We often notice that the terms LoRa and LoRaWAN get confused with each other. Hence, it is important to understand the differences between the two.
Although LoRa has been around for a while, LoRa chipsets have evolved to the point where they consume less and less power in the last few years. This improvement makes LoRa ideal for battery-powered IoT devices that transmit only small amounts of data at a maximum speed of 27 Kbps. Common examples of LoRa implementation include asset tracking, smart meters, detection equipment, smart parking and agricultural field monitoring.
From a network perspective, LoRa only creates the wireless transport, for example by means of a transceiver chip. That means it lacks the right network protocols to manage the traffic of the data.
LoRaWAN is an open, cloud-based protocol designed and maintained by the LoRa Alliance that allows devices to communicate wirelessly with LoRa. In essence, LoRaWAN takes the wireless LoRa technology and adds a network component to it, while also incorporating node authentication and data encryption for security.
LoRa and LoRaWAN are both commonly used for IoT devices, but each has its own capabilities and applications. LoRa technology provides a way to use wireless spectrum without a license, but lacks the networking capabilities needed for management. LoRaWAN is a protocol that builds on top of LoRa and creates the network layer.