The IoT domain is characterized by many applications that require low-bandwidth communications over a long range, at a low cost and at low power. Low power wide area networks (LPWANs) fulfill these requirements by using sub-GHz radio frequencies (typically 433 or 868 MHz) with typical transmission ranges in the order of 1 up to 50 km. As a result, a single base station can cover large areas and can support high numbers of connected devices (>1000 per base station). Notorious initiatives in this domain are LoRa, Sigfox and the upcoming IEEE 802.11ah (or “HaLow”) standard. Although these new technologies have the potential to significantly impact many IoT deployments, the current market is very fragmented and many challenges exists related to deployment, scalability, management and coexistence aspects, making adoption of these technologies difficult for many companies. To remedy this, this paper proposes a conceptual framework to improve the performance of LPWAN networks through in-network optimization, cross-technology coexistence and cooperation and virtualization of management functions. In addition, the paper gives an overview of state of the art solutions and identifies open challenges for each of these aspects.