In this article we will see what are the differences between LoRa vs LoRaWAN. Let's start by describing each of these terms.

What is LoRa?

LoRa is an acronym for the words long-range (Long Range in English) and refers to a wireless modulation technique based on spread spectrum, developed from technology chirp spread spectrum (CSS) .

LoRa a proprietary technology developed by semtech, so all the chips LoRa are manufactured by this company. However, this does not prevent these chips from being widely used by other manufacturers, who offer all kinds of products with LoRa interfaces.

What is LoRa technology and why is it important for IoT

Long range, low power and low bitrate

These are the three factors that characterize LoRa technology.

In wireless communications there is always a compromise relationship between these three factors, so the improvement in one or two of them affects the third. In this way, with LoRa, long distances and a very low power consumption are obtained, at the expense of a very low bitrate (up to 21 kbits/s).

However, having a low bitrate does not make it impossible to send a few bytes from remote nodes. This makes LoRa an ideal technology for connecting IoT devices in circumstances where other technologies are not applicable.

Let's think for example of a sensor that is in the open field, 20 km from the nearest site that has electricity and Internet connection. A LoRa device with a small battery could transmit for years without the need to replace the battery.

Types of connections

Since LoRa refers only to the type of modulation used, this technology can be used both for connection to LoRaWAN gateways, or simply to connect two LoRa nodes.

For this reason, a solution that uses LoRa should not necessarily be a LoRaWAN network (we will see what this means). In this way, it is possible to use LoRa modulation to connect two or more devices over long distances.

LoRa – Features and Applications

What is LoRaWAN?

To put it quickly, LoRa represents the physical layer within a LoRaWAN network. Thus, LoRaWAN is a wide area network within the LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) group.

Therefore, the term LoRaWAN refers to a network of LoRa nodes that communicate through gateways and whose messages are managed by a network server ( network server ) . At this point it should be clarified that with the LoRaWAN 1.1.1 version the join server, responsible for the authentication of IoT devices.

In this way, the entire device registration process is separated from the network server, which implies an improvement from the security point of view.

In the following figure we can see a typical architecture of LoRaWAN (version 1.0).

Source: https://www.semtech.com/lora/what-is-lora

LoRaWAN – BW, SF and bitrate

How is the LoRaWAN architecture

What is the network server for?

The network server has several functions:

  • Until version 1.0.x it was responsible for the authentication of the nodes, as of version 1.1 this function is performed by the join server.
  • The main function of the network server is the handling of received messages. That is, the routing of messages, the elimination of duplicate messages and the discarding of messages that do not belong to the network.
  • With version 1.1, network servers can forward messages to other network servers, if there is an active forwarding policy. roaming between providers.
  • Finally, the web server provides the data that is used by the application server to present the information to the user.


When we evaluate LoRa vs LoRaWAN, we see that actually LoRa is part of LoRaWAN, but we can also use LoRa without implementing LoRaWAN.

In simple projects, using LoRa technology without building a LoRaWAN network can be enough. While for more complex projects and with a considerable number of nodes, it is convenient to create a LoRaWAN network.

In other words, a LoRaWAN network offers scalability, security, and management.

If you are interested in knowing more about LoRaWAN, here are some articles and videos.

1 Comment

How to connect TTGO LoRa32 with the Dragino LG02 gateway - Your expert source in IoT · 20 April, 2021 at 10:28 AM

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