Short range wireless communication technology vs long range wireless communication technology

Short range wireless communication technology vs long range wireless communication technology
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    Short range wireless communication technology vs long range wireless communication technology

    Wireless communications technology has taken off in the market because it provides convenience and flexibility to electronic devices and networks, and its installation does not require expensive cables and wiring. The military, industry, agriculture, home appliances and many other industries need to use wireless communication technology. And each industry requires different technical characteristics because of its use and environment. Both Short Range Wireless Communication Technology and Long Range Wireless Communication technology have their own characteristics. Developers need to choose different technologies for their applications. In this article, we will deeply discuss the differences between Short Range Wireless Communication technology and Long Range Wireless Communication technology. And help you decide which wireless technologies and solutions are right for you.

    Short range wireless communication technology

    Short distance wireless communication technology is a network protocol in which remote nodes are connected over very short distances. Short range radio communication can minimize power, volume, heat, and cost. It also features a wide range of scenarios, technologies, and requirements, making it the ideal solution for commercial building automation, high-density greenhouse sensing, and residential energy monitoring. Most are implemented in the form of small, low-cost IC or complete plug-in modules. We define short range wireless communication technology as the system that provides wireless connection in the range of local interaction and list it into several types for you to understand.

    12 types of Short range wireless communication technology

    • Bluetooth
    • Cellular
    • Wifi
    • Zigbee
    • UWB
    • IR
    • IEEE
    • ISM Band
    • Near-Field Communications
    • RFID
    • 6LoWPAN
    • Z- wave

    12 types of short range wireless communication technology


    Bluetooth is a short range wireless communication technology based on IEEE 802.5.1 standard, which consumes less power than WiFi. Bluetooth was originally designated for data transfer from a personal computer to peripheral devices such as a mouse, keyboard, printer, cell phone, headset, personal digital assistant, etc. For these types of applications, Bluetooth is called WPAN(Wireless Personal Area Network). Bluetooth uses a star network topology that allows a simple network of up to seven devices to communicate with a single access point.

    Bluetooth works in the 2.4 Hz ISM band and is modulated using frequency-hopping spread spectrum with GFSK, differential DQPSK or (8DPSK. The total basic data rate is 1mbit /s for GFSK, 2mbits /s for DQPSK, and 3mbits /s for 8DPSK. There’re also 3 power levels 0 dBm (1 mW), 4 dBm (2.5 mW) and 20 dBm (100 mW), which basically determine the distance. The standard distance is around ten meters with maximum power of over 100 meters, and has a clear path.

    The Bluetooth module of MOKOSMART integrates the BLE protocol. BLE is a simple way to configure modules, record data from establish location beacons and battery-powered wireless sensors. Communication ranges are 300 feet or less, and fortunately it utilizes little power, that’s why it’s a good secondary protocol for IoT solutions.


    Wi-fi is a short range wireless communication technology based on the IEEE 802.11 series standard. It is commonly used in PCS laptops and desktops, smart TVS, smartphones, drones, smart speakers, printers and cars. Wi-fi bands have pretty high absorption and are best suited for line-of-sight use. Many common obstacles, such as walls, household appliances, etc., may greatly reduce the range. However, it also helps to reduce interference between different networks.

    IEEE 802.11a operates at 5GHz with a maximum data rate of 54Mbps. IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11g operate at 2.4ghz with maximum data transmission rates of 11Mbps and 54Mbps, respectively. In addition, there are several different wireless frequency ranges available for WiFi communication :900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 5.9 GHz and 60 GHz bands. Each range is divided into multiple channels. Each country has its own regulations on the allowed channels. The ISM band range is also widely used.

    The Wi-Fi embedded module is interoperable with any nearby base station and has a standard Wi-Fi range of up to 300 feet with high throughput. This partially offsets the additional configuration complexity of Wi-Fi and the additional cost of more power-hungry protocols, making it ideal for adding devices to an existing network. Just make sure that your preparation plan includes substantial resources for managing multiple authentication settings over time.


    ZigBee is a short range wireless communication protocol based on IEEE 802.15.4. It is utilized to create PANs with low-power and small digital radios that are cheaper than other wireless personal area networks (Wpans) like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and can be used for home automation and medical device data collection. Applications include traffic management systems, wireless light switches, electricity meters with home displays, and other devices that require short-range, low-rate wireless data transmission. In summary, Zigbee is a low-power, low-data rate, close-range (that is, personal area) wireless network.

    This standard operates in the unlicensed ISM bands of 2.4 to 2.4835 GHz(worldwide), 902 to 928 MHz(USA and Australia), and 868 to 868.6 MHz(Europe). The 16 channels are allocated in the 2.4 GHz band and are 5 MHz apart, although each channel uses only 2MHz of bandwidth. The radio uses direct sequence spread spectrum coding. The digital stream manages this into the modulator. BPSK is operated in the 868 and 915 MHz bands, and OQPSK is operated in the 2.4 GHz band, transmitting 2 bits per symbol.

    The raw wireless data rate for the 2.4 GHz band is 250kbit /s per channel, the 915 MHz band is 40kbit /s per channel, and the 868 MHz band is 20kbit /s. For indoor applications, 2.4 GHz transmission range is 10-20 meters.


    Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a short range radio communication technology standard defined by the WiMedia Alliance. It can use ultra-low power consumption to avoid interference in the specified frequency band of 3.1 ~ 10.6 GHZ for short-range, high-bandwidth communication. The maximum communication distance is about ten meters. In most applications, the range is less than a few meters. The frequency band is divided into multiple 528-mhz wide channels. The data rate ranges from 53mbits /s to 480mbits /s. Uwb primarily provides high-speed data connections for televisions, cameras, laptops ,etc. Recent applications are focused on sensor data collection, tracking applications, and precision positioning. Unlike spread spectrum, the transmission mode of UWB does not affect the traditional narrowband and carrier transmission in the same frequency band.


    Infrared wireless adopts a low-frequency, invisible light connection rather than radio. The main wavelength range is 850 ~ 940 μm. The emitter uses infrared light emitting diode, the receiver uses diode photo detector and amplifier. Light waves are often modulated with high-frequency signals, which in turn are encoded and modulated to be transmitted.

    IrDA is a separate standard to transfer data. The Infrared Data Association maintains its specifications. The increasing rate ranges from 9.6 to 115.2 kbits/s, including 4mbits /s, 16mbits /s, 96mbits /s, and 512mbits /s to 1gbit /s. New standards for 5 and 10gbit /s rates are under development, with ranges of less than a metre.

    IR has several key benefits. First, because it is light and not radio waves, it is not susceptible to any form of radio interference. Second, its signal is difficult to intercept or spoof, so it is highly secure.

    Infrared spectroscopy was once widely used in printers, laptops and cameras. It has been largely replaced by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other short range wireless communication technology. At present, RF remote control is still commonly applied in consumer remote control.

    IEEE 802.15.4

    IEEE 802.15.4 is created to support point-to-point links and wireless sensor networks. Several wireless standards use the 802.15.4 standard as the PHY/MAC base

    The standard defines 3 basic frequency distance. The most commonly used band is the global 2.4 GHZ ISM band. The basic data rate is 250kbits /s. The other range is the 902-928 MHZ ISM band (10 channels) in the United States. Data rate is 40kbits /s or 250kbits /s.

    All 3 ranges are modulated using DSSS with BPSK or offset QPSK. The minimum defined power level is -3 dBm (0.5 mW). 0 dBm is the widely used power level. A 20 DBM level is for remote applications. Its typical range is no more than ten meters.

    IEEE 802.22

    The IEEE 802.22 standard, also known as the Wireless Area Network (WRAN) standard, is one of the latest IEEE wireless standards. It is designed for use on unused broadcast television channels without a license, called white space. The frequency range of 6 MHZ channels are from 470 MHZ to 698 MHZ. However, the standard has not been commonly adopted. White space radio uses proprietary protocols and wireless standards.

    802.22 radios should meet strict requirements and find unused channels due to potential interference with TV stations. Radios use frequency-flexible circuits to scan unused channels and listen for potential interference signals. A base station communicates radially with multiple fixed-location users to obtain Internet access or other services.

    The standard offer sufficient spectral efficiency to meet multiple user channels with download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbit /s and upload speeds of 384 kbit/s. The maximum data rate per 6mhz channel is between 18 and 22mbits /s. The biggest advantage of the 22 is that it uses both VHF and low UHF frequencies and can provide very long range connections. With a maximum allowable effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) of 4 W, a base station range of 100 km (almost 60 mi) is possible.

    ISM band

    The most commonly used ISM frequency band is 2.4- to 2.483-ghz for Wi-Fi, cordless phones, Bluetooth, 802.15.4 radio, etc. The second most popular band is the 902-928-mhz band.

    Other widely used ISM frequencies are 315 MHz for RKE applications and garage door opening,and the 433 MHz is for remote temperature monitoring. Other less commonly adopted frequencies are 13.56 MHz, 27 MHz, and 72 MHz.

    The near field communication

    Near Field communication is an ultra short range wireless communication technology mainly for similar applications and secure payment transactions. It has a maximum range of about 20 cm and a typical connection distance of 4 to 5 cm. This short distance increases the the connection security, which is also encrypted. Many smartphones include NFC capabilities, and the goal is to implement an NFC payment system where consumers can tap and pay with their phones.

    The NFC uses the ISM management frequency of 13.56-mhz. At this lower frequency, the transmit loop antenna and the receive loop antenna. The transmission is through the magnetic field of the signal instead of the accompanying electric field.

    NFC is also used to read tags. The unpowered tag converts the RF signal into a DC power supply that provides application-specific information to the processor and memory. Many NFC transceiver chips can be used to implement new applications, and multiple standards exist.

    Radio frequency identification

    Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is mainly used to identify, locate, track and manage inventory. A nearby reader sends a high-power RF signal to power the passive tag and then reads the data stored in the tag’s memory.

    RFID tags are flat, cheap, small and can be attached to anything that need to be identified or monitored. In some applications, they have replaced bar codes. RFID adopts the ISM frequency of 13.56-mhz, but other frequencies are also used, including 125 kHz, 134.5 kHz, and frequencies in the 902-928-mhz range. Various ISO/IEC standards exist.

    6 LoWPAN

    6LoWPAN refers to IPv6 protocols in low-power wireless PANs. Developed by the ITEF, it offers a way to transmit IPv4 and IPv6 Internet protocols over low-power wireless mesh networks and peer-to-peer links. The RFC4944 also allows the implementation of the IoT on the smallest remote devices. This protocol provides encapsulation and header compression routines for 802.15.4 radio.

    Z – wave

    Z-wave is a short range wireless mesh network technology with up to 232 nodes. The wireless transceiver operates in the ISM band (908.42 MHz) in the United States and Canada, but uses other frequencies according to national regulations. Modulation mode is GFSK. Data rates include 9600 bits/ SEC and 40 kbits/ SEC. In free-space conditions, the distance can be up to 30 meters. The range of penetration through the wall is much shorter. Z-wave’s main applications are thermostats, door locks, home automation, lighting, smoke detectors, security and other household appliances.

    Comparison between UWB,WIFI,Zigbee, and Bluetooth

    Typical applications of short range wireless communication technology

    Wireless is a simple and low-cost addition to almost any new product, and it can also improve convenience, performance or marketing.


    Home consumer electronics are loaded with wireless. Almost all entertainment products have IR remote controls. Energy metering and accessory monitors,remote thermometers, wireless thermostats, and other weather monitors, security systems, garage door openers, smart parking sensor are also connected to wireless network . Almost every family have Wi-Fi connected.

    household applications of short range wireless communication technology


    Wireless temperature and humidity monitoring, lighting control and wireless thermostats are commonly used commercial applications. Some video surveillance cameras use wireless instead of coaxial cables. Wireless payment systems for mobile phones promise to revolutionize commerce.

    commercial applications of short range wireless communication technology


    Wired connections are gradually replaced by wireless in industry. Remote monitoring of flow, humidity, temperature, and pressure are common application. Wireless control of robots, industrial processes and machine tools promotes convenience and boost economy in industrial Settings. M2M technology opens the door to many applications like automobile positioning (GPS) and monitoring vending machines. The IoT is mostly wireless. Radio frequency identification technology makes it possible to track and locate almost anything more easily.

    short range wireless communication technology in industrial manufacturing

    Long range wireless communication technology

    Remote IoT wireless technologies form the basis of LPWAN. Low-energy end devices connect to gateways, which transmit data to other network servers and devices. The network device evaluates the received data and controls the end device. Therefore, the protocol is specifically designed for low-power devices, reduced operating costs and remote capabilities. There are many LPWAN technologies that provide different performance, business models, and so on, to meet the needs of different applications. Industrial park monitoring, mart city projects, smart city projects, and remote mining or drilling are commonly used applications.

    5 types of long range wireless communication technology


    LoRaWAN is a CSS (Chirp Spread Spectrum) modulated standard developed by SEMTECH that works at 900 MHz, 868 MHz and 400 MHz. LoRaWAN solutions offer specific products for the gateway and sensor of wireless communications. Optimized for small payloads and more than thousands of devices per gateway, it can be used for low-latency power supply operations and low-power battery operations.

    LoRa communication is somewhat resilient to detection and interference, and is not affected by Doppler bias and can penetrate obstacles.

    LoRa provides several parameters that is able to be modified to adjust the trade off between range and data rate (0.3 KBPS~50 KBPS), such as the spread factor. LoRa is a physical layer technology, and LoRaWAN[20] is an open protocol supported by LoRa Alliance for MAC layer and network layer. LoRaWAN describes three types of devices. Roughly speaking, class A is a highly energy constrained device, class B is a moderately energy constrained device, and class C is an always-on device. The LoRaWAN sensor consumes very little power and has a line-of-sight of up to 100 km with 2-way communication. Typical non-line-of-sight applications can be up to 20 km. Gateways connect multiple devices and are managed through a cloud platform to offer scalability at scale.

    Utility applications, inventory tracking, smart metering, automotive industry, vending monitoring are commonly used long range wireless LoRa technology.

    Here are the various technical parameters of LoRa:

    MOKOSMART provides LoRaWAN modules, gateways, and End-node devices.If you’re considering deploying lorawan technology,then our end-to-end solution can be your option.


    SigFox is a long range wireless communication technology tailored for remote (30-50 km in rural areas, 3-10 km in urban areas), low data rates (up to 12 bytes per message). 140 messages per end device per day, and preferably low power operations. SigFox uses the sub-ghz band and uses BPSK modulation ultra-narrowband technology. The terminal device using SigFox technology transmits the data to the SigFox base station, which then forwards the data to the SigFox cloud server. The data is processed here.

    SigFox does not require a SIM card. The number of those messages and number of messages sent per day decide the price. Location monitoring, simple metering and basic alarm systems are applications of one-way systems. The signal is sent several times to “ensure” that there are some limitations to messaging, such as the short battery life of battery-powered applications and the lack of ability to ensure that messages are received by the tower.

    Here are the various technical parameters of SigFox:


    3GPP created the LTE Machine Type Communication (LTE-M) standard. Lte-m transmits in the licensed subghz band, with frequencies range from 700 to 900 MHz. The uplink and downlink data rates are about 1mbps. This low-power approach can help extend the battery-powered end devices life by up to 10 to 20 years. Lte-m also uses existing cellular wireless infrastructure to make it more robust and secure for services with high quality requirements.

    However, one drawback of LTE-M is the high cost of using licensed cellular wireless networks. Each terminal device requires its own SIM card, which leads to increased maintenance and installation cost, as well as operating expenses. Moreover, the current LTE-M SIM card business is relatively complex.

    Smart metering, smart cities, smart buildings, connected health, and automotive transportation are key applications of LTE-M.

    The following are the technical parameters of LTE-M:

    Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT)

    Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-iot), also known as LTE Cat NB1, is another derivative of the LTE standard. It is based on narrowband communication and uses a bandwidth of 180khz. As a result, data rates are greatly reduced (about 250 KBPS for downlink and 20 KBPS for uplink), which makes FotA updates difficult to implement with NB-iot. Nb-iot can use 3 different modes: guard-band LTE, standalone and in-band. The in-band mode uses the LTE frequency band, the protected frequency band uses the unused part of the LTE frequency band, and the independent frequency band uses the dedicated frequency band (such as GSM frequency band). Nb-iot does not support handoff and is not worth considering for mobile IoT applications.


    5G is the latest innovation in mobile network technology that is currently being developed. 5G aims to enable ultra-high speed communication, using both high frequency (e.g., 60 GHz) and broadband [16]. It aims to provide very high data rates (1-10 Gbps). This does not seem to be a  preferable solution when you consider energy constrained iot objects. Moreover, the technology is not yet available outside of testing LABS. Currently, 5G is targeting two things: large-scale mMTC and cMTC leveraging Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC). Apart from eMTC and NB-iot, no specific solution planning has been specified for 5G IoT.

    Combined solution: short distance + long distance

    There are advantages and disadvantages to either long or short distance communication. So, sometimes, the best solution is to combine several different connection types. For example, in remote environmental remote sensing applications, it is best to use a Zigbee short distance wireless communication technology to densely cover a relatively small area, such as an oil rig, and then transmit data back to a remote control center via remote radio. In less remote places, this might also be a good return trip option if you have a cell phone. The same network also enables a very short range BLE, allowing sensors to be configured directly from a local smartphone. Combining several protocols creates the ideal internet of things solution.

    As below is an overview of the power consumption, protocol, and data rate.

    short range wireless communication technology and Long range wireless communication technology

    Wireless application selection list

    How do we find the best solution? First, you must consider all the variables, including:

    • Range: What is the maximum and minimum distance from the transmitter to the receiver? Is the distance variable or fixed?
    • Duplex or simplex: Is the application unidirectional or bidirectional? One-way paths are only required for some remote control applications and monitoring applications.
    • Number of nodes: How many transmitters/receivers will be required? Only two nodes are required in a simpler system. If a network of devices is involved, you need to determine how many transmitters and receivers need to be deployed and define their interactions.
    • Data Rate: What is the speed at which data is transferred? Low speed for surveillance or high speed for video transmission? The lowest speed is beneficial to improve the noise resistance and reliability of the link.
    • Potential Interference: Are there other wireless devices and systems nearby? Or noise from power lines, machinery, and other sources of interference.
    • Environment: Is the application indoors or outdoors? If it’s in outdoors, are there barriers from structures such as buildings, vehicles, trees, etc? If indoors, are there any objects blocking the signal?
    • Power supply: Is there an AC power supply? If no, use the battery. Will adding wireless significantly enhance the power consumption of the application? Is energy harvesting or solar energy possible? Battery size, lifetime, charging requirements, battery replacement intervals, and associated costs are also important considerations.
    • Regulatory issues: FCC licensing is required by some wireless technologies. Most wireless technologies for short-range applications are unlicensed.
    • Size and Space: Is there enough space for wireless circuits? Remember, all wireless devices require antennas. While circuits can fit into millimeter-sized chips, antennas can take up more space.
    • License Fee: Some wireless technologies may require users to join an organization or pay a royalty to use the technology.
    • Security: If security against hacking and other misuse is an issue, encryption and authentication may be needed.
    • Return on Investment: How much does the system cost? Does the return on investment cover your costs?

    Whatever range of radio you need, MOKOSMART can help you go further. For more information, we recommend checking out an overview of the role of iot devices and our guide to choosing an architecture.

    Need practical design support? MOKOSMART’s wireless design experts can customize designs to solve the toughest communication problems. We’re here to help you evaluate these factors and select the ideal solution as per your project needs.

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