LoRaWAN Network Server Advice | Case Study

LoRaWAN Gateway Coverage

Following extensive trials with LoRaWAN with some success, our partner approached Concept13 seeking a LoRaWAN Network Server Comparison. Given the advances in LoRaWAN, the number of new entrants into the LoRaWAN Network Server market and the move by some LoRaWAN Gateway players into the LoRaWAN Network Server market, the choice was not easy. Decisions on whether to remain vendor agnostic. Consideration of current and future LoRaWAN technologies such as Class C, Multicast and GeoLocation. The reliability, availability and performance of the servers. And of course sensible commercials and a suitable long-term partner.

Concept13 knew first hand the critical dependency a partner might have on a LNS in such long-term plans. The effort required from moving one LoRaWAN Network Server vendor to another taking serious effort and planning. For a business relying on the insights, the dependability of results from the LNS being absolutely critical to their reputation and success. The decision of finding the right partner, who will perform, deliver long term stability and be a strategic partner for the future being critical. The financial consideration in moving from the attractive and free public networks to paid for services often hard to realise and justify.

Concept13 started by undertaking an assessment of the market including both opensource, free public networks like The Things Network and Things Connected, alongside commercial enterprise and carrier grade networks including Orbiwise and Loriot. The opportunity to run in-house, have managed on-premise, or managed in-cloud. Ten solutions where identified and subsequently short-listed to three providers., The Things Network provided as the fourth under the assessment as a baseline to their current solution. Each LoRaWAN Network Server vendor contacted and sample accounts created on each platform.

A careful considered and strategic LoRaWAN Network Server Comparison was made of the four platforms. (1) Functional analysis of each platform looking at setup, ease & clarity, comfort. (2) Reliability with live performance analysis of traffic for 1, 7 & 28 days. (3) Deep dive in the LoRaWAN functionality and future support for new features. (4) Distinctive differences in the features which set apart one LNS from another. The work took over a month to complete and provided demonstrable and audited results as an independent comparison. A separate professional opinion was then provided by Concept13 as to its own recommendations.

The results are confidential to the Partner, but there are four points which stand out.

(1) The definition of LoRaWAN by the LoRaWAN alliance dictates a natural checklist and compliance for most LoRaWAN Network Servers to adhere to. The measure of a serious LoRaWAN Network Server provider is someone who is at the forefront of new features and innovation and a major net contributor to emerging standards.

(2) The reliability of each LoRaWAN Network Server is as much dictated by the Service Level Agreement offered by the Vendor as it is the users you share your network with. Simply no comparison can be made between a public and free shared The Things Network and an enterprise grade private Tenant or private Instance.

(3) When you select a LoRaWAN Network Server Vendor, you are making the most serious, strategic and long lasting decision of your use of LoRaWAN. Switching LNS providers is complex unless you plan ahead. Spend the time to assess and get to know your LNS vendor – it is critical to your long term success.

(4) Not all LoRaWAN Network Servers are the same. The most advanced will implement features like Adaptive Data Rate, Duty Cycle management, Gateway optimisation, Quality of Service that will impact every part of your solution in ways you may never expect. By example a serious LNS may double the battery life of a sensor.

Our personal advice….

The LoRaWAN Network Server is the beating heart of your LoRaWAN network which will drive your success, long term viability and your reputational success. Switching LoRaWAN Network Servers through choice or enforced by outages (or new fees), will never be easy and might otherwise artificially lock you in. Plan ahead, do your research, consider the impact a carrier grade LNS will have on your solution, and maintain an up-to-date LoRaWAN Network Server switching strategy. Ensure your Sensors support link check (or similar), ensure your Gateways can be switched remotely, and always put the LNS at the core of your strategic planning.

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