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What is LoRa?

LoRa is Semtech’s modulation technology for low-power, wide area networks (LPWANs). The name, LoRa, comes from the extremely long-range data links that the technology enables, while requiring so little power that batteries of LoRa-based devices can last for ten years or more. Furthermore, LoRa modulation allows you to demodulate signals better than if you were to use FSK (see AN1200.22, LoRa® Modulation Basics), and provides for a much longer range than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi transmissions are able to achieve. In fact, the range generally extends a few kilometers in urban areas, and up to about 10-15 km in rural areas. (The world-record for distance is more than 700 km).

LoRa is a physical layer, and LoRa-based devices are able to translate data into RF signals that can be sent and received over the air, using chirp spread spectrum communications and license-free sub-gigahertz frequency bands. The advantage of using chirp spread spectrum technology is that it is very robust in harsh RF environments, and is very resistant to interference.

While Semtech’s LoRa ICs provide the physical layer, LoRaWAN® is an asynchronous network software protocol (managed by the LoRa Alliance®) which uses that physical layer. Indeed, with these technologies, which are optimal for cost savings and preserving battery life, you can create very large scale, flexible networks. Such networks are deployed in a star topology, and are perfect for applications that require long range or deep in-building communication among a large number of devices that have low power requirements and that collect small amounts of data.

Integral to the Internet of Things (IoT), LoRa-based devices, coupled with the LoRaWAN protocol (a global standard), have become the de facto standard for LPWANs, and are currently in use around the globe, supporting everything from