Other IoT (Besides BLE)

I wanted to let you know that there are other IoT protocols out there besides BLE. We hear a lot about BLE, and last time, I wrote a lot about the operation of BLE.

This time I want to write about other alternatives. This isn’t going to be a comprehensive list but, hopefully, will give you a flavor of what is out there.

Where to start? Well let’s start with Wi-FI. Wi-Fi operates in 2.4GHz and 5GHz (and soon 6GHz, but we’ll ignore that for now). Most people don’t automatically register Wi-Fi with IoT but there are IoT devices out there that use Wi-Fi.

Most IoT protocols run on top of 802.15.4 or a variant of it. These protocols are ideal for IoT systems.

IoT protocols that use 2.4GHz include Bluetooth/BLE, Zigbee and WirelessHART. These operate in the same frequency space as 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.

We also have CBRS (private LTE) operating around 3.6 MHz.

Most of the rest of the more common protocols* operate Sub-1GHz. Usually operating around 800-900+MHz (country dependent in many cases). This is where you will find Z-Wave, LoRa, Thread, and HaLow.

Let’s have a high-level overview of WirelessHART, LoRa, Thread and HaLow.

WirelessHART operates in the 2.4GHz ISM band and is designed to be low-power and have long battery life. Used in industrial and especially refinery industries. Here is a link to a great overview of WirelessHART by my colleague and friend, Troy Martin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkoY5NF0fVY

LoRa stands for Long Range. It is designed to allow communication between 2 points (P2P) over long distances. LoRaWAN is based on LoRa and is the protocol for building a network.

Thread is a mesh-based system based on 802.15.4. It runs on IP(v6) and is designed to create device-to-device, or device-to-cloud communications. Thread builds on top of 6LowPAN, which is IPv6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area networks.

HaLow was created by the Wi-Fi Alliance and is sometimes called Wi-Fi for IoT. It is based on 802.11ah and thus runs below 1GHz (S1G). It has low-power and long-range, penetrating walls and building due to its operation below 1GHz. It is designed to be very power efficient, running for years on coin cell-type batteries. Like other Sub-1GHz protocols the exact frequencies that HaLow runs on is region dependent.

Well there you go. Now you know more about IoT and some of the various protocols that exist to support it.

See you next time!


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