LoRaWAN vs. NB-IoT in IoT Device Deployment

By Sunil Sonkar
2 Min Read
LoRaWAN vs. NB-IoT in IoT Device Deployment

In the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations have a crucial decision to make when setting up and managing their IoT devices—the choice of connectivity. This choice has a big impact on important factors like how long the device battery lasts, where it can connect and how dependable it is overall. Among the leading contenders in IoT connectivity are LoRaWAN (low-range wide-area network) and NB-IoT (narrowband IoT).

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LoRaWAN, a non-cellular, low-power, wide-area network, excels in connecting numerous devices in extensive IoT scenarios. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use across vast areas, it supports low-complexity devices for extended lifecycles, boasting wireless connectivity for battery-powered devices over distances of up to 10 kilometers. In contrast, NB-IoT is a standards-based, low-power, wide-area technology specified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Operating within existing GSM operator networks, it offers lower data throughput but enhances user device power consumption, system capacity and spectrum efficiency.

Security considerations vary between the two options. NB-IoT relies on cellular plus SIM security, enabling robust authentication and encryption/integrity between devices and networks. On the other hand, LoRaWAN employs a proprietary handshake authentication and key generation process for authentication and ciphering/integrity.

When it comes to network availability, LoRaWAN’s flexibility shines. Unlike NB-IoT, which operates in licensed spectrum and relies on cellular network providers, LoRaWAN devices can be deployed anywhere including remote or rural areas without 4G coverage or indoor/underground settings. The cost factor further tilts in favor of LoRaWAN, operating in unlicensed bands with a more flexible deployment and operation cost structure compared to the licensed-band-dependent NB-IoT.

Choosing between LoRaWAN and NB-IoT hinges on the specific IoT application. LoRaWAN suits scenarios requiring large coverage areas or deployments in radiofrequency-hostile environments, while NB-IoT is preferable for IP-based communication in multinational deployments.

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