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Wi-Fi and LoRa alliance get together to better tackle IoT

  • Peace has broken out between Wi-Fi and 5G for good business reasons
  • Now it appears that the same process is playing out between Wi-Fi and Lora in IoT
  • A white paper examining the potential of collaboration has been produced

This year has seen a ‘settlement’ of sorts between the Wi-Fi and cellular. With the onrush of 5G and its particular requirements (complementary indoor coverage) and the development of a highly sophisticated indoor technology in Wi-Fi 6 and its enhancements (its manageability) both ‘sides’ have decided that neither can ‘take over’ and elbow the other out, but that they can co-exist ecstatically (not just happily). They need each other and everyone is a winner because of it.

That settlement may have got the cogs turning in another part of the industry where opposing technology advocates have been jousting: Wi-Fi (again) and LoRaWAN. So IoT advocates have worked out that they, too, can work nicely together and can gain access to a wealth of new IoT use cases by combining two unlicensed connectivity technologies.

A new white paper released today by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and the LoRa Alliance is designed to put some meat on the bones of the contention that “new business opportunities that are created when Wi-Fi networks that are traditionally built to support critical IoT, are merged with LoRaWAN networks that are traditionally built to support low data rate massive IoT applications.”

The paper has been developed with input from mobile carriers, telecom equipment manufacturers and advocates of both connectivity technologies. Essentially, it points out that  massive IoT applications are less latency sensitive and have relatively low throughput requirements, but they require a huge volume of low-cost, low-energy consumption devices on a network with excellent coverage.


Wi-Fi connectivity on the other hand, covers short- and medium-range use cases at high data rates and may require more power, making it the preferable technology for people-centric mains-powered applications like real-time video and Internet browsing. Meanwhile, LoRaWAN covers long-range use cases at low data rates, making it the preferable technology for low bandwidth applications, including in hard to reach locations, such as temperature sensors in a manufacturing setting or vibration sensors in concrete.

So when utilized in conjunction with one another, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN networks optimize a number of IoT use cases, including:

  • Smart Building/Smart Hospitality: Both technologies have been deployed for decades throughout buildings, with Wi-Fi used for things like security cameras and high-speed Internet, and LoRaWAN used for smoke detection, asset and vehicle tracking, room usage and more. The paper identifies two scenarios for convergence of Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, including accurate asset tracking and location services for indoor or near buildings, as well as on-demand streaming for devices with battery limitations.
  • Residential Connectivity: Wi-Fi is used to connect billions of personal and professional devices in homes, while LoRaWAN is used for home security and access control, leak detection, and fuel tank monitoring, and many other applications.  The paper recommends deploying LoRaWAN picocells that leverage Wi-Fi backhaul to the user set top box to expand coverage of home services to the neighborhood. These “neighborhood IoT networks” can support new geolocation services, while also serving as a communication backbone for demand-response services.
  • Automotive & Smart Transportation: Currently, Wi-Fi is used for passenger entertainment and access control, while LoRaWAN is used for fleet tracking and vehicle maintenance. Hybrid use cases identified in the paper include location and video streaming.

“The reality is that no one single technology is going to fit the billions of IoT use cases,” said Donna Moore, CEO and Chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance. “It is collaborative initiatives like this one with Wi-Fi that will drive innovation to solve important issues, leverage an even broader range of applications and, ultimately, ensure the success of global mass IoT deployments in the future.”
The WBA and LoRa Alliance intend to continue exploring the convergence of Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN technologies.


Post time: Nov-24-2021