LoRa relay feature promises boost for meter reading

  • October 3, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

A collaboration between LoRaWan specialists has seen the world’s first commercial implementation and end-to-end interoperability test for a feature that could be a game change for meter reader applications.

LoRa Alliance members Semtech, Actility, Arad and Deviceroy say this advancement lets LoRaWan packets from remote, isolated or hard to reach devices be relayed by battery-operated relay nodes. This coverage extension is provided through a low-cost option further lowering the total cost of ownership of LoRaWan deployment.

The relay feature promises to be a game changer for LoRaWan-based use cases such as water, gas and electricity metering, where stringent service level agreements demand cost efficient and unparalleled coverage for all devices within a geographical footprint.

The LoRa Alliance (lora-alliance.org) is an open, non-profit association with the mission to support and promote the global adoption of the LoRaWan standard. The relay feature using LoRaWan is defined by the LoRa Alliance as an integral part of the LoRaWan standard.

Semtech (www.semtech.com) has integrated the relay feature for both end devices and relay nodes into its latest LoRa Basics Modem v4 stack. This integration fortifies the potential of LoRaWan to provide low-cost coverage and connectivity across various applications.

Actility (actility.com) has integrated the relay feature using LoRaWan into its ThingPark Wireless and ThingPark Enterprise network platforms in release 7.3. This inclusion is also available in the free-to-use community edition of ThingPark, which can be immediately used by developers to test their relay implementations using LoRaWan.

Deviceroy (deviceroy.com) plays a pivotal role with Aria Relay serving as a range extender for LoRaWan. Aria Relay ensures bidirectional connectivity, enabling data between remote or isolated devices and their destinations to flow reliably, expanding network coverage.

The three vendors – Semtech, Actility, and Deviceroy – have completed interoperability testing and achieved reliable end-to-end bidirectional communication with devices that can connect only through a LoRaWan-based relay. This achievement underscores the reliability and seamlessness of the relay feature in real-world scenarios.

Water metering company Arad is poised to deploy the relay feature using LoRaWan within its water meter networks. This implementation has the potential to change utility management, offering connectivity in even the most difficult environments.

The introduction of the relay feature using LoRaWAN could signal a new era in IoT connectivity, reshaping the possibilities for a more connected future across industries by letting users add battery-operated, easy-to-deploy relay nodes that act as network extenders. These relay nodes can be placed in remote locations or in areas where signal strength is weak due to extreme distances or circumstances, effectively extending the range of existing gateways and networks using LoRaWan connectivity.