What is a Gateway?
It’s very simple and easy to think of gateway as an imaginary bridge connecting your IoT devices to the greater internet network.
There is some kind of system connecting these two, making data transfer and communication possible.
That bridge or connector is the IoT gateway. That sounds pretty easy.
So, just like the gateway implies, gateways allow device sensors to access the IoT network server for a data-driven IoT cloud services function.
A single gateway is enough to bridge for as many as thousands of devices.
Connections between devices and gateways use LoRaWAN – a low power network over a long range.
However, it’s different in a gateway as the connection to the IoT network is made using WiFi, Cellular or Ethernet, which are all high bandwidth networks.
Operation of IoT Gateways
The operation of a gateway can be simply explained by its function, which is receiving messages from devices and sending them to the IoT network.
However, there is a LoRaWAN architecture that allows this operation to be possible.
LoRaWAN based gateways are bidirectional in their operation, thereby allowing information to be transmitted from device sensors to their network and vice versa.
Firstly, every gateway is a router installed with a LoRa concentrator.
This concentrator also called the LoRa receptor allows a gateway to accept LoRa packets.
These are data or messages from LoRa-based sensors existing in the form of radiofrequency signals.
Gateways in response to receiving these signals redirect the messages from IoT network back to the devices.
The quality of a gateway to a large extent determines the quality of data transmission and network capacity.
Gateway Types and Applicability
Network application requirements determine the best type of gateway to be used. There are 2 major classes of Lorawan based gateways – indoor and outdoor gateways.
Like the name implies, the indoor gateway is designed to allow for indoor network applications over a dynamic coverage.
- Enclosed in light plastics pods
- WiFi/Ethernet backhaul connectivity
- Fully built-in antennae for cost-effective indoor usage
Unlike indoor gateways, these gateways make provisions for wider area coverages with their sophisticated antennae.
- Multiple simultaneous channels aiding effective outdoor application
- Located on roof and tower tops or can be mounted on masts or walls
- Outdoor weather protection enclosures
- Higher connectivity bandwidths
- Transmits data across tens of kilometres
- Transmits data from Class A and Class C devices
The Gateway Software
The LORAWAN gateway is another integral part of the system that plays a key but invisible role in the design architecture. The software design is fully adapted to serve both the hardware radio and the network server.
The typical functions of a gateway software include.
- Management of backhaul network connectivity and authentication credentials: Gateway software ensures the reconnecting of lost backhaul connections. It also helps to manage all authentication credentials related to both servers and their clients.
- Management of Hardware Access: Spectrum access to the network is another typical function ensured by the gateway software. Here, IoT devices undergo a two-step configuration-regulation set up. In the first step, the software allows hardware configuration while the second step ensures regulatory standards for full network access.
- Management of packet inflows and Outflows: Packet flows from sensor devices via gateways to the network are handled by the gateway software. The following are specific stepwise details of this function.
- Preparing hardware to receive incoming packets
- Ensuring packet integrity via a smart verification process
- Stabilizing received packet information for further processing
- Managing packet downlink transmissions to the network
Protecting Your LoRaWAN Based Gateway
One of the most important considerations for a LoRaWAN gateway is its security. While the amazing technological benefits of LoRaWAN networks keep increasing, we must not forget to arm them with trusted protection.
Why is security that important?
The robustness and output of your IoT environment depend largely on your gateway security.
The consequences of an unprotected gateway is costly. It can terribly threaten your integrated LoRaWAN based environment.
In order to ensure the safety of your gateway, you must secure your LoRaWAN network server communication link.
Most often, this can be secured by mutual authentication between you and your network servers.
Mutual authentication gateway security strategies ensure the following.
- Provides secured networks such as VPNs for hosts networks
- Connects users to protected network services
5 Hints To Help You Protect Your Lorawan Gateway
These are 5 quick tips on how you can protect your LoraWan based gateway.
- Strengthen your gateway operating system
- Update security settings
- Reduce general network connections as much as possible
- Ensure specific gateway credentials prior to granting access
- Allow data encryption to ensure device identity
Common FAQs on LoRaWAN Gateways
I have reviewed the most common FAQs bordering around LoRaWAN based gateways.
Creating your gateway is one of the most challenging steps in a gateway set up.
This is mainly due to the interoperability condition that has to be met which allows for multiple sensor connectivity.
An effective cross communication among devices is the hallmark of any LoRaWAN based gateway.
A gateway must meet certain criteria to be suitable for its functions.
1. Must create a scalable solution
2. Must fulfil both hardware and OS agnostic requirements
3. Must optimally ensure network communication security via authentication, certifications and encryptions
4. Must be adapted to meet multiple seamless device connectivity
A LoRaWAN based gateway must support a wide range of network protocols.
These range from both the wired and wireless connections like Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and many more.
LoRaWAN based gateway solutions are crucial in the whole IoT set up and functioning of your devices with the cloud network.
Apart from being the bridge making data communication and transfer possible, there are really some interesting things to know about these gateways.