Determine which of the 4 IoT wireless networks fits your use case


IoT applications need the right kind of network connectivity to be successful and can even use multiple IoT wireless networks, but administrators need to sort out the technology options first.

The IoT includes devices in the physical world with network connectivity and the data collected or generated by those devices. As a relatively new market, IoT consists of many connectivity technologies competing for their share of the ever-growing IoT market and many avenues for continued growth. The IoT market and the number of use cases will only increase over time and with new generations of each technology.

The connectivity technologies available cover both wired and wireless. Businesses often choose wireless technologies for IoT applications because they offer advantages in terms of ease of deployment and configuration. Administrators should also understand the types of IoT wireless networks and the requirements that each meet in an IoT deployment.

Wireless technologies consist of licensed and unlicensed technologies. One or a small group of licensed technology operators benefit from regulatory exclusivity. Mobile, or cellular, is a well-known example of licensed technology. With unlicensed or unlicensed technologies, any technology or set of users operating within regulatory parameters specified for spectrum can operate equipment. For example, IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi equipment and microwave ovens are two well-known unlicensed technologies.

Explore IoT wireless network technologies and market segments

Several wireless technologies are claiming a role in the IoT market space. For example, organizations use licensed mobile operator services based on LTE for Machines (LTE-M) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) in vehicle tracking and alarm system applications. Reach is often an important factor in selecting and deploying a technology and network for IoT. For wireless networks, lower frequency bands support longer radio frequency transmission ranges. Carrier services are ideal for applications requiring long distance coverage, such as roads and railroads, which can be costly for an organization to build from scratch. Organizations can consider different IoT wireless network options, which can be grouped into types, including cellular networks, low power wide area networks (LPWAN), local area networks, and personal area networks (PANs).

Cellular. Cellular refers to licensed mobile operator services based on LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies. 5G is the technological evolution of current 4G LTE-M systems. Operator services are ideally suited for applications requiring long distance coverage away from the corporate campus, such as vehicle tracking and alarm systems. It is not economical for an organization to build a large network on its own. Service providers generally require a subscription to an operator.

LPWAN. This technology refers to non-cellular offerings that support low power devices at low data rates over a large area. The data rates of these networks support 100 bps at 27 Kbit / s. The ranges supported are typically 10 to 40 kilometers. Commercial LPWAN networks include long-range WAN, an LPWAN technology developed by the LoRa Alliance and the Sigfox 0G network. These are subscription services, intended for low-power sensor devices that require extensive coverage.

IoT deployments often include multiple technologies, such as Bluetooth for device integration and Wi-Fi for data transfer and device control.

LAN. Technologies with LAN connectivity share a wireless link to a specific geographic area. Wireless LAN uses the IEEE 802.11 specification to support battery-powered Wi-Fi applications and IoT in the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz bands. Low-power Wi-Fi 6 devices in limited battery applications will support next-generation 802.11 technologies and IoT in 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz. Wi-Fi 6 devices will increase the number of IoT applications and use cases using Wi-Fi as they offer low cost, low power consumption and easy access to internet applications.

Organizations that already have a Wi-Fi network are ideal for using Wi-Fi connectivity for IoT deployments because they can simply use the existing network. Wi-Fi supports transparent TCP / IP transport, higher data rates, and over-the-air firmware or software updates for devices. Examples of IoT devices based on Wi-Fi and IEEE 802.11 include refrigerators, rice cookers, audio speakers, and thermostats. Organizations are also using Wi-Fi for HVAC connectivity in smart buildings.

PAN. PAN technology targets devices that need to communicate over short distances, typically around 10 meters. Well-known examples of IoT PAN technology are Zigbee technology based on IEEE 802.15.4, defined by the Zigbee Alliance, and Bluetooth, developed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Industrial control and building automation systems that use unlicensed Zigbee wireless technology have seen market growth. Smart building systems, wearable devices, and asset beacons also use Bluetooth. Location services and asset tracking are a common use case for Bluetooth IoT devices.

How IoT wireless networking technologies come together

IoT deployments often include multiple technologies, such as Bluetooth for device integration and Wi-Fi for data transfer and device control. Consumer wireless speaker implementations typically use both networks, and organizations often deploy multiple wireless systems, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth.

Organizations use management systems to deploy and monitor multiple networks and nominations. Management and security are essential; the complexity of managing and maintaining large networks – IoT or otherwise – with tens of thousands of devices can be expensive and inefficient. Already established network management and AI operating systems for enterprise Wi-Fi expand to cover the integration, classification, management and security of IoT devices.


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