Semtech has announced a software upgrade for its LoRa products that, it says, significantly increases network capacity and ability to reject interference — and allows for low-power direct links from sensors to orbiting satellites.
"As the smart cities trend continues to proliferate globally, the new capability is a step for Semtech's LoRa platform toward massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployments in densely populated areas," says Semtech's Marc Pégulu of his company's launch. "In addition, the enablement of direct IoT to satellite services revolutionizes the industry with affordable ubiquitous connectivity for remote areas, ultimately creating a smarter and more secure planet."
The upgrade is compatible with Semtech's SX1261 and SX1262 LoRa transceivers, the company's LoRa Edge platform, and its V2.1 reference gateway design — and, by extension, any devices based on said reference. Those already operating a gateway will be able to enable the new functionality with a simple firmware upgrade, the company has confirmed.
The secret lies in a freshly-ratified extension to the LoRa standard: Long Range Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (LR-FHSS). "The changes augment LoRaWAN’s strong support of applications requiring extreme barrier penetration – such as smart buildings and certain smart city applications like parking, as well as greatly improving scalability across a wide range of IoT use cases," LoRa Alliance chief executive and chair Donna Moore said at the time of ratification.
"Additionally, when used in conjunction with satellite-based networks, they can provide worldwide LoRaWAN coverage and roaming. These benefits will accelerate LoRaWAN deployments globally."
"LR-FHSS enables satellite to connect vast remote areas around the globe. It is the key to providing direct data links from end nodes to satellites by leveraging either the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) unlicensed band or a licensed spectrum," Semtech's Tuofu Lu added. "LR-FHSS can support millions of end nodes and delivers a new level of reliability for IoT services — enabling satellite companies to achieve a faster return on its investment."
The boosted network capacity and improved interference rejection will be available to all LoRa networks implementing LR-FHSS, as will the promise of extended operating range; the ability to talk to orbiting satellites, providing connectivity where even LoRa networks don't yet reach, will rely on agreements with satellite operators.
Semtech has not yet added details of the upgrade to its LoRa landing page, but invites interested parties to get in touch to learn more.