Non-Line Of Sight


Non-Line Of Sight (NLOS) refers to a communication or transmission of signals without a clear, unobstructed path between the sender and receiver. This is often a challenge in wireless communication systems, such as radio and cellular networks, where physical barriers, like buildings or terrain, can obstruct the signal’s path. NLOS technologies use various techniques, such as signal reflection, diffraction, or penetration, to maintain connection and data transfer even when the line of sight is obstructed.

Key Takeaways

  1. Non-Line Of Sight (NLOS) refers to the ability of wireless communication devices to transmit and receive signals without having a direct visual link or clear path between the transmitter and receiver.
  2. NLOS technology is crucial for providing connectivity in areas with obstacles such as buildings, trees, or terrain, allowing signals to bend around or penetrate these obstructions to reach the intended destination.
  3. Various NLOS technologies, such as WiMAX, UHF, and MIMO, use different strategies like signal reflection, refraction, and diffraction to maintain reliable communication links, extending the range and flexibility of wireless networks.


The technology term Non-Line Of Sight (NLOS) is important because it refers to the ability of wireless communication systems to transmit and receive signals effectively when a direct visual path between the transmitter and receiver is obstructed.

This is particularly crucial for communication in urban environments, mountainous terrains, or forested areas where buildings, landforms, and vegetation can block the line of sight between devices.

NLOS technology significantly expands the coverage of wireless networks, improving connectivity, reliability, and accessibility for users.

It enables applications such as mobile broadband, emergency services communication, and smart city infrastructure, resulting in increased efficiency, safety, and convenience in various aspects of daily life.


Non-line of sight (NLOS) technology serves a critical purpose in the field of wireless communication by enabling data transmission in environments with numerous obstructions such as buildings, hills, or trees. In urban areas and other locations with a high density of structural impediments, maintaining a clear line of sight between transmitter and receiver is often impossible.

NLOS technology addresses this challenge, facilitating seamless communication in such complex scenarios. This contributes significantly to the viability of wireless networks, such as mobile networks or wireless Internet services, as they continue to expand globally and connect users who live or work amidst these obstacles.

NLOS communication relies on innovative techniques that manipulate radio signals, allowing them to penetrate, diffract, or reflect off obstructions in their transmission path. For example, utilizing multi-path propagation, signals bounce off buildings or other structures, creating alternative paths that ultimately converge at the receiver.

Additionally, NLOS systems often employ various frequencies, modulation schemes, and antenna diversity techniques to enhance signal robustness and optimize performance in challenging environments. By harnessing these methods, NLOS technology plays a vital role in improving the reliability and quality of wireless communication services, powering applications such as cellular networks, military communications, and emergency response systems.

Examples of Non-Line Of Sight

TV Signal Reception in Rural Areas: In rural or remote areas, receiving television signals can be challenging due to the terrain’s natural obstacles such as mountains and hills. Receiving over-the-air TV signals usually requires a line-of-sight connection between the receiver and the broadcasting tower. In these cases, non-line-of-sight (NLOS) technologies such as satellite TV and microwave point-to-multipoint transmission systems are employed to overcome these obstacles and provide reliable television reception.

Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs): WISPs often use NLOS technologies to provide internet access in areas where laying fiber-optic cables or establishing a direct line of sight connection is difficult or expensive. By using high-frequency radio waves that can penetrate physical obstacles like buildings and trees, NLOS wireless technologies such as WiMAX and LTE are able to deliver broadband internet access to businesses and residences in rural or densely built urban areas.

Military Operations: Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) technologies play a significant role in modern military operations, particularly concerning communications, surveillance, and weapon systems. For example, NLOS missile systems like the “Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System” (NLOS-LS) can be fired from concealed locations with indirect targeting information, increasing the element of surprise and minimizing the danger to the launch platform. Additionally, NLOS communication systems allow military forces to maintain connectivity in difficult terrains or urban environments where line-of-sight connections may not be possible.

Non-Line-of-Sight Technology: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) technology?

Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) technology refers to different wireless communication methods that allow signals to travel around or through obstacles, rather than requiring a direct line of sight between the transmitter and receiver. This enables more robust and reliable communication in various environments where physical obstructions may exist.

What are the common applications of NLOS technology?

Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) technology is often used in wireless communication systems, such as cellular networks, Wi-Fi, and military communications. It is particularly useful in dense urban areas, where buildings and other obstructions can block direct line of sight. NLOS technology can also be applied to remote sensing, surveillance systems, and drone communications, among other applications.

What are the different types of NLOS technologies?

There are several types of NLOS technologies, including radio frequency (RF) systems, MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), and ultrawideband (UWB) systems. Each type has its own advantages and limitations, depending on the specific application and environment. For example, RF systems are versatile and can handle various obstacles but may encounter interference from other sources, while UWB systems are less susceptible to interference but have a limited range.

What are the advantages of using NLOS over Line-of-Sight (LOS) technology?

Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) technology offers several advantages over Line-of-Sight (LOS) communication systems. The primary benefit is the ability to maintain connectivity despite the presence of physical obstructions. NLOS systems can also offer improved network coverage, particularly in urban areas with a high density of obstacles. Additionally, NLOS technology can improve signal penetration through walls and other barriers, leading to better indoor coverage.

What are the challenges associated with NLOS technology?

Despite its advantages, Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) technology faces several challenges, including signal attenuation, multipath propagation, and interference from other sources. Signal attenuation occurs when signals lose strength as they pass through or around obstacles. Multipath propagation can cause signal distortion and degradation as the signals bounce off of multiple surfaces. Additionally, NLOS systems may face interference from other wireless devices and networks, resulting in reduced performance or connectivity issues.

Related Technology Terms

  • Beyond Visual Range (BVR)
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Propagation
  • Obstacle Penetration
  • Non-LOS Wireless Communication
  • Fresnel Zone

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents