Industrial IoT?

Low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology meets the needs of multiple IoT markets for low-cost devices that maintain long battery life and low-cost, large-area networks that support large numbers of connections. However, LoRa (LoRaWAN) and NarrowBand-IoT have the most momentum and will gain the largest share in the LPWA market in the next few years.

Many technology articles compare LoRa and NB-IoT technologies as if they were battling it out for dominance in the IoT market. In reality, these technologies are two branches within an emerging technology ecosystem. Similar to WiFi and Bluetooth, they will most likely to diverge into different niches, rather than directly compete with each other. This article will dive deeper into the capabilities, costs, longevity, maturity, and other differentiators of NB-IoT and LoRa-based technology.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nb-iot-vs-lora-its-ecosystem-race-art-reed

Sigfox/LoRa and NB-IoT in direct comparison

As a result of the research, performed by Tauron, it was found that SigFox and LoRaWAN technologies have limited applications due to the use of the unlicensed ISM band (868 MHz). In addition, each of the three technologies tested has a limit on the transmission channel speed. LoRaWAN, unlike others, allows the construction of an autonomous, separate network dedicated to the needs of the owner.

LTE NarrowBand-IoT technology, as a 3GPP standard, is being increasingly implemented by subsequent mobile operators in the world and in European countries like Poland. For example, polish main frequencies of NB-IoT implementation are 800 MHz and 900 MHz, which allows achieving high coverage of the country.

Research carried out by Tauron has shown that, considering the security of the solution, the availability of telecommunications infrastructure, or the speed of data transmission (important for meter reading), LTE NB IoT technology is closest to use in the energy sector.

Source: https://www.telko.in/tauron-lepiej-ocenia-nb-iot-niz-lora-i-sigfox

Both LoRa and NB-IoT standards were developed to improve security, power efficiency, and interoperability for IoT devices. Each features bidirectional communication (meaning the network can send data to the IoT device, and the IoT device can send data back), and both are designed to scale well, from a few devices to millions of devices.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nb-iot-vs-lora-its-ecosystem-race-art-reed

Use of LoRa/NB-IoT in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa / NarrowBand-IoT wireless solutions. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened.

ModBerry 500 / ModBerry 9500

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE. Such solutions offer also NarrowBand-IoT and full 4G/LTE support.

The NB-IoT is becoming a standard in wireless communication of IoT devices, for standalone solutions and complex installations with thousands of units, coordinated with gateways. Will NarrowBand-IoT replace other wireless technologies in industrial automation?

What exactly is NarrowBand?

NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) is a radio technology in the field of LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) dedicated for IoT devices, operating on the licensed frequency band used by telecommunications operators.

The biggest advantages of NB-IoT include:

  • long battery life (up to 10 years),
  • efficiency in the amount of data transferred,
  • intra-building penetration,
  • the ability to connect even tens of thousands of devices in one system,
  • a global standard,
  • a high level of security and low cost

You can build mass solutions and those that until now were considered unprofitable. NB-IoT technology works in the licensed band, so there is no risk of interference and blocking communication by competing networks.

The service life of devices powered by two AA batteries is up to 10 years. However, the devices themselves are constructed in such a way that they can work for many years without the need for technical supervision and recharging the battery.

NB-IoT used in industrial solutions

One of many uses of NarrowBand-IoT wireless modems can be communication of edge devices, dedicated to data management, process control (e.g. with MQTT protocol) and monitoring. Latest ESP32-based eModGATE controller from TECHBASE company is a series utilizing MicroPython environment to provide data management solutions for end-points applications. The eModGATE has built-in Wi-Fi/BT modem and can be equipped with additional NarrowBand-IoT modems

eModGATE eqipped with wireless NB-IoT modem are perfect for industrial automation solutions, e.g. data logging, metering, telemetrics, remote monitoring, security and data management through all Industrial IoT applications.

Supported bandwidths:

  • Global-Band LTE CAT-M1:  B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B8/B12/B13/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28/B39;
  • Global-Band LTE CAT NB-IoT1:  B1/B2/B3/B5/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28;
  • GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900Mhz Control Via AT Commands

Supported data transfer:

  • LTE CAT-M1(eMTC) – Uplink up to 375kbps, Downlink up to 300kbps
  • NB-IoT – Uplink up to 66kbps, Downlink up to 34kbps
  • EDGE Class – Uplink up to 236.8Kbps, Downlink up to 236.8Kbps
  • GPRS – Uplink up to 85.6Kbps, Downlink up to 85.6Kbps

The wM-Bus or Wireless Meter Bus is a European standard (EN 13757-4) that defines communication between usability meters and data loggers, hubs or intelligent meter gates. The M-Bus wireless bus has been developed as a standard to meet the needs of the European network of media meters and remote reading systems and forms the basis of a new advanced measurement infrastructure (AMI). The frequency of M-Bus and sub-GHz wireless connections has been used for several years, but is still evolving to adapt to changing environments and take advantage of technological advances, including the emergence of the Internet of Things.

2.4 GHz band vs unlicensed bands

Intelligent network devices require robust long-range wireless communication. The most common frequencies are around 868 MHz, 434 MHz and 169 MHz, which are unlicensed bands in Europe and offer better radio wave propagation compared to 2.4 GHz. By using one of these unlicensed bands, radio waves can reach difficult areas such as underground meters or the location of buildings with many walls or obstacles. Another advantage of operating in the unlicensed band is that utilities have lower solution costs.

COVID-19 and wireless technologies

In times of COVID-19 pandemic hazards, the use of wireless technologies is often a must, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. One of obvious choices for Internet of Things and home monitorng is Wireless M-Bus implementation.

TECHBASE has added high performance module for Wireless M-Bus connectivity and multi-hop networking into Moduino series expansion options. The module is configured as an embedded micro system or simple data modem for low power applications in the metering specifically allocated band of 169 MHz or in the ISM band of 868 MHz. The device is can be configured for interoperability in a WMBus network for Industrial IoT applications.

The RF implementation guarantees best-in-class performance in terms of covered area and power consumption. The output power can be increased up to +30 dBm on the 169 MHz band (+27 dBm on optimized version for highest power efficiency) and up to +15 dBm on the 868 MHz band. The extremely reduced power consumption gives access to long lasting battery life requirement (up to 2 μA in sleep mode for wireless M-Bus module with an RTC clock running).

The Moduino devices  can be provided with a W-MBus stack specifically developed by Embit for the platform that allows to integrate the module in the desired system without effort and simplify the interaction in WMBus networks.

In the toughest annual race of this kind, Tor des Géants participants run over 300 kilometers and overcome altitude changes at 24 kilometers in less than 150 hours. The Everynet solution based on LoRa monitored runner locations during the event for the fourth year in a row to ensure the safety and health of participants. Each runner is equipped with a LoRa based sensor that sends geolocation data in real time to the Everynet gateway, which is implemented during the race.

The race organizer chose the LoRa Everynet app because the race location in the Italian mountain range is obviously not covered by the mobile network. In addition, the long range capability and low power consumption of the LoRa device ensure consistent and reliable runner position data during the week of the race. Most devices consume less than 30% of the total battery capacity as a result of an incident. After the introduction of the Every des application on Tor des Géants, race employees could often intervene directly to ensure the safety of the runner.

With LoRaWAN-based connectivity, Everynet was able to simply and efficiently provide coverage to the entirety of Tor des Géants, including difficult terrain, without requiring additional network infrastructure,” said Antonio Terlizzi, Sr. Vice President of Global Sales for Everynet. “Combining the strong network coverage of LoRaWAN with reliable tracking sensors provides race organizers with the accurate, consistent and real-time data necessary to keep runners safe and help ensure a successful event

LoRa Coverage
LoRa coverage. Source: https://lora-alliance.org/

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

ModBerry M500 with Raspberry Pi’s 4 on-board

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE.

Bulgarian open equipment specialist, Olimex, has started stocking compact modules to add Low-Power NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) connectivity (LPWAN) to the project: the NB-IoT-BC66 family.

NB-IoT is low power wide area networking technology which uses existing GSM LTE technology and has many advantages versa LoRa,” the company explains. “GSM network quality of service; single GSM cell can talk to up to 100,000 devices; high; communication speed 25.5kbps up and downlink; secure communication using LTE encryption; better range than LoRa both in urban and rural area (* depend on cell operating frequency – best range is on 850MHz.)

Source: https://olimex.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/new-nb-iot-bc66-modules-with-size-only-26×26-mm-contain-everything-you-need-to-add-nb-iot-functionality-in-your-next-project/

Olimex has launched four NB-IoT breakout boards. They are all based on the Quectel BC-66 module. NB-IoT-BC66 is the basic model, NB-IoT-BC66-ANT includes an attached GSM antenna, NB-IoT-BC66H contains a pre-soldered header, NB-IoT-BC66 and NB-IoT-BC66H-ANT combines both a soldered header and an attached antenna.

Olimex BC66 breakout board’s features and specifications:

  • NB-IoT Connectivity
    • Quectel BC-66 with worldwide GSM bands coverage
    • 25.5 kbps uplink and downlink
    • nano SIM card slot
    • u.FL antenna connector + optional antenna
  • I/O Expansion – 3x 10-pin header either unpopulated or fitted with male headers; Level shifters for 5x GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART
  • Misc – Status LEDs
  • Power Supply –
  • Dimensions – 26×26 mm

Source: https://www.cnx-software.com/2020/04/08/olimex-quectel-bc66-breakout-board/

eModGATE with ESP32

NB-IoT used in industrial solutions

One of many uses of NarrowBand-IoT wireless modems can be communication of edge devices, dedicated to data management, process control (e.g. with MQTT protocol) and monitoring. Latest ESP32-based eModGATE controller from TECHBASE company is a series utilizing MicroPython environment to provide data management solutions for end-points applications. The eModGATE has built-in Wi-Fi/BT modem and can be equipped with additional NarrowBand-IoT modems

eModGATE eqipped with wireless NB-IoT modem are perfect for industrial automation solutions, e.g. data logging, metering, telemetrics, remote monitoring, security and data management through all Industrial IoT applications.

Supported bandwidths:

  • Global-Band LTE CAT-M1:  B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B8/B12/B13/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28/B39;
  • Global-Band LTE CAT NB-IoT1:  B1/B2/B3/B5/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28;
  • GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900Mhz Control Via AT Commands

Supported data transfer:

  • LTE CAT-M1(eMTC) – Uplink up to 375kbps, Downlink up to 300kbps
  • NB-IoT – Uplink up to 66kbps, Downlink up to 34kbps
  • EDGE Class – Uplink up to 236.8Kbps, Downlink up to 236.8Kbps
  • GPRS – Uplink up to 85.6Kbps, Downlink up to 85.6Kbps

The leader of LoRa and RF technology, Semtech will continue to support the LoRa ecosystem by introducing a new portfolio of solutions called LoRa Edge to simplify and accelerate IoT applications for edges. LoRa Edge is a new, versatile, new low-power LoRa platform that enables a wide range of indoor and outdoor asset management applications in the industrial, construction, housing, agricultural, transport and logistics markets.

Semtech continually delivers Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that simplify and accelerate the development of LPWAN applications,” said Pedro Pachuca, Director of IoT Wireless in Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. “LoRa Edge and LoRa Cloud geolocation services enable customers to develop ultra-low-power applications for a variety of industries and will expand the mass adoption of LoRa in the IoT ecosystem.

Source: https://www.semtech.com/company/press/semtech-releases-a-new-portfolio-of-solutions-lora-edge-to-simplify-and-accelerate-iot-applications
Semtech's LoRa Edge introducing new LR1110 chip

LoRa Edge LR1110 features

Multi-Purpose Radio Front-End

  • 150 – 2700 MHz continuous frequency synthesizer range
  • GPS/BeiDou scanning
  • Wi-Fi passive scanning

Low-Power LoRa/(G)FSK RF Transceiver

  • Worldwide frequency bands support in the range 150 – 960 MHz
  • High power PA path +22 dBm
  • High efficiency PA path +15 dBm
  • Fully compatible with the LoRaWAN® standard

Cryptographic Engine

  • Hardware support for AES-128 encryption/decryption based algorithms
  • Handling device parameters such as DevEUI and JoinEUI
  • Protects confidential information such as encryption keys
  • Stores NwkKey, AppKey, as defined in the LoRaWAN standard

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE.

The wM-Bus or Wireless Meter Bus is a European standard (EN 13757-4) that defines communication between usability meters and data loggers, hubs or intelligent meter gates. The M-Bus wireless bus has been developed as a standard to meet the needs of the European network of media meters and remote reading systems and forms the basis of a new advanced measurement infrastructure (AMI). The frequency of M-Bus and sub-GHz wireless connections has been used for several years, but is still evolving to adapt to changing environments and take advantage of technological advances, including the emergence of the Internet of Things.

2.4 GHz band vs unlicensed bands

Intelligent network devices require robust long-range wireless communication. The most common frequencies are around 868 MHz, 434 MHz and 169 MHz, which are unlicensed bands in Europe and offer better radio wave propagation compared to 2.4 GHz. By using one of these unlicensed bands, radio waves can reach difficult areas such as underground meters or the location of buildings with many walls or obstacles. Another advantage of operating in the unlicensed band is that utilities have lower solution costs.

COVID-19 and wireless technologies

In times of COVID-19 pandemic hazards, the use of wireless technologies is often a must, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. One of obvious choices for Internet of Things and home monitorng is Wireless M-Bus implementation.

TECHBASE has added high performance module for Wireless M-Bus connectivity and multi-hop networking into Moduino series expansion options. The module is configured as an embedded micro system or simple data modem for low power applications in the metering specifically allocated band of 169 MHz or in the ISM band of 868 MHz. The device is can be configured for interoperability in a WMBus network for Industrial IoT applications.

The RF implementation guarantees best-in-class performance in terms of covered area and power consumption. The output power can be increased up to +30 dBm on the 169 MHz band (+27 dBm on optimized version for highest power efficiency) and up to +15 dBm on the 868 MHz band. The extremely reduced power consumption gives access to long lasting battery life requirement (up to 2 μA in sleep mode for wireless M-Bus module with an RTC clock running).

The Moduino devices  can be provided with a W-MBus stack specifically developed by Embit for the platform that allows to integrate the module in the desired system without effort and simplify the interaction in WMBus networks.

NarrowBand-IoT the new black of Industrial IoT

The NB-IoT is becoming a standard in wireless communication of IoT devices, for standalone solutions and complex installations with thousands of units, coordinated with gateways. Will NarrowBand-IoT replace other wireless technologies in industrial automation?

What exactly is NarrowBand?

NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) is a radio technology in the field of LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) dedicated for IoT devices, operating on the licensed frequency band used by telecommunications operators.

The biggest advantages of NB-IoT include:

  • long battery life (up to 10 years),
  • efficiency in the amount of data transferred,
  • intra-building penetration,
  • the ability to connect even tens of thousands of devices in one system,
  • a global standard,
  • a high level of security and low cost

You can build mass solutions and those that until now were considered unprofitable. NB-IoT technology works in the licensed band, so there is no risk of interference and blocking communication by competing networks.

The service life of devices powered by two AA batteries is up to 10 years. However, the devices themselves are constructed in such a way that they can work for many years without the need for technical supervision and recharging the battery.

NB-IoT used in industrial solutions

One of many uses of NarrowBand-IoT wireless modems can be communication of edge devices, dedicated to data management, process control (e.g. with MQTT protocol) and monitoring. Latest ESP32-based eModGATE controller from TECHBASE company is a series utilizing MicroPython environment to provide data management solutions for end-points applications. The eModGATE has built-in Wi-Fi/BT modem and can be equipped with additional NarrowBand-IoT modems

eModGATE eqipped with wireless NB-IoT modem are perfect for industrial automation solutions, e.g. data logging, metering, telemetrics, remote monitoring, security and data management through all Industrial IoT applications.

Supported bandwidths:

  • Global-Band LTE CAT-M1:  B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B8/B12/B13/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28/B39;
  • Global-Band LTE CAT NB-IoT1:  B1/B2/B3/B5/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28;
  • GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900Mhz Control Via AT Commands

Supported data transfer:

  • LTE CAT-M1(eMTC) – Uplink up to 375kbps, Downlink up to 300kbps
  • NB-IoT – Uplink up to 66kbps, Downlink up to 34kbps
  • EDGE Class – Uplink up to 236.8Kbps, Downlink up to 236.8Kbps
  • GPRS – Uplink up to 85.6Kbps, Downlink up to 85.6Kbps

TECHBASE updates M500 devices with Raspberry Pi 4

The newest addition to TECHBASE’s Industrial IoT Ecosystem is an updated ModBerry M500 with latest Raspberry Pi 4 development board, equipped with a 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 processor (approximately 3 times better performance than previous Cortex-A53 powering Raspberry Pi 3+ Model B and Compute Module 3 and 3+). ModBerry M500 can be configured from 1GB / 2GB / 4GB LPDDR4 SDRAM options.

Gigabit Ethernet & USB 3.0 on-board

Another new and appreciated feature is an upgrade to full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet for fast network connection and 2x USB 3.0 / 2x USB 2.0 for additional I/O, data storage extension and fast wireless modem support. ModBerry M500 with Rasbperry Pi 4 has dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 on-board. For additional wireless networks expansions, you can choose from variety of Industrial IoT modems from TECHBASE offer, incl. 3G/LTE, NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT), Wireless M-Bus, ZigBee, LoRa, Sigfox, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and many more.

Enhanced Video support for RPi4

The full HDMI port has been replaced with two microHDMI ports with dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K, VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x and 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video. The device is fully compatible with previous versions of Rasbperry Pi based Industrial IoT devices and accessories from TECHBASE.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Modberry M500

Raspberry Pi 4 based ModBerry M500 availability

New ModBerry M500 with three variants of Raspberry Pi 4 based devices is available for pre-orders via https://iiot-shop.com/product/modberry-m-series/ For specific delivery time please contact us via e-mail or Live Chat, directly at Industrial IoT Shop.