Q & A: LoRaWAN Gateway

LoRaWAN is a low power, low bandwidth usage, long range, secure network that makes setting up wireless monitoring a breeze. This FAQ guides you through some common questions about the gateway.

Q:  What is a gateway, and what does it do?

A:  A gateway is a small device that receives messages from connected devices and relays those messages to the internet - a lot like a WiFi router.  A gateway may also receive data from the internet and transmit it back to a connected device


Q: What are the specs for the gateway?

A: We use the Tektelic KONA Micro Gateway. Read more about it on the Tektelic website.


Q: Can I cover my entire collection with one gateway? How long is the range?

A:  It depends! Many of our customers can cover their entire building (multiple floors) with one gateway. We've deployed gateways in difficult buildings with lots of steel and concrete and not had any coverage issues.

You may need additional gateways if there are certain construction materials in buildings (faraday cages and copper sheeting both do a good job of blocking signals). Another reason we may need additional gateways could have to do with the density of metal furniture items in certain spaces. For example, we have found that libraries often need additional gateways to help with dense storage areas with metal shelving. For monitoring in dense storage areas, we often suggest placing the gateway on the floor above or below that space so that the signal path does not have to travel through multiple rows of metal shelving. 


Q:  Is it safe to run one of these?  Is it a security risk?

A:  While nothing is perfectly safe, running a gateway is very low risk.  The gateway only communicates over some specific frequencies in specific ways.  It does not, for example, broadcast any information from your network, nor does it allow general entry into your network.  In fact, running a separate network for your own sensors is a net gain, security wise, since it keeps sensors isolated from your WiFi network.


Q:  Is it possible to take steps to secure it further?

A:  Yes!  If you have the network know-how, you can certainly restrict the gateway to its own corner of your network, and restrict what servers on the internet it can communicate with.


Q:  How much of my data bandwidth will this gateway consume?  Will it slow down my network?

A:  Each message sent by a device is tiny, less than 51 bytes and typically smaller than that.  Even with thousands of devices connected and sending at the maximum rate, the gateway would only consume a fraction of a percent of a typical broadband connection.


Q:  Will the gateway require any maintenance?  How do we know it is working?

A:  All of the gateways “phone home” every so often so we know they are up and running.  If something goes wrong, we’ll be in touch to get it fixed.


Q: What happens if my network or power goes down? Will I stop receiving data?

A: Your gateway comes with a 4 hour battery backup (if the power goes down) and a SIM card to transmit data over cellular (if your network goes down).