The Connectivity Technologies that are powering the Internet of Things (IoT)

Date: October 25, 2019

Author: Ipshita Biswas

Connectivity is one of the chief units of an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, along with sensors/device, data processing & user interface. For a device to step into the realm of the Internet of Things, it must be able to communicate with other devices. Different applications demand different sets of properties of connectivity, and fortunately, there’s an overwhelming number of options (with the availability of multiple providers for each) and the count is still on the rise. The connecting technologies differ in their trade-offs among power consumption, range, bandwidth, security and cost.

At the very top level, connectivity technologies can be categorized into – Wired and Wireless.

Wired Connectivity – Wireless sure rules the world of IoT, but definitely hasn’t yet ruled out certain wired connectivity technologies. Ethernet is one such example. Since 1990, Ethernet became the most popular technology for connecting computers in a LAN and is still going strong. USB and HDMI Cables are two other widely-used wired technologies. HDMI is a technology standard designed to transmit high-definition audio and video signals.

Some of the common characteristics of a wired communication are:

  • Low power consumption
  • Higher bandwidth
  • Higher security
  • Less affected by the ambient conditions
  • More expensive
  • More cost of damage repairs

Wireless Connectivity – The need to be able to communicate wireless is the basis for the Internet of Things. And thus, innovations in wireless technologies are on the rise.

Cellular & Satellite:

  • Higher range
  • Higher bandwidth
  • Higher reliability & longevity
  • Higher power consumption

Used in – Applications where the sensor/actuator/device is within the reach of the cell towers, cellular connectivity can be used. Satellite’s remarkable range enables it to cover applications in remote areas where cellular or Wi-Fi isn’t an option.

Wi-Fi, BLE, UWB, RFID, Zigbee, NFC:

  • Higher bandwidth
  • Lower power consumption
  • Lower range

Used inAsset Tracking in Yard, Manufacturing units, Warehouses (or any confined area) where the demand for location accuracy calls for a connectivity technology with a higher bandwidth. Smart Home Applications. Most of the Medical Devices Applications.

LPWAN: LoRaWAN, SigFox, Symphone Link, Weightless:

  • Higher range
    Provides better coverage than traditional technologies (>10dB)
  • Lower power consumption
    Gives a long battery life, usually lasting years.
  • Lower bandwidth
  • Supports a vast number of devices
  • Lower costs of devices as well as deployments

Used in – Smart Parking Systems, Industrial applications that demand industry-graded battery lives.

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