Wireless Connectivity Options For Iot Applications – Technology Comparison

In the previous post in the series, we talked about the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all wireless connectivity solution for all projects. We also looked at the most popular IoT applications in the industrial and commercial space and listed the most important attributes and popular candidates relevant for these types of applications.

In this article, we’ll look at the different wireless connectivity technologies in a bit more detail and compare them in terms of the most important attributes applicable in the case of commercial and industrial IoT applications.

The technologies we’ll be comparing are:

  • IEEE 802.15.4-Based Technologies (Thread, Zigbee).
  • Z-Wave
  • Cellular Low-Power Wide Area Network Technologies (NB-IoT, LTE-M)
  • Non-Cellular Low-Power Wide Area Network Technologies (LoRaWAN, Sigfox)

The attributes we’ll be comparing for each of the technologies are:

  • Range
  • Throughput
  • Power consumption
  • Cost
  • Topology

Before we cover how these different technologies compare in terms of the attributes, let’s briefly introduce each technology. Going into detail for each of these technologies is out of scope for this article.

Bluetooth Technology

Bluetooth® technology is a low-power wireless solution that operates in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. It has expanded over the years and now provides tremendous flexibility in range, bandwidth, and communications topologies to address different IoT applications.

Technical Details

There are two different Bluetooth radio options: Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). Bluetooth Classic (or BR/EDR) is the original Bluetooth radio that’s still widely used in streaming applications, especially audio streaming. Bluetooth LE, on the other hand, has traditionally focused on low-bandwidth applications that involve infrequent data transmission between devices. Bluetooth LE is known for its very low power consumption and its proliferation in smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

Bluetooth LE provides the option to operate in point-to-point, star, mesh, and broadcast topologies. In a mesh topology, nodes connect directly to each other without the need to communicate with others through a central hub. This allows nodes to relay data and information to other nodes out of reach from the original source node, extending the reach of the network in a large area.

Primary Use Cases

Bluetooth LE is most popular in health and fitness devices, smart lighting systems, real-time location systems, and indoor navigation applications.

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