Wireless Network Types

There are wireless networks using licensed radio frequencies and unlicensed radio frequencies. There are wireless technologies such as Zigbee, EnOcean, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, RFID, Insteon, Bluetooth, etc. The following is a snapshot of some of the major technologies:


Zigbee is a wireless technology standard (IEEE 802.15.4) which provides for low data rate networks. It uses unlicensed frequencies (900 MHz in the US, 868 MHz in Europe, and 2.4 GHz worldwide) which are also available for cordless phones Wi-Fi, and other devices. The standard is aimed to address residential, building, and industrial control devices. It is specifically useful for sensors and control devices of building automation systems within a smart building where very small amounts of information or data are being transmitted. Zigbee also has uses in home automation, industrial automation, home entertainment systems, and smart meters.

The maximum speed of Zigbee devices varies up to 192-250 Kbps (a measure of bandwidth, kilobits per second). The maximum distance varies between 20 and 50 meters. Zigbee has several advantages: (a) low power usage since the devices only require two AAA batteries, (b) wide support from more than 100 companies that support the standard (Motorola, Honeywell, Samsung, Mitsubishi, and others), (c) mesh technology which allows Zigbee, like Wi-Fi, to be configured in several topologies including a mesh topology allowing multiple transmission paths between the device and the recipient, and (d) system scalability where thousands of Zigbee devices can deployed within a building.

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