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LPWAN technologies and their applications

Published 25.04.2023

Anyone who is concerned with the Internet of Things (IoT) has probably come across the term LPWAN. But what is it and what are its advantages? In this article you will learn everything you need to know about LPWAN and its use cases.

What is LPWAN?

LPWAN, Low Power Wide Area Network, refers to technologies and network protocols that are used to network wireless devices. The technologies enable the transmission of small amounts of data over long distances with extremely low energy consumption. They are divided into licensed and non-licensed technologies.

Advantages of LPWAN technologies

Die Hauptvorteile der Technologie sind bereits im Namen enthalten: Low Power und Wide Area. Der geringe Energiebedarf erhöht die Batterielebensdauer der Geräte erheblich, so dass diese in der Regel über mehrere Jahre wartungsfrei betrieben werden können. Die hohe Reichweite ermöglicht die Verbindung von Geräten über mehrere Kilometer hinweg, was besonders in ländlichen und abgelegenen Gebieten von Vorteil ist. Damit verbunden ist eine hohe Durchdringung von Objekten und Materialien. Im Vergleich zu höherfrequenten Funktechnologien wie zum Beispiel Wi-Fi oder Bluetooth, durchdringen LPWAN Signale Hindernisse wie Wände und Gebäude sehr gut.

In addition to the low energy requirements and the high range, licence-free networks provide additional popularity. This is because they do not incur any licensing costs.

Den Vorteilen gegenüber stehen jedoch die niedrigen Datenraten, denn diese bewegen sich meistens in einem Bereich von wenigen 100 bit/s bis hin zu einigen 100 Kbit/s. Somit eignen sich die Technologien hauptsächlich für Anwendungsfälle, welche mit einer geringen Bandbreite auskommen.

What technologies and standards are there?


LoRaWAN stands for Long Range Wide Area Network and is a licence-free radio standard of the LoRa Alliance. The radio standard uses licence-free frequency bands, which can vary from country to country. In Europe and many other countries, the technology uses the 868 MHz or 433 MHz frequency bands, while in North America it uses the 915 MHz frequency band.

The networks can be built locally or globally and provide a secure and scalable infrastructure for IoT applications. The technology is supported by various manufacturers and service providers and is an important part of the growing IoT ecosystem.


NB-IoT stands for Narrowband Internet of Things and is a radio standard for the Internet of Things (IoT). The standard uses existing mobile networks and has a very narrow bandwidth, which makes it very energy-efficient.

NB-IoT networks use existing LTE masts and antennas that are well developed. So, unlike LoRaWAN and Sigfox, using NB-IoT requires no investment in network infrastructure, regardless of where the devices are located in the world. This, in turn, allows manufacturers to develop internet-enabled devices that can connect right out of the box.

LTE-M (Cat-M2)

LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machines), auch als Cat-M2 bekannt, ist eine lizenzierte Variante des 4G-LTE-Netzwerks, das auch für die schnelle Übertragung von Daten und die Nutzung mobiler Breitbanddienste für Smartphones und Tablets verwendet wird. Im Vergleich zu anderen LPWAN-Technologien verfügt LTE-M über eine wesentlich bessere Datenrate. Zudem finden IoT-Geräte welche LTE-M nutzen fast überall eine gute Verbindung, da 4G das am weitesten verbreitete Mobilfunknetz ist.


Sigfox is a French company that offers an eponymous licensed LPWAN network for the Internet of Things (IoT). Like other LPWAN technologies, Sigfox is specifically designed for the transmission of small amounts of data from IoT devices. For this purpose, the network uses the radio frequencies 868 MHz in Europe and 902 MHz in the USA. Sigfox is only approved by a few network operators per country. Thus, network coverage of Sigfox varies regionally and depends on the availability of Sigfox base stations. In addition, the transmission capacity of Sigfox is very limited. Only 140 messages with up to 12 bytes each can be sent or 8 bytes received per day.

Areas of application

LPWAN technologies are used almost everywhere where a wireless connection is needed, but the data transmission rate and data volume requirements are relatively small. In the area of smart cities, LPWAN networks can be used, for example, to monitor environmental conditions such as air quality and noise levels. The technologies are also suitable for monitoring car parks or waste containers.

Another area of application is Asset Tracking, dabei geht es um die Lokalisierung und Überwachung von beweglichen Objekten wie Fahrzeuge, Geräte oder Transportbehälter. Mit den drahtlosen Technologien können diese Objekte in Echtzeit verfolgt werden wodurch eine effizientere Lieferkette ermöglicht wird.

In agriculture, LPWAN networks can be used to monitor soil moisture, temperature and other parameters. This increases crop yields and reduces water consumption.

Weitere Anwendungsfälle könnten sein:

  • Intelligent building and energy management
  • Monitoring of supply and disposal systems
  • System monitoring
  • Supply chain management
  • Intelligent traffic and transport management
  • Health and medical applications
  • Home automation and smart home solutions

Overall, LPWAN offers a cost-effective and practicable solution for networking devices and transmitting small amounts of data over longer distances. Although the data rates are limited compared to other technologies, they are sufficient for very many use cases and enable reliable and, above all, energy-saving networking.


Ivo Frank

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