FAQ's

Here are some of the more common questions we’re asked. If you don’t find what your seeking please don’t hesitate to email us and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.

IOT refers to sensors/monitoring devices (things) which are connected to the internet to a cloud-based network server.

The server allows the data/information from the “things” to be used and interpreted by applications and third-party software.

These devices are referred to as “Nodes” and each one has its own specific purpose. New nodes are frequently being designed, created and released. They are already able to record such things as water levels (tanks/dams), water flow (irrigation), soil moisture, temperature, wind velocity, barometric pressure, fence tension, weight, location (GPS), identity, proximity, altitude, velocity, activity, motion and all exceptions.

Every device has its specific capability and is activated, powered via mains, solar, wind or battery.

This active function allows the devices to connect to the network to transmit and receive data.

Receiving data is known as bi-directional and is only available on certain networks.

As these devices have particular functions their limitations are driven by necessity. The necessary size and weight of an eartag, for example, means this is the most limited. Network connectivity requires power output, power-driven by battery size is directly related to weight. In which case an eartags network connection range and signal frequency is limited by its weight.

Other devices have more physical limitations which relate to space or their ability to function in certain environments. As agriculture can be considered a particularly harsh environment given wind, rain, frost and UV degradation, AgriWAN specifically reviews and tests all devices submitted to be certified by AgriWAN as “fit for purpose”.

In many instances AgriWAN act as consultants assisting devices makers to improve their physical designs which to allow technology which may have originally been developed for cities, to be used in Agriculture.

In some cases where devices don’t exist or functionality is limited AgriWAN may also commission specialist manufacturing partners to produce them.

AgriWAN benefits from a number of unique functions available using GeoWAN or NB-IOT. One key benefit is bi-directional communication. This means that devices can be activated over the network to carry out functions. For instance, a device providing data such as low soil moisture can trigger another device to activate an irrigation pump. Likewise a water level monitor can trigger the an irrigation pump to switch off over the network.

AgriWAN specialize in Low Power Wide Area Networks LPWAN). These allow for distance and frequency of communication while requiring less power enabling devices to function.

In the LPWAN spectrum there are 3 main options; LoRaWAN, NBIoT and SigFox.

Long Range Wide Area Network ( LoRaWAN ) is a low-power wireless network protocol. The LoRaWAN specification is set by the LoRa Alliance, is freely available and utilizes Semtech Corporation’s proprietary Chirp Spread Spectrum Modulation technique “LoRa”.

It is asymmetrically aligned with the energy efficiency of the IoT devices and achieves high ranges (> 10 km ) for the uplink communication, ie the transmission from the IoT device to the network. The data transfer rate ranges between 292 bps and 50 kilobits per second. Different operating levels down to a quasi-continuous downlink Communication is possible, the latter at the expense of energy efficiency.

The network architecture is star-shaped. Terminals communicate with gateways that send the data packets to a network server. The network server has interfaces to connect to IoT platforms and applications.

LoRaWAN uses regionally different frequency ranges in the ISM band and SRD band. Among other things, in Europe these are the frequency band from 433.05 to 434.79 MHz (ISM Band Region 1) and the frequency band from 863 to 870 MHz ( SRD Band Europe). In North America, on the other hand, the frequency band from 902 to 928 MHz (ISM band region 2) has been released for data transmission.

The ranges extend from 2 km (urban area) over 15 km (suburbs) to 40 km (rural areas). Another great advantage is the penetration of buildings, as it can also be supplied to a certain extent underground premises.

The power consumption of terminals is around 10 mA and 100 nA in sleep mode. This allows a battery life of 2 to 15 years, depending on the application. The communication between the terminals and the gateways takes place on different frequency channels with different data rates. These are between 0.3 kbit / s and 50 kbit / s.

In order to achieve high efficiency in data transfer and energy consumption, LoRaWAN uses frequency spread. Interference can be avoided as much as possible. The data transfer rates to the terminals are adapted by the network server to the respective situation (ADR = adaptive data rate).

The communication in the LoRaWAN is encrypted in duplicate with 128 bit AES, on the one hand to the network server and on the other to the application server.

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services.[1][2] The specification was frozen in 3GPP Release 13 (LTE Advanced Pro), in June 2016.[3] Other 3GPP IoT technologies include eMTC(enhanced Machine-Type Communication) and EC-GSM-IoT.

NB-IoT focuses specifically on indoor coverage, low cost, long battery life, and high connection density.

NB-IoT uses a subset of the LTE standard but limits the bandwidth to a single narrow-band of 200kHz. It uses OFDM modulation for downlink communication and SC-FDMA for uplink communications.

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), also known as LTE Cat NB1 is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Technology developed for the Internet of things. The NB-IoT specification was frozen in Release 13 of the 3GPP specification (LTE-Advanced Pro), in June 2016. Release 13 defined 14 frequency bands for NB-IoT. In, Release 14 4 more frequency bands were added (11, 25, 31 and 70).

NB-IoT Frequency Bands

NB-IoT Band Uplink Band Downlink Band Bandwidth Duplex Mode
B1 1920 – 1980 MHz 2110 – 2170 MHz 60 MHz HD-FDD
B2 1850 – 1910 MHz 1930 – 1990 MHz 60 MHz HD-FDD
B3 1710 – 1785 MHz 1805 – 1880 MHz 75 MHz HD-FDD
B5 824 – 849 MHz 869 – 894 MHz 25 MHz HD-FDD
B8 880 – 915 MHz 925 – 960 MHz 25 MHz HD-FDD
B11 1427.9 – 1447.9 MHz 1475.9 – 1495.9 MHz 20 MHz HD-FDD
B12 699 – 716 MHz 729 – 746 MHz 17 MHz HD-FDD
B13 777 – 787 MHz 746 – 756 MHz 10 MHz HD-FDD
B17 704 – 716 MHz 734 – 746 MHz 12 MHz HD-FDD
B18 815 – 830 MHz 860 – 875 MHz 15 MHz HD-FDD
B19 830 – 845 MHz 875 – 890 MHz 15 MHz HD-FDD
B20 832 – 862 MHz 791 – 821 MHz 30 MHz HD-FDD
B25 1850 – 1915 MHz 1930 – 1995 MHz 65 MHz HD-FDD
B26 814 – 849 MHz 859 – 894 MHz 35 MHz HD-FDD
B28 703 – 748 MHz 758 – 803 MHz 45 MHz HD-FDD
B31 452.5 – 457.5 MHz 462.5 – 467.5 MHz 5 MHz HD-FDD
B66 1710 – 1780 MHz 2110 – 2200 MHz 70/90 MHz HD-FDD
B70 1695 – 1710 MHz 1995 – 2020 MHz 25 MHz HD-FDD

Sigfox is a French company that builds wireless networks to connect low-power objects such as electricity meters and smartwatches, which need to be continuously on and emitting small amounts of data.

Sigfox employs a proprietary technology that enables communication using the Industrial, Scientific and Medical ISM radio band which uses 868MHz in Europe and 902MHz in the US. It utilizes a wide-reaching signal that passes freely through solid objects, called “ultra narrowband” and requires little energy, being termed “Low-power Wide-area network (LPWAN)”.

The network is based on one-hop star topology and requires a mobile operator to carry the generated traffic. The signal can also be used to easily cover large areas and to reach underground objects.

Sigfox has partnered with a number of firms in the LPWAN industry such as Texas Instruments, Silicon Labs and ON Semiconductor. The ISM radio bands support limited bidirectional communication.

The existing standard for Sigfox communications supports up to 140 uplink messages a day, each of which can carry a payload of 12 Bytes (excluding message header and transmission information) and up to 4 downlink messages per day, each of which can carry a payload of 8 Bytes.

GeoWAN and other LoRa networks that AgriWAN deploys benefit from a global licenses and an open standard.

There are very few countries where the GeoWAN LoRa networks cannot be implemented.

A standard GeoWAN gateway creates a network being installed with an antenna and connected to the a power source and an internet connection. The power source might be mains, battery, wind or solar. The internet connect might be provided by cable/NBN, 4G/LTE, Satellite uplink or Wide area WiFi. This internet connection is referred to as “Backhaul”.

For GPS location, GPS satellites fly in medium Earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of approximately 20,200 km (12,550 miles). Each satellite circles the Earth twice a day.

Tags connect to the GPS satellite obtaining and storing their location co-ordinates at a particular time. Similarly other information such as temperature can be captured.

Periodically connecting to the LoRaWAN network, the information stored (co-ordinates etc) is transmitted to the gateway and onward to the cloud network server for interpretation by visualisation dashboards and apps.

There are a number of factors effecting coverage such as size/spec of the gateway, length of antenna, elevation (height at which it’s installed) and topography (presence of hills). These factors control RSSI (Signal Strength) and SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio).

Assuming a standard installation located at single story roof height, typical coverage would be 10km. A 10km signal radius from each gateway means a coverage area of approximately 310 sq km or 77,000 acres. Three gateways installed would therefore provide both trilateration location using less power than GPS and cover area in excess of 200,000 acres.

Considering the factors that effect range of reading (including power of the tag or device), the longer the distance (link), the higher the antenna needs to be due to the earths curvature. See image explaining the Fresnel Zone.

Tree tops can deflect and absorb some of the signal. The theory is that the height of the tallest object in the path of the signal should be added to the Fresnel Zone and earth curvature clearance heights. It is important to check the height of the trees, hills, buildings or any object on the link path and add this to the measurement for the total of the tower height. There are three main categories of LOS, the first being full LOS where no obstacles reside between the two antennas. Non Line of Sight (NLOS) where full obstructions exist between the two antennas. See image explaining Line of sight.

For optimal network coverage two or more antenna/gateways are recommended and coverage blackspots can be filled using smaller specific gateway/antenna set-ups.

Some new GeoWAN gateways are now able to relay data. For instance, one gateway connected to the internet can communicate with additional non-connected gateways.

The limitations are based on the number of channels and in this instance at least 16 channels would be required. 8 for the gateway to function with devices and 8 to connect to another gateway.

Gateways are available in multiple options; 8,16,32,64 Channels; with or without WiFi; with or without 4G connection; with or without a Satellite connection.

GeoWAN are currently the only company to offer up to 64 Channels.

An 8 channel gateway can accommodate 2 million messages n a 24hr period, this is the limiting factor determining how many devices each gateway can accommodate.

Of those 2M messages the average content might be;

  • 45% for Network Server availability = 1.1M messages per 24hrs
  • 40% for Interference = 440,000 messages
  • 10% for drop of Network = 400,000 messages

Essentially 1 channel can be calculated as 2M message divided by the ratio providing circa 250,000 per channel.

Some devices have no memory and will only transmit data when connected to the network in real time.

Other devices incorporate a memory to record sensor/monitor data and transmit when within range of the network.

No. Only your devices registered on your AgriWAN network will be available/show up. However where your devices move into your neighbours network these will still be available to you.

Essentially when devices are within range of ANY AgriwAN/GeoWAN they will be connected to the Network Server and their data available for your systems to analyse/interpret via the AgriWAN platform or licensed third party software solutions you choose.

Likewise your neighbours devices will only be visible to them despite being recognized on your network. In this way multiple property owners can collaborate to provide wider network coverage.

While the costs relate to many factors such as complexity of the devices or specification of gateways and ancillary services, the model for cost calculations can be as follows:

Consultation/Survey and quotation:
The cost of advising on the application and review of geography/topography and location.

Hardware:
Gateway purchase and installation. Self-installation is possible.
Device cost (this can be a one off purchase price or a lease, AgriWAN are able to provide either).

Connectivity:
Internet connections/subscription. This is the cost per gateway and relates to method of connection.
Device connection to the network: This is the cost per registered device on the GeoWAN network and is similar to a mobile phone connection model. There is a fixed fee per month portion, a fee relating to the frequency of connection and a fee relating to the amount of data transmitted and received.

Visualisation:
Data from the network server (cloud) is made available via the AgriWAN platform or accessed and provided through third party software solutions.
In either instance the level of data analysis and application of algorithms or cross reference with additional data sources results in multiple pricing models.

These costs are calculated on a case by case basis and usually as a subscription model.

Summary:
Essentially the overall AgriWAN IoT delivery model can be purchase plus subscription, monthly lease purchase/subscription or a price per device per month subscription.

If you’re interested in exploring the possibilities simply contact us (details on our contact page).

Provide an outline of your activities, aims and objectives and geolocation. We’ll provide an initial overview of options and indicative costs.

Got your own Question? Please contact us.

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