Low Power Wide Area Networks: An Overview

Usman Raza, Parag Kulkarni, Mahesh Sooriyabandara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1393 Citations (Scopus)


Low power wide area (LPWA) networks are attracting a lot of attention primarily because of their ability to offer affordable connectivity to the low-power devices distributed over very large geographical areas. In realizing the vision of the Internet of Things, LPWA technologies complement and sometimes supersede the conventional cellular and short range wireless technologies in performance for various emerging smart city and machine-to-machine applications. This review paper presents the design goals and the techniques, which different LPWA technologies exploit to offer wide-area coverage to low-power devices at the expense of low data rates. We survey several emerging LPWA technologies and the standardization activities carried out by different standards development organizations (e.g., IEEE, IETF, 3GPP, ETSI) as well as the industrial consortia built around individual LPWA technologies (e.g., LoRa Alliance, Weightless-SIG, and Dash7 alliance). We further note that LPWA technologies adopt similar approaches, thus sharing similar limitations and challenges. This paper expands on these research challenges and identifies potential directions to address them. While the proprietary LPWA technologies are already hitting the market with large nationwide roll-outs, this paper encourages an active engagement of the research community in solving problems that will shape the connectivity of tens of billions of devices in the next decade.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7815384
Pages (from-to)855-873
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet of Things
  • IoT
  • LPWA
  • cellular
  • low power wide area
  • machine-to-machine communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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