Comparative Assessment of the LoRaWAN Medium Access Control Protocols for IoT

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Comparative Assessment of the LoRaWAN Medium
Access Control Protocols for IoT: Does Listen before
Talk Perform Better than ALOHA?


Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) are emerging as appealing solutions for several Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as healthcare, smart cities and Industry 4.0, thanks to their ease of deployment, low energy consumption and large coverage range. LoRaWAN is one of the most successful LPWAN standards, as it supports robust long-distance communications using low-cost devices.

To comply with the ETSI regulations, LoRaWAN can adopt as medium access
control (MAC) layer either a pure ALOHA approach with duty-cycle limitations or a polite spectrum access technique, such as Listen Before Talk (LBT). The two approaches have their pros and cons that need to be carefully evaluated. The studies in the literature that so far have addressed an evaluation
of MAC protocols for LoRaWAN refer to a previous and now obsolete version of the ETSI regulations, therefore they do not take into account the current limits on the timing parameters for polite spectrum access, such as that maximum time an end-node is allowed to be transmitting per hour. For this
reason, the contribution of this work is two-fold.

First, the paper discusses the restrictions that the
current ETSI regulations impose on some timing parameters of the two kinds of MAC protocols for LoRaWAN. Second, the paper provides comparative performance assessments of the two protocols through simulations in realistic scenarios under different workload conditions.


  • Luca Leonardi
  • Lucia Lo Bello
  • Filippo Battaglia
  • Gaetano Patti


  • Department of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering, University of Catania, 95124 Catania, Italy