LoRaWAN is a communication technology designed for low power, low data devices. It allows up to 100 sensors devices to connect to a single gateway up to 15km away by line of sight. Buildings, trees, and deep gullies will reduce the transmission distance achieved and it may be only 3-4 kms in some areas. The main benefit of LoraWAN your contol over the network and the lower running costs per device.

An essential part of the LoRaWAn system is the gateway, which receives data from all the sensors, and then sends this data to the cloud. 

gateway rak7249

The LoRaWAN security protocol dictates that all data is encrypted on the device, and will be passed blindly through the gateway to your organisation's endpoint, where they are decoded. This means that gateways can pass messages, but they cannot read them.

The cost saving principle around LoRaWAN is that devices communicate with the gateway over a local network and only the gateway itself requires a simcard to pass on messages to the cloud. Even better than that if there is wi-fi available where you install the gateway, the gateway can use that wi-fi to send its data to the cloud.

The LoRaWAN messages specifficaly transmit very small amounts of data and are not designed for sending movies or CCTV. However a lot of information can be extracted from a small amount of data. For example, a gate open can be recorded as "0" and a gate closed as "1", and since we know the location of the device and the time the message is sent, we can start to get a rich picture of what's happening at that gate over time, all from a "0" or a "1".

Sending small amounts of data more extends the battery life of the device. LoRaWAN devices can be expected to last years in the field before the battery requires changing. Battery life is relative to the power used for each transmission, so if your gateway is close the device will use less power, and less battery per transmission. If your gateway is far the device must use more power per transmission and the battery will not last as long. 

Also note that  battery life is directly related to how often data is sent. So if all other things are equal, the battery on a tank sensor transmitting levels twice a day will last 12 times as long as the same device transmitting every hour.

TNN mapper is a site that displays LoRaWAN coverage:

TNN mapper

Gateways can be set as "private" or "public" and allow any conforming device to connect. This means neighbours can share gateways and increase their individual coverage areas. 

Note that different countries have different LoRaWAN standards and you must match the device type with the gateway type for it to connect. In Australia we use both AU915 and AS923 standards, so make sure to check this.

gateway on farm