Low power wide area network (LPWAN) is a promising solution for long range and low power Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) communication applications. This paper focuses on defining a systematic and powerful approach of identifying the key characteristics of such applications, translating them into explicit requirements, and then deriving the associated design considerations. LPWANs are resource-constrained networks and are primarily characterized by long battery life operation, extended coverage, high capacity, and low device and deployment costs. These characteristics translate into a key set of requirements including M2M traffic management, massive capacity, energy efficiency, low power operations, extended coverage, security, and interworking. The set of corresponding design considerations is identified in terms of two categories, desired or expected ones and enhanced ones, which reflect the wide range of characteristics associated with LPWAN-based applications. Prominent design constructs include admission and user traffic management, interference management, energy saving modes of operation, lightweight media access control (MAC) protocols, accurate location identification, security coverage techniques, and flexible software re-configurability. Topological and architectural options for interconnecting LPWAN entities are discussed. The major proprietary and standards-based LPWAN technology solutions available in the marketplace are presented. These include Sigfox, LoRaWAN, Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), and long term evolution (LTE)-M, among others. The relevance of upcoming cellular 5G technology and its complementary relationship with LPWAN technology are also discussed. © 2020 by the authors.