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IoT network connectors

Devices on low-power IoT networks like LoRaWAN, Sigfox, or NBIoT networks cannot directly connect to the internet or the thingsHub, but require special network servers to connect to. In the thingsHub, Network Connectors are software components internal to the thingsHub, which make it possible to establish connections to these IoT networks. Through these connectors, uplinks from devices are received and downlinks are sent to devices. In addition, the thingsHub uses network connectors to register devices to and de-register them from networks.

Low-power network technologies and providers

ThingsHub currently supports both of the two most used LPWAN technologies, the license-free LoRaWAN protocol and the proprietary Sigfox protocol.


Sigfox is a proprietary networking technology that operates in the license-free 848MHz (in Europe) spectrum. Sigfox is owned and operated by the company of the same name. If network coverage is given, Sigfox devices are set up easily. However, the data rate is strongly limited.


The LoRaWAN standard is a proprietary but free-to-use standard, which is developed, defined, and maintained by the LoRa Alliance. Because LoRaWAN operates in free-to-use frequency bands, a LoRaWAN network can be self-operated by anyone, given a LoRaWAN Network Server. LoRaWAN is an open standard with multiple server-side implementations called LoRa network servers. While each of these network servers is compatible with the LoRaWAN standard on the radio level, they provide vastly different interfaces on the application side. Because of this, a dedicated network connector is required for each LoRa network server.

Which IoT network connectors are available?

The following network servers are currently supported by the thingsHub:

Comparison of supported features per IoT network connector

The three primary features are the receiving of uplinks from a device (possibly with extended radio metadata), the sending of downlinks to a device, and the (de-)registration of devices on the network. The following table lists all supported features for each network connector:

Receiving uplinks is the core functionality of any Network Connector. Uplinks are small binary-encoded messages sent by devices. Different IoT connectivity providers send uplinks in different ways, e.g. via Websockets, HTTP push, or via MQTT. Network Connectors provide a unified interface for receiving uplinks, independently of the transport technology used by the connectivity provider.

Radio metadata

A single uplink, as transmitted by an IoT device over a radio connection, can be picked up by multiple receivers (gateways in LoRa terminology). For each such reception, one can measure different values for parameters like the Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) or the Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI). A Network Connector that supports radio metadata can receive this data from the network and make it available in the device’s network tab or on the dashboards.

Downlinks are messages sent back to the IoT device. Downlinks are frequently used for device configuration, but can just as well be used to trigger an actuator that is attached to the device. A Network Connector which allows sending downlinks provides functionality to sending a downlink over a network to the device. Note that, depending on the network protocol, this downlink may be received with considerable delay.

Registering devices

The thingsHub’s device registration feature allows easy registration (aka provisioning) and de-registration of devices on the network by a thingsHub user without direct access to the network server.

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