LoRa is a unique modulation format. It’s a really inexpensive, efficient way to get processing gain in a small chip-scale transceiver. It works with highly integrated base stations chips with high capacity, so you can use it to build pretty sophisticated point to multipoint networks. The part of the spectrum LoRa uses presents little electromagnetic interference, so signals can span a long distance, even passing through buildings, with little power. This suits IoT devices with their limited battery capacities.
You can see the digits from SNS Research – October 2015
Most analysts predict that 45-55% of predicted IoT volumes will be in the LPWAN space
No, you do not need a gateway. You can easily implement simple protocols using LoRa, either with modules or with the chips themselves.
No, it’s not. LoRaWAN as a protocol is strictly for wide-area networks, but LoRa as a lower-level physical layer technology (PHY) can be used in all sorts of applications outside of wide area.
Almost. There are changes required at the host interface and specifications for transmitting data in a LoRa system that require changes to the host system software.
LoRa is likely the better option if you need true bidirectionality because of the symmetric link. So LoRa is your best option if you need command-and-control functionality - for, say, electric grid monitoring
You could, actually, but you would need to convert an existing 802.15.4 or other mesh protocol to use the modulation format. Because of some of LoRa’s features, like long preambles and variable bit rates, this would be a serious engineering feat.
LoRaWAN is a media access control (MAC) layer protocol designed for large-scale public networks with a single operator. It is built using Semtech’s LoRa modulation scheme. This article, What Is LoRaWAN?, will walk you through how it works, why it’s ideal for public networks, chirp rate, processing gain, downlink and uplink capabilities, and much more.