At Pycom we strive to enable as many developers, enterprise customers and education far and wide to build things that will work in any situation. This is why we offer a combination of no less than five networks for you to choose from when building your next project. The networks we offer are WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox and LTE CAT M1 / NB1. Below is an in-depth breakdown of what these networks can offer.
WiFi is the worlds most used wireless local area networking technology. Over half of internet users connect via WiFi, while there are more WiFi enabled devices than there are humans. It’s a great solution for all manner of IoT projects, from large scale implementation to hobbyist home applications.
Find out more at www.wi-fi.org
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz) from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks (PANs).
Along with WiFi, Bluetooth is one of the most used wireless data exchange technologies in the world and is nowadays an expected feature of handheld devices.
Find out more at www.bluetooth.com
WiFi / Bluetooth Use Case
WiFi and Bluetooth are great network choices if your project involves connected homes, workplaces or other close proximity areas. While Bluetooth is excellent for exchanging data over short distances, such as a few rooms away, WiFi can hit further afield up to a few kilometres.
For one example, such as connecting your smartphone to a temperature control in your house, Bluetooth would be great in this situation as it can connect directly between devices without the need for a hotspot. On the other hand, if you wanted to operate throughout a large complex, WiFi might be the better option as is can operate through one or more access points to create a wider network.
LoRa is a Low Power Wide Area Network, a great network to use for your IoT projects. It has gateways far and wide and the LoRa Alliance, who created and maintain the network, has thriving community of enthusiasts. LoRa is used by lots of platforms including but not limited to ThingsConnected and The Things Network. LoRa uses license-free sub Gigahertz radio frequency bands like 169 MHz, 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (North America).
Find out more at www.lora-alliance.org
Sigfox employs a proprietary technology that enables communication using the Industrial, Scientific and Medical ISM radio band which uses 868MHz in Europe and 902MHz in the US. It utilises a wide-reaching signal that passes freely through solid objects, called “ultra narrowband” and requires little energy, being termed “Low-power Wide-area network (LPWAN)”. The network is based on one-hop star topology and requires a mobile operator to carry the generated traffic. The signal can also be used to easily cover large areas and to reach underground objects.
Find out more at www.sigfox.com
LPWAN Use Case
LoRa and Sigfox are great for connecting long distance between multiple devices that require a more conservative use of their power reserves. The low bit-rate transfer over LoRa and Sigfox uses less power and means battery life can be considerably longer.
An example use case might be air quality sensors distributed across a city. Data can be transmitted at hourly intervals in small packages without the need for a constant stream. In the case of a large town or city where a hundred plus devices might be necessary, making sure the devices can last long periods of time without the need of a battery change is of high importance. LoRa and Sigfox would be great networks to use in this example.
LTE CAT M1 / NB1
Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals, based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPAtechnologies. It increases the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements.
Find out more at www.3gpp.org
LTE Use Case
The benefit of LTE, commonly known as “Cellular” is that it can used for streaming large packets of data such as video, audio or both. One use case example might be to stream acceleration data from a fleet of cyclist delivery couriers operating within an urban area. It might be that safety is important to the cyclist courier company, so they wish to monitor the speed of their cyclists. For this situation LTE would be a better choice over LPWAN or local area technologies such as WiFi or Bluetooth. LPWAN operates at a low bit rate, meaning it wouldn’t be ideal for constant data streaming, while WiFi or Bluetooth cover too short a distance to be able to track cyclists across an urban landscape.
If you’re not sure what network(s) you need, there’s no need to worry! Our next generation FiPy development board is not only one of the highest spec out there, but boasts all five of our featured networks on one tiny board.
With the FiPy you no longer need to decide your network of choice too early on in your project, you can prototype while testing various networks and still not be tied down to a single one. The FiPy allows real-time network switching so that in reality, you never have to choose.