Learn about Short Range networks within the realm of IoT. The article covers Internet of Things solutions your business might employ to develop an Iot device.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a game-changer, revolutionizing our daily lives and pushing the boundaries of convenience and connectivity. As we've explored in our previous discussion, IoT's key features like self-sufficiency, long-range data transmission, and blazing-fast data rates have set the stage for a world where devices and networks seamlessly interact.

In our previous article, we dove headfirst into the heart of IoT, focusing on the Internet of Things technologies and protocols. But now, it's time to explore a different dimension of this technological marvel as we venture into the world of Short Range networks. Read on to find your perfect Internet of Things solution.

Short Range Networks

Short-range networks are designed for communication over shorter distances, typically within a few meters or up to a few hundred meters. These technologies and protocols facilitate proximity communication between IoT devices and gateways or other nearby devices. Short-range connectivity is ideal for IoT applications where devices need to interact with each other within a confined area or in close proximity to each other. Let's explore some of the prominent short-range IoT protocols:

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE):

Bluetooth Low Energy, also known as Bluetooth Smart, is a widely adopted short-range wireless communication protocol that operates in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz ISM band. BLE is optimized for low power consumption, making it suitable for battery-powered IoT devices. It is commonly used in applications such as wearable devices, smart home automation, and beacon technology for indoor positioning and navigation.


  • BLE is natively supported by most modern smartphones, tablets, and computers. This enables seamless communication between devices without the need for additional hardware or drivers.
  • Many IoT devices require periodic data transmission rather than constant communication. BLE excels in scenarios where data needs to be transmitted at specific intervals or in response to events. Devices can wake up, establish a connection, transmit data, and then disconnect efficiently, conserving energy when not actively communicating.
  • BLE has introduced mesh networking, enabling devices to create self-healing and scalable networks. This is useful for applications requiring multiple devices to communicate with each other in a larger area.
  • Compared to other low-power data transmission technologies, BLE consumes significantly less electrical power.
  • To access specifications for most other protocols, one must become a member of the official group or consortium responsible for that standard. Membership often comes at a substantial cost, ranging from $7,500 to $35,000 per year. In the case of BLE, specifications for major versions (4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 5) are available for download from the Bluetooth website at absolutely no cost.


  • BLE was designed for short-range applications, and therefore its operational range is limited.
  • The throughput of BLE is constrained by the physical channel's capacity, which refers to the speed at which data is transmitted over the radio channel. Throughput depends on the Bluetooth version used. For Bluetooth 4.2 and earlier, only a 1 Mbps throughput is available. In Bluetooth 5 and subsequent versions, the throughput varies based on the selected PHY (Physical Layer) mode (discussed in the physical layer section). It can be 1 Mbps, as in earlier versions, or 2 Mbps when utilizing high-speed transmission modes.
  • To transmit data from a device that supports only a BLE connection, another device with both BLE and IP connectivity support is required. This secondary device will receive the data and send it to the internet.
  • While BLE is widely supported in modern devices, there are still compatibility issues with older devices or non-standard implementations.
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Zigbee is a short-range, low-power wireless protocol designed for IoT applications that require mesh networking capabilities. Operating in the 2.4 GHz and sub-GHz ISM bands, Zigbee enables devices to form self-organizing, self-healing mesh networks, enhancing overall network reliability and coverage. It is commonly used in home automation, smart lighting, and industrial monitoring applications.


  • Zigbee devices are designed to operate with low duty cycles, meaning they spend most of their time in a low-power sleep mode and wake up periodically to transmit or receive data. This sleep-wake cycle conserves energy and extends the overall battery life of devices.
  • Zigbee's short-range communication (typically up to 10-100 meters) is well-suited for applications where devices are located in close proximity to each other.
  • Zigbee supports mesh networking, allowing devices to relay data through other devices, enhancing coverage and range.
  • Zigbee operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band but employs frequency-hopping spread spectrum to mitigate interference from other devices operating in the same band.
  • Zigbee's relatively simple hardware requirements and widespread adoption contribute to cost-effective integration in devices.
  • Zigbee is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, providing a common framework for manufacturers and ensuring interoperability between devices from different vendors.


  • Zigbee operates with relatively low data rates, typically ranging from 20 to 250 kbps. This is intentional, as Zigbee's design prioritizes energy efficiency and long battery life over high-speed data transfer. While this is sufficient for many IoT applications like sensor data collection, control commands, and monitoring, it might pose limitations for applications requiring rapid data transmission, video streaming, or large file transfers.
  • While Zigbee offers a standardized protocol for interoperability, some vendors implement their own proprietary extensions on top of the standard. While these extensions might enhance certain features, they can lead to compatibility issues between devices from different manufacturers. Interoperability challenges might arise if devices with proprietary extensions cannot communicate seamlessly with devices adhering strictly to the standard. This can hinder the seamless integration of devices from different vendors within a Zigbee network.
  • Zigbee is optimized for short-range communication, and its design reflects this focus. While this is advantageous for applications within a confined space, it might not be the best fit for applications that span larger distances or require communication between devices situated far apart.


Thread is an IP-based short-range wireless protocol designed for smart home applications and IoT devices. It operates in the 2.4 GHz ISM band and is built on open standards, promoting interoperability between devices. Thread offers low power consumption and secure communication, making it suitable for home automation and smart energy management.


  • Thread establishes a mesh network, where devices such as light bulbs, thermostats, sockets, sensors, and others can communicate directly with each other without the constraints of centralized bridges or hubs. This is possible because Thread eliminates the need for bridges or hubs. In the event that a device becomes non-functional, data packets are simply rerouted to another device within the network. This self-healing capability ensures the robustness and resilience of the network, allowing for seamless communication even in the presence of device failures.
  • Thread is built on IPv6, which allows direct communication with other IP devices on the same network. This simplifies integration with existing IP networks and the broader internet.
  • Thread's architecture and duty-cycling mechanisms optimize power usage, making it suitable for battery-operated devices that require extended battery life.
  • Thread networks can handle a large number of devices, accommodating the increasing complexity of modern smart homes.
  • Thread interoperable with other IP-based protocols.


  • Thread operates within the 2.4 GHz frequency band, which is a standard frequency range for various wireless communication technologies. However, this frequency band is susceptible to interference from other wireless devices operating in the same spectrum, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and microwave ovens. Additionally, higher frequencies like 2.4 GHz are generally associated with shorter effective ranges and potential signal attenuation due to obstacles. This means that Thread's range might be limited compared to some other IoT protocols that operate in lower frequency bands, especially in scenarios with significant physical barriers.
  • Thread is a relatively newer protocol compared to more established options in the IoT landscape. While Thread has gained traction and support from industry players, its youthfulness might mean that there are fewer compatible devices available on the market compared to more mature protocols. This could limit options for users looking to build diverse IoT ecosystems or for specific use cases requiring a broad range of device types.
  • Thread is designed with a primary emphasis on low-power networking, making it well-suited for applications like home automation and smart home control. However, this low-power focus might impose limitations on its suitability for data-intensive scenarios.

In closing,

short-range IoT communication protocols play a pivotal role in enabling wireless data exchange within limited distances. These protocols offer distinct advantages such as energy efficiency, rapid connection setup, and low data rates, making them a compelling choice for applications that prioritize battery longevity and intermittent data transfer. However, their inherent range limitations confine their utility to localized environments. While Zigbee and Thread underscore mesh networking for network resilience, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) emphasizes swift connections and minimal energy consumption.

As IoT continues to grow, these technologies and protocols guide us. With their help, industries innovate, communities connect, and individuals experience a world of possibilities. The IoT is our canvas, and the presented Internet of Things technologies and protocols paint the picture, turning everyday life into an extraordinary masterpiece of interconnectivity.