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LoRaWAN vs NB-IoT Showdown: The Dawn of Justice

Updated: Sep 13


Looking up details of LPWAN technologies on the Ellenex website

Hey there, tech-savvy readers! Today, we're diving headfirst into the exciting world of IoT connectivity, where two heavyweight contenders, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, are duking it out for IoT supremacy. Get ready for a showdown of epic proportions because this battle is about to get wild!


According to Statista, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT accounted for more than 80% of all LPWAN connections in 2023.


Round 1: LoRaWAN - The Lone Wolf

In the blue corner, we have LoRaWAN, the mysterious, long-range IoT connectivity protocol that's been taking the world by storm. LoRaWAN stands for "Long Range Wide Area Network," and it's got a secret weapon: LoRa, or Low-Power Wide-Area Radio. This technology is like the Batman of IoT, working silently in the shadows, covering vast distances with its low-power signals.


Picture this: LoRaWAN sensors are like stealthy ninjas, lurking in the shadows, ready to transmit data from the most remote corners of the earth. Whether it's tracking your missing pet or monitoring soil moisture levels in your backyard, LoRaWAN's got you covered.


Round 2: NB-IoT - The Cellular Sensation

And in the red corner, we have NB-IoT, the cellular sensation! NB-IoT, or Narrowband IoT, is the poster child for cellular IoT connectivity. It's like the Iron Man of the IoT world, flaunting its cellular muscles and global reach.


NB-IoT is all about efficiency and reliability. With its robust cellular infrastructure, it can penetrate walls, reach deep underground, and even keep your smart toaster connected while it's hiding in the kitchen cupboard.


In 2022, the LPWAN market exceeded a value of USD 5 billion, and experts anticipate a remarkable growth trajectory, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of approximately 50% from 2023 to 2032.


Technology comparison
ref.: mokolora.com

Round 3: The Battle for Battery Life

Now, let's talk battery life. In the world of IoT, power is king! LoRaWAN, with its low-power approach, can make a battery last for years, making it perfect for remote, low-maintenance applications like monitoring the temperature of your grandma's basement wine cellar. Moreover, it's so energy-efficient that your IoT device will outlast your grandma’s great granduncle’s wife’s sister’s best friend’s Toyota Corolla (and those cars last for centuries)!


On the other hand, NB-IoT is no slouch either. It is optimised for low-power consumption, making it suitable for devices that need a reliable connection without constantly draining their batteries. In fact, NB-IoT devices are so efficient that your smartphone battery might start getting jealous!

When it comes to the numbers, our LoRaWAN devices are sending in an average 20,000 data points, while the number for our NB IoT devices is around 10,000 by using our customised UDP protocol.

Round 4: Coverage and Cost

When it comes to cost, LoRaWAN has an ace up its sleeve. It can cover massive areas with relatively few gateways, making it a cost-effective choice for wide-scale IoT deployments. Think of it as the David of IoT, challenging the Goliath of traditional cellular networks.


NB-IoT, on the other hand, boasts the backing of existing cellular infrastructure and, therefore, has better coverage. It's like the well-funded corporation in this tech showdown, promising excellent coverage in urban areas and seamless handovers between cells.


An interesting fact worth noting; the coverage of LoRaWAN is relatively stable (in cities, suburbs, and rural areas) since it does not rely on cellular data or WIFI. Whereas NB-IoT works better in cities. This difference is very minute and solely depends on the location or region of the IoT product.

One important point to calculate the cost is the initial cost of the gateway for LoRaWAN and the cost for network servers and gateway maintenance. Considering these two factors, in most cases, LoRaWAN is not necessarily the cheaper option. It needs a more detailed calculation by considering your specific application.


Coverage/Battery vs Cost

Round 5: Security Smackdown

Both LoRaWAN and NB-IoT take security seriously. LoRaWAN uses strong encryption and device authentication, ensuring your data stays safe in transit. NB-IoT, riding on the coattails of cellular technology, offers a robust security framework to protect your IoT gadgets from prying eyes.


However, NB-IoT takes the edge on security, as it uses 256-bit 3GPP encryption versus LoRaWAN’s AES 128-bit encryption.


Round 6: Compatibility Clash

When it comes to compatibility, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT have their quirks. LoRaWAN networks may not be as readily available as their NB-IoT counterparts, but they're often more versatile and can work with a variety of network providers. It's like they're the cool, laid-back friends who can hang out with anyone at the IoT party.


On the other hand, NB-IoT devices, while it is easier to get and use them, may be tied to specific carriers. They're like that friend who insists on dragging you to their favourite karaoke joint because they've got a loyalty card that gets them free snacks. Hey, who doesn't love free snacks, right?


Round 7: Future Forecast

They cater to different niches, and their coexistence is a testament to the diverse needs of the IoT landscape. In the crystal ball of IoT, the future is hazy, but both LoRaWAN and NB-IoT are here to stay….


Maybe one day, a new contender will emerge or maybe these two might evolve into something even more incredible. Well, who knows? I’m no fortune teller.

LoRaWAN

NB-IoT

Year Developed

2015

2017

Transmission Coverage

12 - 15 km

18 - 20 km

Cost

Lower cost (a little)

Higher cost

Battery Performance

Longer battery life

Shorter battery life

Throughput

50 Kbps

60 Kbps

Data Transfer Rate

Lower rate

Higher rate (~10x LoRa rate)

Security

AES 128 bit

3GPP 256 bit

Private Network Capability

Yes, in a very low cost

Yes, but very expensive

Frequency Band

Unlicensed spectrum

Licensed frequency bands

Peak Current

32 mA

120 mA

Sleep Current

1 µA

5 µA

NB-IoT holds the leading market share with 47%, followed by LoRa at 36% market share. The significant rest consisting of Sigfox and other technologies.

Final Verdict: It's a Tie!

In this epic IoT showdown, there's no clear winner. LoRaWAN and NB-IoT both have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them depends on your specific IoT project's requirements.

It’s a bit disheartening to realise that the showdown is a tie. It’s a bit like watching the 2023 Ashes all over again. Anyway, we’ve explored the strengths and quirks of both technologies, laughed at a few jokes, and hopefully, you’ve gained some valuable insights into the IoT world.


What can we, at Justice League (Ellenex) do to help?

First of all, we have both and love both.

If the epic LoRaWAN vs NB-IoT showdown has left you scratching your head, wondering which one is better for your specific needs, fear not! We at Ellenex are here to guide you through this IoT adventure.


We are of the first companies to offer these two technologies to the market and gained lots of experience in the field to support our clients in the best way. Our team of experts understands the nuances of both LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, and we're ready to help you navigate the waters of IoT connectivity. Whether you're tracking herds of migrating turtles, monitoring your rooftop solar panels, or just making your smart home even smarter, we've got the solutions to your IoT problems.


We'll work closely with you to understand your project requirements, budget constraints, and long-term goals. Then, we'll recommend the best connectivity solution that fits like a glove. Plus, we'll provide you with top-notch support every step of the way.

At Ellenex, we understand that one size doesn’t fit all in the world of IoT connectivity. That’s why we offer both LoRaWAN and NB-IoT products (along with others) for our clients. With us, the power of choice is in your hands!


Conclusion

So, whether you’re team LoRaWAN, cheering for the underdog, or team NB-IoT, siding with the cellular heavyweight, the IoT world has a place for both. Get out there, experiment, and let your IoT gadgets roam freely in the digital wilderness.


In the end, it's not about which technology is better; it's about choosing the one that fits your IoT adventure like a glove. Happy IoT-ing, folks! May your data streams be strong, and your battery life be everlasting!




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