Emerging LoRaWAN Protocol Support Over-Air Firmware Updates

(LoRa Alliance)

The LoRa Alliance announces the public availability of three new specifications. Together, the new specifications support and standardize firmware updates over the air (FUOTA), a capability unique to LoRaWAN among LPWANs. According to the alliance, enhancements to the protocol are accompanied by significant growth in deployments and certification, with an increase of more than 50% in the number of LoRaWAN CertifiedCM products compared to this time last year. Additionally, the number of public LoRaWAN networks is quickly approaching 100 globally.


The LoRa Alliance has a rapidly growing ecosystem in Japan with members actively deploying LoRaWAN networks and solutions. Recent examples include NEC providing LoRaWAN network servers for remote liquefied petroleum gas meter reading, and SenseWay deploying a LoRaWAN network on the Kashiwanoha Campus to acquire and visualize the city’s environmental information to build a true smart city.


The LoRa Alliance is hosting its Q4 Members’ Meeting in Tokyo this week, with its LoRaWAN Live showcase taking place today,


The three new specifications include:

  1. LoRaWAN Application Layer Clock Synchronization Specification v1.0.0
  2. LoRaWAN Remote Multicast Setup Specification v1.0.0
  3. LoRaWAN Fragmented Data Block Transport Specification v1.0.0

 These specifications were developed to allow the LoRa Alliance ecosystem to perform FUOTA in a standardized way. The ability to update devices remotely is critical for the IoT, where many sensors are in remote or difficult locations to reach but may require updating. Making FUOTA part of the specification contributes to future-proofing LoRaWAN and ensuring that LoRaWAN devices will continue to operate over long lifetimes.


Together, the new specifications enable FUOTA. However, three separate specifications have been issued because each can be used independently. For example, the remote multicast setup protocol can be used standalone to send messages to a group of end-devices; fragmentation can be used on its own to send a large file to a single end-device (unicast); and time synchronization can also be used as a standalone capability.


As is true for the LoRaWAN protocol, security was a strong focus of this development effort and is addressed in the Multicast and Fragmentation specifications. For multicast, the protocol has a means to securely deliver a cryptographic key to the group of end devices. This key exchange is described with its security implication. In fragmentation, a section is dedicated to file integrity and authentication recommendations. For more knowledge, visit the LoRa Alliance.