After our post on SensorLoRa™, a few people asked us specifically about LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® in the United Kingdom. First we should point out that SensorLoRa™ uses LoRa™ and not LoRaWAN®. LoRa™ is the patented digital wireless data communication technology protocol while LoRaWAN® is a higher level communication protocol that runs on top of LoRa™ that provides extra features.
Both LoRa™ and LoRaWAN® use the 868Mhz radio frequency that is license exempt in the UK. This doesn’t mean you can use this frequency as you like. There is set a set of rules defined by EU ETSI EN300.220 (pdf) the most pertinent of which is the duty cycle that defines for how long a transmitter can transmit.
LoRaWAN® imposes extra rules and a more onerous usage policy on top of than that required by the EU rules and also requires the use of a LoRaWAN® server. In the UK, LoRaWAN® is usually synonymous with The Things Network although you can, for a fee, run your own LoRaWAN® Things Network.
For SensorLoRa™ we don’t need the extra facilities provided by LoRaWAN®. We just need point to point communication. Our customers also usually don’t like shared servers. Hence, we only use LoRa™ rather than LoRaWAN® thus providing a private, separate, minimal network with no fees that’s only constrained by duty cycle for LoRa™. This doesn’t preclude us using LoRaWAN® for custom solutions, it’s that in most cases it isn’t needed.