How to Choose the Right Wireless Communication Method?

In the age of the Internet of Everything, more and more objects will be connected to the Internet, connecting end-to-end, end-to-cloud. These connections can be implemented using a variety of communication links. In smart connectivity applications, engineers often wonder which is the most appropriate way to connect wirelessly, such as NB-IoT/LoRa/ZigBee/Wi-Fi? Which one can make project development more successful with less? The following are the considerations for choosing how to communicate wirelessly.

First, the transmission basis

  • Distance: The distance from the node to the gateway in masked, open conditions.
  • Rate: How much data is transferred?
  • Real-time: Acceptable response delay?
  • Power consumption: Battery life, energy efficiency, AC may need to be connected.
  • Capacity: The number of networked nodes and devices within a certain range.
  • Environment: Hazardous environments in factories, outdoor environments exposed to weather, noise from electronic devices, or electromagnetic interference.
  • Communication: One-way or two-way communication.

Second, additional functions

  • Upgrade: Whether a remote upgrade is required.
  • Network topology: Star, mesh, or other topology.
  • Security: Do I need encryption or authentication? What are the requirements for data security?
  • Secondary development: Do you need secondary development? Is there a single chip solution?
  • Development platform: Do I need an operating system? What other software is required?

Third, others

Cost: Cost of design, manufacturing, or Internet access services.

Band: License band or license-free band.

Here's a brief description of the difference between NB-IoT/LoRa/ZigBee/Wi-Fi:

  • NB-IoT
  • NB-IoT is an emerging technology in the IoT space that supports cellular data connectivity for low-power devices in the WAN, also known as the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). NB-IoT supports efficient connections for devices with long standby times and high network connectivity requirements. NB-IoT devices have up to 10 years of battery life and provide a very comprehensive range of indoor cellular data connectivity coverage, covering tens of thousands of nodes in a single zone.
  • LoRa
  • LoRa (Long Range) is an amplified modulation technology developed by Semtech, typically operating at 915MHz in the United States, 868MHz in Europe and 433/470MHz in Asia. The typical range is 2km to 5km and the maximum distance is up to 15km, depending on the location and antenna characteristics.
  • ZigBee
  • ZigBee is one of the ideal choices for the Internet of Things. ZigBee is a wireless connection that operates at 2.4GHz (globally popular), 868MHz (European popular) and 915 MHz (U.S. popular) bands with transmission rates of up to 250kbit/s, 20kbit/s and 40kbit/s, respectively, with transmission distances linked to power consumption, and high power modules up to a few kilometers or more. ZigBee technology is a close-up, low complexity, low power consumption, low rate, low-cost two-way wireless communication technology.
  • Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi is widely used in many IoT applications, most commonly as a link from gateways to routers connected to the Internet. However, it is also used to require major wireless links at high and medium distances. Most Wi-Fi versions operate in the 2.4GHz license-free band and have a transmission distance of up to 100 meters, depending on the application environment. The popular 802.11n can reach speeds of up to 300Mb/s, while the updated 802.11ac, which operates in the 5GHz ISM band, can even exceed 1.3Gb/s.
  • In terms of transmission distance
  • NB-IoT>LoRa>ZigBee>WIFI
  • Power consumption
  • WIFI > LoRa≈ ZigBee ≈ NB-IoT, the latter three powered only by battery
  • In terms of transfer rate
  • WIFI>ZigBee>LoRa>NB-IoT

For now, the advantages of WIFI are that it can transmit audio, video, and has reached thousands of households, ZigBee has the advantage of low power consumption and ease of networking, LoRa has the advantage of long communication distances and low power consumption, and NB-IoT has the advantage of using carrier networks without the need to deploy gateways, low power consumption and no distance limitations. However, these three technologies, all have their own advantages, but also have their own shortcomings, no technology can fully meet the full requirements of the Internet of Things, in different industries have a wide range of applications, can be said to be each.

Common questions:

Q1. The zigbee module WLT2408NZ on Forlinx embedded FCU1101 products is Xiaonet, and modules other than our gateway cannot guarantee that they are all Xiaonet brands, and Xiaonet cannot communicate. How do I make it easier for users to use? There are two options:


  • a, Let the user replace the Zigbee module of other modules or nodes with xiaonet, but many times the user can’t do that, then see solution b.
  • b, Users can communicate with other modules of the module, according to the line order of the Xiaonet module to do their own module installed in our FCU1101, replace the Xiaonet module on the line. No need to write drive for serial port. Users can follow the serial instruction manual of their module to write the application, do not use our zigbee test program.

Q2. Lora module, is it possible to communicate with the same frequency of each manufacturer?

A: No, the specific protocol details are different for each module, and even the generic lorawan protocol does not guarantee that the protocol details are the same. There is little possibility of modules being interoperability between different manufacturers.

Q3. How many nodes can Lora and Zigbee connect?

A: Here is no limit to the number of Lora broadcast modes (one-way communication), and polling mode (two-way communication) can only communicate with one node at a time, there is no limit to the number;

Q4. Lora defaults to model:

A: E32-TTL-100 (433T20DC) 20dBm (default), for higher power is E32-TTL-1W (433T30D) 30dBm. High power, transmission distance is older. Taigu is compatible with E22

Q5. When to use LoRa and when to use zigbee?

A: You can consider the distance, amount of data, and cost of communication.

Distance: The communication distance between zigbee modules is about a few hundred meters, while LoRa is a few kilometers. Although zigbee can extend the distance from the end to the gateway through network jumps, increasing the intermediate node also results in increased costs.

Data volume: LoRa traffic is several hundred bytes at a time, while zigbee is several hundred K bytes.

Zigbee Networking Mode
Lora Networking Mode

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