Part 4 : A walk through Internet of Things (IoT) basics.

Topics covered :

  • IoT – Network Protocols
  • IoT Network Architecture


To understand IoT Networks let’s have a look into this picture.

IoT Network
IoT Network

In IoT network some of the technologies that rules are :

WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) which include networks like Zigbee, Bluetooth, 6LowPAN etc.

On a slightly larger wireless network area scale, WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) which includes Wi-Fi is to be used.

On a larger scale, the mobile communication technologies like 2G, 3G,4G, LTE remains. Smartphones and mobile communication system will be used and they will connect to the base stations and base stations will provide connectivity to the Wide Area Network (WAN) which is the Internet.

Considering this, we can think of many other options –

Smartphones are equipped with bluetooth and wi-fi, therefore we can think of an IoT network. The most common topology control is the WPAN which is bluetooth or NFC(Near Feild Communication). The WPAN are connected to a smartphone and the smartphone can bring the signal up through 3G,4G,LTE through the base station and the base station will connect that to the WAN.

Therefore we get a technology linking on another technology.

Wearable IoT Networks :

This is a technology where the above explanation is brought to reality.

  • Wearable devices (e.g., shoes,watch, glasses, belt, etc.) can be used to detect biometric information.
  • Smart device collects the information and communicates with control center and/or medical server through the Internet.
Wearable IoT Networks
Wearable IoT Networks

Wi-Fi :

  • Wi-Fi is a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) technology based on the IEEE 802.11 standards.
  • Wi-Fi Devices :
  • Smartphones, Smart Devices, Laptop Computers, PC, etc.
  • Applications Areas :
  • Home, School, Computer Laboratory, Office Building, etc.
  • Wi-Fi devices and APs (Access Points) have a wireless communication range of about 30 meters indoors.
  • Wi-Fi data rate is based on its protocol type :
  • IEEE 802.11a can achieve up to 54 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11b can achieve up to 11 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11g can achieve up to 54 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11n can achieve up to 150 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11ac can achieve up to 866.7 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11ad can achieve up to 7 Gbps
Wi-Fi IoT Networks.
Wi-Fi IoT Networks.

Bluetooth :

  • Bluetooth is a WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) protocol designed by the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group)
  • Replaces cables connecting many different types of devices
  • Mobile Phones & Headsets
  • Heart Monitors & Medical Equipment
  • Bluetooth’s standard PAN range is usually 10 meters (50 m in Bluetooth 4.0)
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (in Bluetooth 4.0) provides reduced power consumption and cost while maintaining a similar communication range.
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR can achieve up to 2.1 Mbps
  • Bluetooth 3.0 + HS can achieve up to 24 Mbps
  • Bluetooth 4.0 can achieve up to 25 Mbps
Bluetooth IoT Network
Bluetooth IoT Network

IEEE 802.15.4 Standard :

  • Low-cost, low-speed, low-power WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) protocol.
  • IEEE 802.15.4 applications
  • ZigBee, 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks), WirelessHART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer), RF4CE (Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics), MiWi (Microchip Wireless Protocol), and ISA100.11a
IEEE 802.15.4 and Zigbee layer in OSI Model.
IEEE 802.15.4 and Zigbee layer in OSI Model.

ZigBee :

  • Supported by the ZigBee Alliance
  • Provides IEEE 802.15.4 higher layer protocols required for low powered radio system.
  • IEEE 802.15.4 defines the physical and MAC layers.
  • ZigBee provides the application and network layer protocols.
  • ZigBee works well in isolated network environments.
Zigbee Network
Zigbee Network

Zigbee network is made up of Coordinator (C) which is required to establish a network connection. ‘C’ establishes PAN, router (R) which provide the network connection to the end devices and End Device (E) which are the IoT devices connected to the network.

6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks) :

  • Supports IPv6 packets over IEEE 802.15.4 WPANs
  • Enables IPv6 IoT wireless network support
  • Low power design aspect included.
  • Good for battery operated IoT devices
  • 6LoWPAN is an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard that uses the IEEE 802.15.4 WPAN technology.

In the 6LoWPAN node, Bluetooth Smart devices can connect to the internet over Bluetooth Smart using a border router. The border router acts as a device that is connected to the internet and provides access for the nodes to the internet.

Z- Wave :

The Z-Wave protocol is an interoperable, wireless,  RF-based communications technology designed specifically for control, monitoring and status reading applications in residential and light commercial environments.

  • Low Powered RF communications technology that supports full mesh networks without the need for a coordinator node.
  • Operates in the sub-1GHz band; impervious to interference from Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies in the 2.4-GHz range (Bluetooth, ZigBee, etc.).
  • Designed specifically for control and status apps, supports data rates of up to 100kbps, with AES128 encryption, IPV6, and multi-channel operation.
Z - wave applications.
Z – wave applications.


  • Data networking protocol.
  • Incorporated under the architecture of TCP/IP protocol.
  • UDP is robust and that is why TCP/IP has mainly standardized UDP for real-time data transfer.
IoT Network Layers of OSI model
IoT Network Layers of OSI model

In the diagram below, we get a clear differentiation of IP Suite and IP Smart Object (IoT) suite.



Autonomous Network Architecture :

  • Autonomous networks are not connected to the public networks. However, it does not mean that the Internet access is forbidden. It is possible via gateway if required.
  • While designing autonomous networks, though not mandatory, IP protocol suite is still commonly adopted sue to its scalability and flexibility.
  • The large address capacity provided by IPv6 is required in most cases.

Example : Autonomous information collected by the parking sensor due to the occupancy of parking slots in a wireless manner and sent to the control center.

Autonomous Network Architecture
Autonomous Network Architecture

Ubiquitous Network Architecture :

  • Smart objects or ‘things’ network are a part of the Internet.
  • Through the Internet gateway, authorized users will have access to the information provided by smart objects networks either directly fetching from the device or by means of intermediate servers.
  • The servers acts as a sink to collect data from each objects.
  • Features :
  • Multitier – The network architecture is hierarchical, comprising both multi-access networks and wireless multi-hop networks.
  • Multiradio – It is uncommon nowadays to have a number of radio access technologies available to connect to the Internet, either covering the same or complimenting geographical areas. These networks could be WLAN, WiMAX, macro-cellular, femto-cellular or even ad-hoc. The synergy and integration of different networks in multi-access and multi-operator environment introduces new opportunities for better communication channels and an enhanced quality of provided applications and services.

Examples : Structural Health Monitoring – monitoring the health of any structures small or big like building, bridges etc. Passive wireless sensors are embedded within a concrete structure which sends radio signals of suitable amplitude and phase characteristics periodically using radio frequencies. The data collected from these sensors are then analyzed to detect anomalies.

Ubiquitous Network Architecture
Ubiquitous Network Architecture

That’s all for this article. Hope this was helpful and you enjoyed reading !!

Thanks for visiting 🙂

Up Next  –  Part 5 : A walk through Internet of Things (IoT) basics.

Stay tuned !!


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