Feature Article

January 21, 2015

Tastes Great, Less Filling: LoRa

With all the commitment to LTE and LTE-Advanced, you would think that industry was ready to commit to a single standard and let the ARM chipset drive the marketplace.

However, the reality is that different traffic requires different business models. The result is that much of the radio technologies in the market may only exist because of the pricing and regulatory anomalies.

One technology getting some press and support from the community that carries about the capabilities rather than the competitive anomalies is a Long Range RF Platform called LoRa.

One of the big advocates is Semtech and I am including a review of their solution.

LoRa (Long Range) RF platform, belonging to the SX127x family, is a 2-way wireless solution by Semtech that offers a cheaper way for connecting battery operated as well as mobile devices to the infrastructure of the network. It also complements M2M cellular infrastructure. Networks having longer ranges and capacity of handling millions of devices can be created by combining a LoRa concentrator gateway with a LoRa RF transceiver. End user’s battery lifetime can also be improved along with minimizing interference of the signal. This results in a network that is highly suited for Internet of Things (IoT), security, machine-to-machine applications (M2M) and asset tracking. It is ideal for extending battery life time, eliminating repeaters, reducing infrastructure cost and improving network capacity. The traditional design compromise between interference immunity, range and energy consumption are solved by LoRa and endless possibilities in wireless communication have been made possible.

With long range solutions, Semtech offers a very wide range of RF ICs for offering narrow band, ultra long range, communications in smart sensor meters and smart energy. Its key benefits can be summed up as:

  • Longest Range
  • Extended Battery Life
  • Robust Links
  • Here is a look at some of its transceivers and concentrators with their important features and applications.

LoRa Transceivers:

SX1272:

It is among the latest ones and features a LoRa long range modem which offers extra-long-range spread spectrum communication along with high interference immunity minimizing current at the same time. Its key features include extremely high range, link budget above 160 dB and transceiver power above 20 dB. SX1272 can achieve a sensitivity greater than 137dB using the patented LoRa modulation technique. The power combined with high sensitivity results in industry-leading link budget, making SX1272 highly optimal for any application that requires robustness or range.

Its important applications include:

  • Industrial Monitoring and Control
  • Wireless Alarm and Security Systems
  • Long range Irrigation Systems
  • Home and Building Automation
  • Automated Meter Reading

SX1276

It offers benefits like robust performance, range and excellent battery lifetime as compared to other technologies. Among many of its features, its key offering includes exceptional IIP3, in channel burst interference tolerance and robust links for customer benefits.

Its important applications include:

  • Wireless Sensor Networks
  • Automated Meter Reading
  • Home and Building Automation
  • Industrial Monitoring and Control
  • Wireless Alarm and Security Systems

LoRa Concentrator:

The LoRa concentrator is a multi-modem, multi-channel solution which can receive multiple packets simultaneously. The simultaneous reception of multiple packets on the same channel is permitted by the advanced properties of the LoRa modulation. Semtech’s LoRa solution is leading to drastic improvements in performance, range, battery lifetime, and network capacity compared to existing technologies.

SX1301:

The SX1301 is a digital baseband chip with a massive digital signal processing engine that has been specially designed for providing unbelievable ISM band’s worldwide gateway capabilities. Its key features include lowest RX current (10 mA), lowest sleep current, and very fast wake-up (sleep to RX/TX).

  • Some of its major applications include:
  • Security Sensors Network
  • Smart Metering
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Agricultural Monitoring

I expect to hear more about LoRa as a solution in the near future.





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