I was just reading about LORAWAN and it sounds interesting. If you never heard of it, it’s a digital radio system that has long range (~15km LOS, ~2km urban jungle) and low bitrates ( < 4kbps ). The city of Amsterdam deployed a network and they have 100% coverage of the city with only 15 “gateways”. It uses the unlicensed radio spectrum (433, 868).

Transceiver modules (with tuned external antennas) cost around $75USD.

One use I can see for this network is telemetry for mobile devices (such as cars) with city-wide coverage without incurring the monthly expense of commercial radio WAN services (such as cellular).

My thought is that we could start an open, community based network in the city by setting up gateways in our homes.

A gateway would consist of a transceiver module, a computer of some sort ( BeagleBone, R-Pi ) and an internet connection.

There would need to be a central server that could take on one of two roles: Gateway into the network (users would connect to the server in order to receive and transmit packets to the radio nodes) or Directory (would provide the gateways with an internet destination for the packets from a radio node, the gateway would contact the destination, and deliver a packet) or a combination of both … who knows, I’m just brainstorming at the moment.

The advantages of this system over the amateur radio repeaters are: 1) users would not need an amateur radio license, 2) the data could be encrypted (theoretically all amateur radio transmissions are supposed to be “in the clear” and anybody should be able to receive and interpret it with the right equipment)

Anybody interested in talking about this idea?


I really like this.

Can you put together some use cases for LORAWAN.

How people and the community would use the network?
How Amsterdam is using the network?

With these use cases we sell others on the idea and together with others, we can plan deployment stratagy.


I found this

I think it would be beneficial to sell Vancouver City councel on the idea. I can see the city benefiting.


I can think of several use cases:

  • telemetry from vehicles ( reporting mileage, fuel status, battery status, location if GPS enabled ) All the car sharing companies use this services from commercial providers. Maybe one of them would be interested in funding a community based network and testing it to see if it can replace the commercial providers. A business operator that relies on vehicles for transportation could use such a system to automatically report trip data to a central server to logging and business expense purposes. Granted, these use cases are all commercial in nature.

  • School: Elementary and High school students could run experiments and get introduced into the IoT by deploying solar powered environmental sensors around the city, or activating lights remotely. Sending short messages between school classrooms as part of the STEM curriculum. For more advanced grades, environmental sensors deployed throughout the city could be used to teach students about weather, climate and geography and their relations in a micro-scale

  • stolen vehicle recovery … This one requires more financial and ROI investigation. The LORAWAN transceiver has a higher cost ($75USD) than a GSM module (~$30) but it has no ongoing cost to use. With mobile network plans starting at around $5/month, the break even point could be reached in under a year


I am curious about the power consumption of a LORAWAN transceiver vs a GSM module. If it is significantly less. Then the stolen vehicle recovery can be used on expensive bikes as well. Which might be a big selling point to the bike friendly City counsels.


I’m tangentially interested in this, and watching to see where it goes.
Overcommitted on time atm, but maybe will jump in at a later date :slight_smile:


I love this idea! I would be happy to help, time permitting. Some thoughts…

  • As @tdwebste noted, The Things Network seems like a good place to start. They’ve already organized a sort of federated global organization. Calgary is already on there. So is Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg… We can put Vancouver on that map.

  • Perhaps MODO would be interested to use a network like this. I realize that the network would have to be proven reliable before they could consider it. I wonder what the economics of their existing solution are like, and if there would be any motivation for participating or sponsoring a community network like this. @toptekkie?

  • We have (unofficial?) access to the roof at VHS. We have at least one antenna up there with coax running down already. Could easily add another for this project.


I’m in - sounds great without the overhead of muni wide wifi.


I’m in. Sounds very interesting.

I found this first steps walkthrough https://www.disk91.com/2015/technology/networks/first-step-in-lora-land-microchip-rn2483-test/

DigiKey seem to be selling transceiver MICROCHIP RN2483 for 14USD http://www.digikey.com/short/35j01d

I would be interested just to try 2p2 setup to see how it works.


Whoah, that threw me for a loop, I read LORAN-C and couldn’t figure out why
anyone was using that old technology.

Now this LORAWAN sounds pretty cool. I can’t see the car sharing folks using
this, at least iniitlaly, just because of the lack of coverage. Modo has a
lot of coverage across the lower mainland and on the Island.

I guess the other concern would be reliability particularly in heavily
densified areas.


Would this network be open to commercial use? If yes, I would be interested. Also, who would pay for the hardware? I’d be willing to contribute software development…


Bumping this. Since we last discussed this, there is a gateway operating in Port Coquitlam.

@Logan_Buchy and I have just joined the Vancouver community group at The Things Network. I’d invite anyone else who’s interested to join as well.

I think it would be great to put a gateway on the roof at VHS.


Yeah, this has fallen into my back burner. Too many projects going on at moment.