STM32’s LoRaWAN Software Upgraded to Support Latest Firmware Over-the-Air Updates

November 11, 2019 by Lisa Boneta

The I-CUBE-LRWAN Expansion Package allows developers to support the latest firmware updated over the air (FUOTA) specifications from the LoRa Alliance.

With the continuous release of new microcontrollers, it is important to update firmware in pre-existing microcontrollers for an optimized system. One way to implement new firmware is through firmware updates over the air (FUOTA). 

STMicroelectronics recently announced that its STM32 LoRaWAN software expansion package has been updated to support the latest FUOTA specifications from the LoRa Alliance. These specifications include Application Layer Clock Synchronization for time synchronization, Remote Multicast Setup for sending messages to end devices, and Fragmented Data Block Transport for data-file splitting.


The STM32Cube Ecosystem is the complete software solution for STM32 microcontrollers

The STM32Cube Ecosystem is the complete software solution for STM32 microcontrollers and now supports the latest LoRaWAN FUOTA specifications. Image from STMicroelectronics

STM32 developers can now create LoRa endpoint devices that support FUOTA for STM32L4 microcontrollers. These MCUs can update using the Secure Boot and Secure Firmware Update solution. Updates may include corrections for potential issues and new feature additions.

To ensure robustness of the expansion package, it is interoperable with network servers including Actility and Senet. Oliver Herscent, CEO of Actility, said that “Actility is happy to provide fully interoperable servers with ST solution that will help all ST's customers keep their devices running with the latest security and feature updates.”


The I-CUBE-LRWAN Expansion Package Compatibility

The expansion package is compatible with the full STM32 portfolio with libraries and application examples for end-devices, including STM32L0, STM32L1, and STM32L4


STM32 LoRa software expansion for STM32Cube

STM32 LoRa software expansion for STM32Cube. Image from STMicroelectronics

The software can also be applied with sensor expansion boards in the STM32 Nucleo ecosystem—for instance, the LoRa nodes in the P-NUCLEO-LRWAN2 and P-NUCLEO-LRWAN3 developer packs. In addition, I-CUBE-LRWAN Expansion Package can be used for LPWAN development boards.


The Benefits of FUOTA

With the continuous release of new and updated microcontrollers, it is important that devices with pre-existing microcontrollers have access to updated firmware that can optimize a system or address previous issues. 

Using microcontrollers with FUOTA capabilities offers many benefits to both developers and customers. With the ability to continuously update firmware, customer expectations can be met with faster upgrade times, mitigated risks, and cost-effectiveness.

A huge advantage is not having to physically change any aspect of a device, which enables developers to spend more time on the actual firmware rather than hardware, thus allowing any updates to get deployed to the market quicker. This also tackles an environmental issue, helping to reduce waste of obsolete products by extending the lifecycle of existing products.


Examples of FUOTA

FUOTA are extremely valuable for IoT and wireless devices and are slowly becoming mainstream in automobiles.

A prime example of the benefit of FUOTA lies in newer models of cars that can have more than 50 microcontrollers. Implementing FUOTA allows automobile manufacturers to remotely update a system rather than having owners bring their cars to a physical shop for maintenance. Similarly, developers that implement LoRaWAN IoT sensors want to ensure the longevity of products that may spend more than 10 years in the field. 


Example of how FUOTA can affect specific electronic control units (ECUs) inside a car.

Example of where FUOTA can affect specific electronic control units (ECUs) inside a car. Image from STMicroelectronics

Implementing FUOTA “future-proofs” LoRa devices by applying application-layer and RF stack updates to devices already deployed in the field.


FUOTA Security

While more of our designs become wireless, the need for finding reliable ways to safely update them is crucial. With any FUOTA, security and privacy should be prioritized and can be ensured by preventing unauthorized updates and access to confidential on-device data. 

While using a FUOTA partner can help developers manage the versions of their firmware, it can be risky as some FUOTA partners install adware or spyware over the air. Proper security and privacy measures should always be implemented to avoid compromising user’s safety. 

To ameliorate this issue, the I-CUBE-LRWAN Expansion Package allows users to easily integrate a secure element. 



Have you implemented FUOTA in any products or projects? Let us know in the comments below.