Connectivity in IoT Devices

October 30, 2020 By 0 Comments

With increasing number of connected devices, the wireless technologies that support them are also under a radar.

The most common connectivity protocol used in IoT devices are Bluetooth, WiFi, GSM, LoRaWAN, LTE & NB-IOT. Each of these technologies will likely play an important role in the IoT space depending on the end application, so understanding the features and difference of each is critical.

Following is the top-level comparison chart between all these technologies.

Connectivity in IoT

Let’s understand each technology to understand their pros and cons and their application.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), ANT are radio protocols and generally used for PAN (Personal Area Network). Bluetooth/BLE sensors are on person’s body or in close proximity to them.

It is suitable for applications where devices stay in close proximity of each other. It’s suitable for health sensors, bicycles, smart wearables etc.

As range of Bluetooth/BLE is limited it’s not suitable for devices which are placed at long distance and required high amount of data communication.

WiFi

WiFi is generally used along with high speed broadband connection in a closed environment. Typical range of WiFi is less than 100 square meter per access point.

It is suitable for applications where devices are within certain area. Typically, WiFi is used for security camera where dedicated bandwidth is required.

WiFi only works in a space where it’s setup and has very limited range. WiFi uses substantial amount of power so it’s not suitable for battery operated devices.

GSM

GSM is widely accepted low cost cellular technology mainly used for voice but having support for data in the form of SMS and GPRS.

GSM supports long range connectivity and widely used in applications like traffic lights, vehicle tracking and livestock tracking.

GSM is always on protocol and requires lot of power, so it’s not suitable for battery operated devices.

LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN is a low speed, but long range and low power communication protocol. It’s open and free to use. Anyone can implement the protocol on their devices.

LoRaWan is idle for applications that sends very less amount of data at specific intervals like soil health monitoring system where sensors sends data at periodic interval. LoRaWAN is generally used in isolated network on a farm or a city.

Not suitable for applications which required immediate feedback. To implement LoRaWAN one has to invest in their own network and base station.

NB-IOT

Runs in mobile telephone radio spectrum and piggybacks on old , unused GSM/LTE channels.

It requires dedicated expensive frequency. Widely adopted in GPS based tracking applications.

It requires SIM card, data connection and subscription service to use NB-IOT technology.

LTE

LTE is 4th generation mobile technology used for voice call and data. Its low range but high data rate protocol and can be used in data sensitive applications.

As LTE supports significantly high data rate it’s widely used in media streaming applications which are very data sensitive.

Just like GSM it’s always on protocol so it’s not suitable for battery operated devices.


In nutshell, which connectivity protocol to be used in IoT devices is based completely based on the use case and application you are creating.