The branding challenges of the newer version of the things network

For over four years I’ve been using both the legacy and the newer version of The Things Network. Right now there are 7 names commonly in use, largely interchangeably, to refer to the newer version of the network:

  • simply “The Things Network”
  • The Things Network Stack
  • The Things Stack
  • The Things Stack v3
  • The Things Stack Community Edition
  • The Things Network v3

And in late 2023, “The Things Sandbox”.

This highlights a legitimate shortcoming of The Things Network’s marketing / branding strategy and documentation. Developers and users can hardly be certain whether a technical documentation applies to the product they are interested in.

This is quite damaging to the brand’s reputation. If you are an employee of The Things Network, please forward this feedback to your marketing and technical documentation colleagues.

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Branding is always a challenge….especially in a rapidly evolving technology led environment. Some of us were also ‘exercised’ a bit with the latest branding change…… TTS-CE to TTS-Sandbox, which was applied to part of what you are calling out. The thing is (‘scuse the pun!) that you are not talking about one thing or one entity but a collection of entities, products and implementations which are all separate but interconnected and where many of us, especially us old timers (can I say that about myself?), get a little sloppy and lazy in our use of words and how we abbreviate or communicate concepts. Remember, at the highest level there is a Community, that uses an infrastructure, including a Network, and that in turn utilises a back end software ecosystem and deployment implementation -a stack- which provide various services and pieces of functionality. All of these have some element of ‘Things’ related branding attached to them and some evolve and change at different times and rates.

Your question/issue raised is legitimate but in and of itself is also guilty of conflating these various parts and how they have evolved.

I’m busy for a short while this morning but will but will come back shortly with my perspective and view of this, outlining what I have seen of the brand development and how things seem to fit together (as a user, a member of the community, and someone who has been around a while…… though not as a TTI’er, like you I’m a Community member not a staff member) and perhaps between us we can figure it out! :slight_smile:

Things Staff don’t always hang around the Forum, but perhaps one will jump in beforehand making efforts redundant……

I am by no particular means a big member of the team but i do care a lot about the user expierence of the users and am working on the improvement of said UX.

That said, i agree that the fracturedness of all the terms used by us is getting quite a lot, especially with so much legacy stuff. Something like a blog post or a documentation write up of all the names used would be nice. Solutions will need to be discussed (if at all there will be solutions) but It’s something I want to bring up nonetheless.

We have been informing device/gateway makers on improving their documentation as well to use our recently changed names for our Stacks and not use abbreviations for example. I feel like we should give some love to our own users as well on this part.

That’s not very accurate - how tall are you and how much do you weigh compared to @johan or @wienkegiezeman ???

But overall much of the public discussion relates to what was known as TTN and is still largely referred to as TTN.

  • simply “The Things Network” - pretty much most of references
  • The Things Network Stack - not seen that much
  • The Things Stack - that’s TTS which was how v3 is/was officially referred to (I know, I opened the GitHub issue to ask that question)
  • The Things Stack v3 - again, not seen much, v3 was used to differentiate whilst v2 was still running
  • The Things Stack Community Edition - TTS CE was a thing
  • The Things Network v3 - not sure I’ve seen much of that

I still think the Sandbox should have been Things Industries Test Server …

Sorry, but a hard disagree on that. The documentation is awesome, all in one place, linked to at the bottom of the console and ONLY refers to TTS and is kept up to date within a few days of a release.

The legacy pages on TTN domain are all clearly marked as being for v2.

I will strongly agree that the vendors are muddying the waters with older info but no one should rely on vendor docs on how to operate TTS - people should always refer back to the official source. But then some developers think they can learn LW via osmosis and not read the awesome Learn section that gets them a certificate at the end. Perhaps Lars could get the Fundamentals Cert fee down to €/£/$0.00 and then we only answer questions from certified people (just off to do the exam now).

I suspect that the incentive would be to start a sub-set of the gateways / devices listing with some icons showing status, but that would have to be off site as I can think of a few vendors that would get so many thumbs down for not responding to emails & having really iffy docs that someone would have to be sued. So it can’t even be a personal opinion post on this forum.

I do agree. it is representative of one of the shortcomings of TTI strategies.

For me, it’s just not very clear what I can do with the sandbox edition, and how it relates to the other plans.

There is the 30s upload fair access policy, which is fine. But will there be any other limits, like number of devices that can be connected? I see now that the “discovery plan” allows only 10 devices and 10 gateways, see

I’ve been maintaining a gateway for several years now, thinking I did the network a favour, helping to provide coverage. Is that actually the case, is it actually being appreciated or not?

When I’m talking to people about connecting a citizen science project to TheThingsNetwork, I’m no longer so sure if it’s actually a good idea, or whether they will face all kinds of limitations or new costs in the new future. I can understand that TTN needs to make money, but would like to know what the exact limitations are, or what they will be in the near future.


It would be unwise for TTI to say because if that has to change, then everyone gets upset. We are aware that the blatant commercial users are being encouraged to move over to TTI.

I guess the challenge is where do you draw the line? If you have a community project that will use 100’s of sensors but is being paid out of volunteers pockets, then TTI seem human enough to discuss it if it is considered to be a lot. I’d consider “community” use which is run for local authority services to be a bit marginal on 100’s of devices - and usually the overheads of such a setup with staff etc would make the TTI instance rental rather incidental.

Only you can tell what traffic is going through your gateway but obviously you can’t tell how much is TTN and how much is TTI. Having community gateways increases the resilience of the network which attracts TTI commercial users which means TTN can be funded. If you are running a fleet of gateways I can certainly see how it all seems a bit marginal. But that’s the way volunteering rolls - a small nucleus of people doing most of the work.

I’d feel comfortable recommending TTN - if only because there are few other options - but I’d also look at how a project would expand and what that might mean if TTN had to be restricted or, even worse, closed down.

Alternatives could be created - running TTS OS for instance - with the consequent peril of not having the subject matter experts administering the instance - and the hard costs of hosting as well. And if it’s free to use and someone else is paying for that instance, I’d expect there to be some fairly drastic limits set.

Trying to predict the future in any smallish enterprise has a considerable element of luck - the next phone call could be from a organised & co-operative prospect with a good use case & excellent RoI that could transform the business (I’m looking at my own, my wife’s and my colleagues just as much as TTI). Or a corporate could decide to offer a free service that steals all the business. Or regulations may change. Or the next shiny tech could divert attention away from LoRaWAN - like 5G supplemented with satellites. Or a meteorite could hit Amsterdam.

I think the question we should really be asking is what can we do to help the community to ensure its continued existence - at the simplest level it would be advocating LoRaWAN & TTI for low cost sensor projects, or it could be seeking long term funding to run a TTS OS instance, or perhaps even better, funding to run a TTI instance parcelled up for community projects. The notional €1 a year point is 14,500 devices if a community project has benefits worth paying a small amount for. And for totally random speculative projects, a TTS OS instance could be used.