The IEEE 802.15.4 standard is designed to provide a low-power, low data rate protocol offering a high reliability. As an amendment to this standard, IEEE 802.15.4a introduces new options for physical layer to enable precision ranging. In this work, we analyzed the theoretical throughput and delay bounds of the unslotted version of chirp spread spectrum PHY-based 802.15.4a. The formulae for transmission between one sender and one receiver for an ideal channel with no transmission errors are given. The throughput and delay bounds are derived for different frequency bands and data rates. Additionally, to measure spectral utilization, we measured the bandwidth efficiency for both the standards. We also compared our results with IEEE 802.15.4. The comparative analysis concludes that the performance of 802.15.4a exceeds 802.15.4 in terms of throughput and delay. The analytical results of throughput are verified by computer simulations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.