Title: Emerging Low-Power Wireless IoT Standards: Challenges and Trends


Danielle Griffith, Texas Instruments, USA


Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) was introduced by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group in 2010 as a lower power alternative to Classic Bluetooth. BLE is familiar to many and is widely used in Internet of Things applications that require low power, low data-rate wireless connectivity in the 2.4GHz unlicensed band. However, the range of BLE is insufficient for low power wide area networks (LPWAN). To achieve longer range, standards in the sub-1GHz frequency bands are used, such as IEEE802.15.4g/Zigbee, which are capable of a range in the tens of kilometers with a small form factor battery. However, these are not the only protocols used for IoT applications. The standard landscape is changing rapidly, with multiple new standards currently in development. This tutorial will give an overview and comparison of both well-established standards, such as Classic Bluetooth, BLE, WLAN, and IEEE802.15.4g and emerging standards, including IEEE802.11ah (HaLow), the cellular-based IoT standards NB IoT, LTE Cat M1, proprietary standards such as Sigfox, LoRa and Weightless, and the new features in Bluetooth 5.

For both application developers and silicon vendors, the growing number of standards poses a significant challenge. Application developers must understand each protocol to be able to choose the best fit for a particular application, and also future-proof the implementation such that it does not quickly become obsolete as the standards continue to evolve. Silicon vendors are unlikely to have the resources to compete in every market, and therefore must choose which standards they believe will gain the most customer acceptance and therefore market share. The silicon vendor that can design the fewest devices that can support the widest range of standards will have an obvious competitive advantage. This tutorial will discuss the challenges posed by creating flexible SoCs that support multiple standards. At the end of the tutorial, attendees will have a solid overview of the IoT low power wireless standard landscape and the design challenges involved.