LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

The emergence of an innovative technology is bound to fight against traditional technologies. It may be that the fish will die and the net will be destroyed. It may be a mutual compromise and peaceful coexistence.

The emergence of an innovative technology is bound to fight against traditional technologies. It may be that the fish will die and the net will be destroyed. It may be a mutual compromise and peaceful coexistence.

There are many wireless communication technologies in the Internet of Things, which are mainly divided into two categories: one is short-range communication technologies such as ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Z-wave; the other is LPWAN (low-powerWide-AreaNetwork, low-power wide area network). ), the WAN communication technology.

The rapid development of the Internet of Things has put forward higher requirements for wireless communication technology, and LPWAN, which is designed for low-bandwidth, low-power, long-distance, and massively connected IoT applications, is also rapidly emerging.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

Figure 1 LPWAN industry application

At present, LPWAN can be mainly divided into two categories: one is LoRa technology working in unlicensed spectrum; the other is NB-IoT working in licensed spectrum.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

Figure 2 Distribution of frequency band authorizations

LoRa module refers to an industrial-grade radio frequency wireless product developed based on Semtech’s SX127X series chips. Compared with traditional narrowband modulation technology, LoRa module adopts spread spectrum modulation technology, which has obvious advantages in suppressing the performance of co-channel interference. The traditional design scheme cannot take into account the disadvantages of distance, noise immunity and power consumption at the same time.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

NB-IoT refers to Narrow Band-Internet of Things (Narrow Band-Internet of Things) technology. It is a technology that works in licensed frequency bands. The core is for low-end IoT terminals (low current consumption). In fields such as production, it has great advantages for IoT applications with long distance, low speed, low power consumption and multiple terminals.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

In terms of technical solutions, LoRa and NB-IOT have something in common, but also have their own characteristics and shortcomings:

LoRa advantages:

l Compared with NB-IoT, LoRa is based on the Sub-GHz frequency band, which makes it easier to communicate over long distances with lower power consumption, and can be powered by batteries or other energy harvesting methods;

l The longer wavelength of the LoRa signal determines its penetration and obstacle avoidance ability;

l The receiving sensitivity is greatly improved, and the receiving sensitivity exceeding -148dBm enables the visual communication distance to reach 15 kilometers;

l Reduced power consumption, the receiving current is only 14mA, and the standby current is 1.7mA, which greatly delays the service life of the battery;

l Terminal and concentrator/gateway-based systems can support ranging and positioning. LoRa’s measurement of distance is based on the air transmission time of the signal instead of traditional RSSI, and its positioning accuracy can reach 5m (assuming a range of 10km).

NB-IOT Features:

l Wide coverage, which will provide improved indoor coverage. Under the same frequency band, NB-IoT has a gain of 20dB compared to the existing network, and the coverage area is expanded by 100 times;

l It has the ability to support massive connections. One NB-IoT sector can support 100,000 connections, supporting low latency sensitivity, ultra-low equipment cost, low equipment power consumption and optimized network architecture;

l Lower power consumption, the standby time of the NB-IoT terminal module can be up to 10 years; (if the terminal sends a 200Byte message once a day, the 5Wh battery life can reach 12.8 years)

l Lower module cost, about US$5 for a single connected module expected by the enterprise.

Table 1 LoRa and NB-IOT parameter comparison table




network technology

Linear spread spectrum


network deployment

Independent networking

Base station multiplexing

Working frequency


Carrier frequency band

Transmission distance

Long distance (1-15km)

Long distance (carrier signal)

Transmission rate



Number of connections



Power consumption

10 years (battery powered)

12.5 years (battery powered)


about $5

about $5-8

Comparison of LoRa and NB-IOT application scenarios adaptability:

1. Smart three-meter

Companies and departments involved in the field of smart three-meters require low-rate data transmission, frequent communication, and low latency. Since the three meters are gradually powered by batteries, more attention is paid to the requirements of ultra-low power consumption and long battery life. And it is also necessary to conduct real-time monitoring of the line network so as to deal with hidden dangers in time. ClassC of LoRaWAN can achieve low latency, and a private network is necessary for low transmission rates and frequent communication requirements.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

2. Smart Agriculture

For agriculture, low-power and low-cost sensors are urgently needed. The application of temperature and humidity, carbon dioxide, salinity and other sensors is of great significance for agriculture to increase production and reduce water consumption. These sensors need to upload data regularly. LoRa is very suitable for such scenarios. And many remote farms or arable land are not covered by cellular networks, let alone 4G/LTE, so NB-IoT is not as suitable for smart agriculture as LoRa.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

3. Automated Manufacturing

The operation of factory machines requires real-time monitoring, which can not only ensure production efficiency but also improve labor efficiency through remote monitoring. In automated manufacturing and production in factories, there are many different types of sensors and devices. Some scenarios require frequent communication and ensure good service quality, and NB-IoT is a more suitable choice. In some scenarios, low-cost sensors with low-power and long-life batteries are required to track devices and monitor status. At this time, LoRa is a reasonable choice. So for the diversity of automated manufacturing, both NB-IoT and LoRa are useful.

4. Smart buildings

For the renovation of the building, sensors such as temperature and humidity, safety, harmful gas, water flow monitoring are added and the monitoring information is regularly uploaded, which is convenient for managers to supervise and more convenient for users. Generally speaking, the communication of these sensors does not need to be particularly frequent or guarantee a particularly good quality of service, and portable home gateways can meet the needs. So LoRa is a more suitable choice for this scene.

5. Logistics tracking

An important requirement in the tracking or positioning market is the battery life of the terminal. Logistics tracking can be a practical example of a hybrid deployment. The logistics enterprise can deploy the network in the required place according to the needs of positioning, which can be in the warehouse or on the transportation vehicle. At this time, the portable base station will come in handy. LoRa can provide such a deployment solution, but for NB-IoT, the laying of base stations with too large tracking range is a big problem. At the same time, LoRa has a feature that the communication is more stable than NB-IoT when moving at high speed. For the above considerations, LoRa is more suitable for logistics tracking.

LoRa or NB-IOT? Who is the future of IoT?

Both LoRa and NB-IOT are still in the initial stage of development and require the investment and common development of all parties. When large-scale deployment becomes a reality, LoRa and NB-IOT modules will naturally decrease further. In the new wave of IoT development, only by implementing the project first can we win the opportunity to be one step ahead.

Zhiyuan Electronics is committed to building a perception control, interconnection, ZWS IOT cloud platform and service model ecosystem, and its wireless technology solutions basically cover all mainstream wireless technologies.

In addition to stable and high-performance RF modules, Zhiyuan Electronics has launched core modules that support secondary development for different applications and needs of customers. For example, the LoRa ad hoc network module focuses on breaking through the difficult problem of LoRa protocol development.

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