LoRa (non-GPS) geolocation for low power wide area networks

July 01, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
This geolocation solution from Semtech adds GPS-free tracking capability to LoRaWAN networks; it uses time-of-flight dta and known base-station locations to triangulate the position of a remote node.

The added feature, Semtech says, is compatible with all existing LoRaWAN end nodes and the version-2 LoRaWAN gateway infrastructure reference design announced earlier this year.


Semtech’s LoRa geolocation solution is enabled by version two LoRaWAN gateways that share an accurate, common time base and add an ultra-high resolution timestamp to each received LoRa data packet. Each base station will report the time of arrival and supporting metadata enabling location solvers based on differential time of arrival (DTOA) algorithms to determine the end node position to the nearest block.


Multiple gateway manufacturers have implemented the LoRa geolocation reference design since its introduction in March 2016, and initial deployments are starting now with large-scale deployments expected for the second half of 2016. An analyst comment suggests, “We project fifteen billion connected devices by 2020,” (Emil Berthelsen, Principal Analyst at Machina Research), “Of those billions of devices, over half will include geodata and about one-third will critically depend on it.”


The LoRa geolocation solution is positioned to serve this need by offering extremely power efficient, GPS-free location capability for a wide variety of markets, including automotive, logistics, consumer, insurance, agriculture, construction and others.


Jaap Groot, Vice President of System Business Development for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Product Group, adds, “In order to serve the expected needs of companies using LoRa, our team developed groundbreaking technology to leverage the full potential of IoT. Adding geolocation to end nodes without increasing the bill of material or draining the batteries should open up a new arena of use cases and is expected to drive substantial revenue streams for LoRaWAN network operators.”


Semtech’s list of features includes; low cost – all LoRa-enabled end nodes are supported natively, which eliminates any impact on the bill of materials; power-efficient – network-derived geolocation does not require any additional processing on the end node maintaining the standard extremely low power consumption of LoRa; secure – over-the-air