Internship Opening: LPWAN – Low-Power Wide Area Networks

A LoRa End Device
A LoRa End Device

LPWAN – Low-Power Wide Area Networks

LPWAN is a family of wireless infrastructure technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT), with the goal of “being to the IoT as WiFi was to home networking” – and specifically designed for deployments where:

  1. end-devices are typically battery powered ;
  2. end-devices do not need to transmit more than a few bytes at a time ; and
  3. data traffic can be initiated by the end-device (e.g., the end-device is a sensor), or by an entity wishing to communicate with the end-device (e.g., the end-device is an actuator).

The long-range (up to several km) low-power nature of an LPWAN makes its applicability include smart sensing technology in civil infrastructures (such as health monitoring, smart metering, environmental monitoring, etc.) as well as in industrial applications.

One example of an LPWAN technology is LoRa (Long-Range), which includes two distinct layers, a physical layer using Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS) radio modulation technique, and a MAC layer protocol and architecture (LoRaWAN), and which is organised in a star-of-stars topology including end devices, wireless gateways that simply forward data to/from end-devices, and a network server decoding LoRa messages and implementing the interface towards applications. LoRa is not based on IP, but on proprietary “messages”, with the network server being also the interface towards the Internet (and, thus, is what is implementing the I from IoT).

Other LPWAN technologies have similar architectures — and peculiarities.

Research Topics

LoRa Field Testing
LoRa Field Testing

Our research team is working on characterising, optimising, and extending, LPWANs, both analytically and experimentally. The objective of this research internship is to contribute to these ongoing activities, which include:

  • development of our experimental test-bed, definition and execution of experiments for understanding basic LPWAN performance characteristics ;
  • development and validation of analytical models for describing LPWAN performance ;
  • optimisations and extensions to LPWANs, in particular:
    • developing a multi-hop routing process for use among end-devices (i.e., before the gateway), taking into consideration both the extremely constrained nature of end- devices, energy consumption, and the characteristics of the specific LPWAN technology used. E.g., LoRa offers the ability for an end-device to balance transmission time (and so, channel occupation), range, and energy – thus, in some circumstances a multi-hop path may be more efficient than a single direct link, if exploited ;
    • developing efficient MAC protocol scheduling algorithms.

Candidate Qualifications and Skills

  • Our working language is English, thus a high level of English (written and oral) is required.
  • A strong background in networking and data communications is required.
  • Programming in C/C++, and general ease in programming is required.
  • The ability to work efficiently and autonomously, in a multi-cultural team, is required.
  • Experience with network simulators (NS-2, NS-3) is appreciated.
  • A strong background in mathematics is appreciated.

Period & Practicalities

More info