900 MHz Is Your NLOS Friend

November 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM


Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) applications can be difficult to overcome when designing a wireless network. Trees, buildings and other obstructions can be formidable foes when trying to establish a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint wireless link. Able to break through most obstacles, 900MHz is the ideal ally when dealing with NLOS situations.

Of the unlicensed ISM frequencies used in the United States, 900 MHz is the perfect choice for NLOS wireless networks. Unlike the very popular 2.4 GHz frequency band, 900 MHz wireless transmissions are not absorbed by leaves and trees that contain water. This makes 900 MHz the ideal solution for dealing with trees and other foliage in the line of site.


900MHz signals can travel up to 1,500 feet through obstructions such as trees and buildings.  For indoor wireless NLOS applications, some higher powered 900 MHz radios can penetrate up to 10 walls!


Despite all of its benefits, the 900 MHz frequency does have some drawbacks and limitations including:


- A limited amount of unlicensed bandwidth in the 900 MHz spectrum (only 26 MHz). If there are a lot of other devices in close range, using the same spectrum range, excessive "noise" from nearby devices could adversely affect signal quality


- 900 MHz supports lower data rates than the 2.4 and 5 GHz ISM frequency bands, in most cases only 1 to 1.5 Mbps maximum

- In most countries outside of the United States, 900MHz is not open for unlicensed use


When planning a wireless network without clear line-of-sight, for any application that involves NLOS conditions and lower data rates, 900 MHz may be your best bet.


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