Lorawan architecture vs Lora architecture

In our previous article, we have discussed the basic difference between Lorawan and Lora, comparing lora to a fuel and lorawan to an engine. Now we will like to further elaborate on one key difference.

Before we elaborate, we need to understand one key difference between a Wide Area Network and a Personal Area Network. As their name suggest, wide area network usually refers to a network with no geographical boundary whereas a personal area network refers to one that is in a small confined area. While their differences are huge, let us just focus on one key difference:

In a Personal Area Network the communication is usually peer to peer or device to device.

In a Wide Area Network, countless devices are usually all communicating with each other.


LoRa on its own is primarily used in Personal Area Network. As it is used to allow one device to communicate to another in a small area, it is extremely easy and fast to set up with a topology that can be as simple as below. The situation that this will be set up is also straightforward: when it is difficult to lay additional cables.

lora architecture.png

As LoRa is meant for PAN, it also means that it does not cater much for cybersecurity, routing of data, remote management of terminal unit and connection to application layer. Noticeably, it’s primary cybersecurity mechanism lies in each manufacturer having it’s own method of encoding/decoding the lora signal (MAC layer security).


Again, as it name suggest, LoraWAN, unlike LoRa, is designed for Wide Area Network. With it being implemented in islandwide projects or across nations, there needs to be a way for the devices to be remotely managed. LoRaWAN network also carries the risk of it being highly accessible by unauthorized personnel; hence, cybersecurity is a consideration. With many devices connected to the same gateway, there is also a need for proper routing (and subnet design). There is also a need for the data to be easily pushed to application layer.

lorawan architecture.JPG

LoRaWAN architecture therefore often involves more components. Instead of being Point to Point, the end nodes need to be connected to a gateway that communicates with a network server. This network server is the one that will govern the routing of data, allows for remote management of the devices and provides for cybersecurity by issuing randomly generated security keys every time a new device connects to it. It also allows for the data to be easily accessible by authorized applications.

Being a key driver of Internet of Things, wireless represents a different way of doing things we were used to (for example, we will lay cable for each and every sensor in the past, connect it to an remote IO, then wire it up back to a server). Wireless will also become increasingly important with the boom of sensors. Network of sensors will be a key topic in the near future. To further understand these topics and terms, do keep a look out for our workshop.