Low Power Wireless Sensor Networks - Market Overview


Wireless Sensor Networks (WPNs) are crucial to development of the Internet Of Things, yet these pose various challenges in terms of multiplexing, power efficiency, range and transmission speed. This document delivers high-level comparison of Zigbee, 6LoWPAN, Bluetooth Low Energy, LoRa and Narrowband-IoT in listed areas.

Range and Power Efficiency

One of the most important parameters defined for best technology selection are its range and power efficiency. Depending on given use case scenario those two may vary significantly ranging from large scale main-powered and long-reach networks to mesh-based topology incorporating ultra low power short range devices. Following the topic of this document, content of this section will list key features of state-of-the-art wireless technologies utilized to implement Low Power Wireless Sensors Networks.


Important thing to notice is the fact that almost all solutions presented in this document use IEEE 802.15.4 standard as backbone assumptions being a foundation of further development process. IEEE 802.15.4 is a standard introducing recommendations concerning both physical (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layers of Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks (LR-WPANS).

Power Efficiency

Multiple Access and Data Rates


WPNs can be divided by a topology. Framework to discuss the network would be a typical IoT scenario with following elements:

  • Node - sensor capable of wireless communication

  • Intermediary - depending on context:

    • router between nodes within the same protocol

    • router between node and other protocol networks

    • protocol translator

    • mix of any of these

  • IP Network - Internet or LAN

One type is an ad-hoc network, this is decentralized topology where each node is able to perform routing to any other node. Such network has the self-healing property: in case used route is unavailable, another one is immediately created. Amongst discussed protocols, only Bluetooth and 6LoWPAN are capable of this topology.

Bluetooth Low Energy networks, called piconets, there is at least one master device per seven more energy efficient slaves.

A typical ad-hoc network: some nodes connect directly to the intermediary, some through other nodes.