LoRa Alliance adds IPv6 Over LoRaWAN

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By Nick Flaherty

French developer Acklio has been instrumental in adding support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) for end-to-end connections in LoRaWAN low power wide area networks (LPWAN).

The previous IPv4 protocol has been running out of addresses with the boom in connections in the Internet of Things (IoT). Moving to IPv6 expands LoRaWAN’s addressable IoT market is also broadened to include internet-based standards required in smart electricity metering and new applications in smart buildings, industries, logistics, and homes.

The new IPv6 adaptation layer adopted by the LoRa Alliance accelerates development of secure and interoperable applications over LoRaWAN and builds on the alliance’s commitment to ease of use. IP-based solutions, commonly found in enterprise and industrial solutions, among many others, can now be transmitted over LoRaWAN, and easily integrated with cloud infrastructures. This allows developers to quickly enable internet-based applications, while significantly reducing time-to-market and total cost of ownership.

The successful development of IPv6 Over LoRaWAN is credited to the active collaboration of LoRa Alliance members in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to specify the Static Context Header Compression (SCHC) and fragmentation techniques, which makes transport of the IP packets over LoRaWAN very efficient. The LoRa Alliance IPv6 over LoRaWAN Task Force then took the SCHC specification (RFC 90111) and integrated it into the body of the LoRaWAN standard.

Acklio SCHC IPv6 development

LoRa Alliance member company, French developer Acklio, made significant contributions to enable IPv6 over LoRaWAN and was integral to the development of the SCHC technology for LoRaWAN.

SCHC takes advantage of the predictable nature of IoT traffic and avoids synchronization between network entities. In this way, it considerably reduces the volume of data carried over networks, and thus enables the support for IPv6 and associated upper application layer communications over LoRaWAN.

As a result SCHC can convert a LoRaWAN end-device into a native IPv6 device, easily addressable from any Internet-based application. It maintains the legacy application environment, end-to-end, from the device to the application for multi-connectivity deployments or to densify or modernize existing M2M solutions with LoRaWAN.

The first application for SCHC for IPv6 is DLMS/COSEM for smart metering. It was developed as part of the liaison between LoRa Alliance and DLMS User Association to address electric utilities requirement for the use of IP-based standards. There are many additional applications for IPv6 over LoRaWAN, such as monitoring internet networking equipment, reading RFID labels, and IP-based smart home applications, among others.

The availability of the IPv6 Internet stack means a developer can now use any of the myriad existing IP/UDP-based services to deploy interoperable and end-to-end secure solutions over LoRaWAN with virtually no modification. Most of the services running the backbone of industry and enterprise solutions today include such IP/UDP versions, for example, message queues with MQTT-SN, SCADA systems based on Modbus and DNP3, device management with LwM2M or CORECONF, building asset management with BACnet or KNX, or telemetry and secure smart meter management with DLMS.

Reference SCHC designs

Acklio provides the reference SCHC implementation for any scalable project launched globally. It provides operators, device manufacturers and solution integrators with an industry-grade off-the-shelf modular software suite, approved by key market players and field-validated by utilities.

It has launched a developer program including a comprehensive set of tools to learn, prototype and showcase IP-based solutions, with access to the Acklio Cloud platform, SCHC embedded library with reference designs for varied target environments, Turnkey example applications for a smooth onboarding and full technical documentation.

Access will be free for up to 50 devices. To date, the kit includes reference designs for boards and shields from ST Microelectronics and Semtech. It offers pre-integrated LoRaWAN Network Server connectors for Actility, Chipstark and The Things Network. Additional target environments are available in the commercial version, with the free program soon providing access to cellular IoT developers for NB-IoT and LTE-M.

“As digitization across market sectors continues, integrating multiple technologies to achieve end-to-end solutions is critical,” said Donna Moore, CEO and Chair of the LoRa Alliance. “At the same time, companies are requiring solutions that provide increased interoperability and adhere to standards. Now that LoRaWAN readily integrates with any IP application, end users have both. IPv6 is a core technology underpinning IoT, so enabling IPv6 over LoRaWAN opens a huge number of new markets and a much larger addressable application space to LoRaWAN. Developers and end users with IPv6 devices recognize the benefits of digital transformation and IoT, and already create solutions that can improve lives and the environment, as well as drive new revenue streams. By supporting IPv6, they now have a simple path to use LoRaWAN and benefit from the technology’s proven advantages. With this development, LoRaWAN once again positions itself a market leader at the forefront of IoT.”

“The LoRa Alliance ecosystem has mobilized for the specification and adoption of this key feature in record time. SCHC solutions that are compliant with this new specification are now commercially available from partners across the IoT value chain to deploy IPv6 over LoRaWAN solutions worldwide,” said Alexander Pelov, CEO of Acklio.

“IPv6 support is a new milestone for LoRaWAN and the LoRa Alliance. It relies heavily on Acklio’s contributions to the IPv6 Task Force and is now proven on DLMS for smart metering,” said Moore. “The Alliance is working closely with Acklio and our membership at large to expand the scope of LoRaWAN in many other market verticals.” 

Other members of the Alliance are also adopting the technology.

“Actility has been involved in the definition and standardization of SCHC since the beginning,” said Olivier Hersent, CEO of network provider Actility. “Support for IP and efficient fragmentation opens massive opportunities such as wireless control of underground EV car chargers, and brings an industrial-grade wireless option to many mature ecosystems based on lightweight IP protocols. Actility’s Thingpark infrastructure and Acklio’s SCHC solutions are a perfect match as both companies focus on large scale industrial use cases. Actility and Acklio are already actively engaged in several large opportunities for utilities, and we encourage manufacturers of OCCP compliant EV car chargers, KNX, ModBus, and other IP based systems to work with us to add a much-awaited wireless option for low-touch deployments and join the thriving LoRaWAN ecosystem.”

“From its creation Acklio took the part of openness, offering the technology for IETF standardization,” said Pelov. “The opening of a developer portal means a lot to us. We have designed the kit in a didactic way, with examples of ready-to-use applications to help LoRaWAN developers.”

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