The LoRa Wireless System for M2M and IoT
Most IoT devices send small amounts of data frequently. One of the major challenges for machine to machine (M2M) communications used for applications like the Internet of Things (IoT) is to enable communications over long range using very low power levels.
One option for addressing this issue is known as LoRa, a wireless technology that has been developed to enable low data rate communications to be made over long distances by sensors and actuators for M2M and IoT applications. It gains its name from the fact that it is able to provide “LongRange” communications using very low power levels.
LoRa is a unique modulation format that can be generated by Semtech LoRa parts, including the SX1272 and SX1276 transceiver chips. This modulation format is best described as a “frequency-modulated (FM) chirp.” The core IP that enables LoRa is the ability to generate a stable chirp using a frac-N phase lock loop (PLL). Other modulation formats include frequency shift keying (FSK), phase shift keying (PSK), etc.
Semtech’s web site mentions that “LoRa technology offers a 20dB link budget advantage compared to existing solutions, which significantly extends the range of any application while delivering the lowest current consumption to maximize battery life.”
There are several key elements of the LoRa wireless system. Some of its key features include:
- Long range: 15 – 20 km.
- Millions of nodes
- Long battery life: in excess of ten years
In order to develop and promote the LoRa wireless system across the industry, the LoRa Alliance was set up. The LoRa Alliance is an open, non-profit association that was formally launched at Mobile World Congress in 2015. It was initiated by various companies to standardize Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) for IoT, M2M, smart cities, and industrial applications.
Although LoRa has been fundamentally developed by Semtech, making the technology an industry standard will enable the system to grown and gain a much larger market share.
LoRa wireless technology is particularly attractive for many applications because of its long range capability. New nodes can easily be connected and activated and coverage is easy to provide.
The low power and long range capabilities allow endpoints to be deployed in a wide variety of places and still have the capability of being able to communicate with the gateway.
Applications for LoRa wireless technology include: smart metering; inventory tracking, vending machine data and monitoring; automotive industry; utility applications – basically anywhere data reporting and control may be needed.
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