LPWAN overview

Driving innovation in LPWAN through an integrated approach

The proliferation of Internet of Things applications has led to the development of new wireless communication technologies like LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network). LPWAN is ideal for meeting the requirements of IoT applications with a large number of connections. It offers long range, low power usage and lower infrastructure cost during installation to link IoT applications with a huge number of nodes. 

Currently, three technologies are catering to different requirements in the LPWAN market. The first is a protocol that operates in the unlicensed spectrum, best represented by LoRa technology. The second operates in the licensed spectrum, such as NB-IoT, a protocol which is supported by the 3GPP. The third is a protocol that operates the Ultra Narrow Band Radio in the unlicensed spectrum, a prime example being Sigfox

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Main features of the different LPWAN technologies

LoRa, NB-IoT and Sigfox each offers different key features:


Sigfox is based on Ultra Narrow Band Radio with higher sensitivity. Of the three LPWAN technologies, Sigfox can reach the longest communication distance (30 – 50km in theory). It also has the lowest power consumption, extending battery life. It is ideal for IoT applications that require efficient data transmission over vast distances. 


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NB-IoT is based on cellular technology and its gain is 20dB higher than the current network with a coverage area that is 100 times larger. One sector can support connections from 100,000 nodes, and the terminal module has a standby time of up to 10 years. With its larger bandwidth, NB-IoT is better suited for scenarios with larger coverage, frequent data transmission, and long-term power supply.

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LoRa is based on chirp spread spectrum technology and has higher sensitivity. Its communication distance can exceed 15km. RX current is only 10mA with sleep current going down to 200nA. Each network can process 5 million messages sent between nodes every day while positioning precision can reach 5m. LoRa is suitable for applications where there are low-power and low-cost coverage of key areas.

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Connecting the different parties with the latest technologies

In the IoT ecosystem, there is currently a gap when connecting the different devices to applications through network operators. Users need to subscribe to access different application services through Network Operators.  Device manufacturers have to deal with the many customization requests created by IoT for different use cases. Service providers need to look for valuable data to implement different application services to users. Avnet can customize solution designs and bundle the required data to service providers through network operators. 

Avnet is able to provide an integrated ecosystem that connects different parties with all the three types of LPWAN technologies. Through this integrated approach, we can support and drive innovation and IoT initiatives for our customers.  Among the use cases we have successfully implemented are those for fleet management and bike sharing.


Avnet a key enabler for IoT development LPWAN


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