Comparison of Sub-GHz Wireless Protocols

By: Lela Terashvili, 21 Aug 2023
4   min read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Wireless communication has grown rapidly over the last 20 years and is now widely used in many areas. The emergence of IoT has led to the development of Sub-GHz, a wireless communication standard. The purpose of this Sub-GHz wireless protocols comparison article is to give insight into some of them. Additionally, we would like to highlight our hardware engineering and design services, which have garnered significant popularity among our clients.

Key Takeaways About Sub-GHz Frequencies

Sub-GHz protocols have several advantages over other protocols on the market, such as:

  • Operates over a longer distance (up to tens of kilometers, as opposed to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which are limited to 300-500m).
  • More power efficient.
  • Data rates are far lower than 2.4 GHz.

Examples and Comparisons  of Protocols That Use Sub-GHz Frequencies

SigFox 

This is a cellular-style system. It uses ultra-narrow band technology (200 Hz), so the transmitter requires very little power to maintain a robust connection over long distances (30-50 km) while the data rate is a maximum of 140 messages per day per device, with up to 12 bytes payload (~100 bps).

LoRa (Long Range) 

This is a type of modulation that enables long range communication (10s of kilometers) with low power consumption. It uses a wide bandwidth (7.8 kHz-500 kHz) and provides up to 37.5 kbps data rate.

IEEE 802.11ah (Wi-Fi HaLow) 

This is a member of the standard Wi-Fi family. It is based on IEEE 802.11ac, but uses a  sub-GHz band and a narrower bandwidth (1/2/4/8/16MHz). 

Z-Wave 

This is another communication protocol used mainly for home automation. It uses a mesh network architecture with up to 232 nodes in a network. The data rate is about 100 kbps and the range is about 30m.

802.15.4 PHY/MAC 

This is the foundation for many protocol stacks (ZigBee, WirelessHART). Either band could be employed (data rates for sub-GHz 20-40 kbps vs 250 kbps with 2.4 GHz), the communication range is about 10 meters.

Zigbee

This is a low-power wireless communication protocol that can work in both 2.4 GHz and sub-GHz frequencies and is utilized for IoT applications. It has a 300-1000m open range and a decent data rate.

Wireless M-Bus

This protocol has low consumption and operates in the sub-GHz frequency range, commonly in the 868 MHz band in Europe, and the 915 MHz band in North America. Sub-GHz frequencies are less congested than 2.4 GHz frequencies. 

Thread

The Thread protocol should be mentioned in our article about how sub-GHz wireless protocols differ. The protocol employs a mesh networking topology, allowing devices to be connected with one another and therefore extend the network’s range.

Comparison Table

Here you may examine the differences between sub-GHz wireless protocols:

Protocol Name Bandwidth Range Transfer Rate Application Area Advantages Disadvantages
Sigfox 100 Hz Up to 40 km 100 bps IoT, smart cities, asset tracking Low power, long range, low cost Low data rate, limited bandwidth, low capacity
LoRa Up to 500 kHz Up to 10 km Up to 50 Kbps IoT, smart cities, agriculture, logistics Long range, low power, low cost, scalable Limited bandwidth, interference with other radio signals
IEEE 802.11ah (Wi-Fi HaLow) 1-16 MHz Up to 1 km Up to 347 Mbps IoT, smart homes, healthcare, agriculture High data rate, long range, low power Limited range compared to other protocols, interference with other Wi-Fi signals
Z-Wave 900 MHz Up to 100 m Up to 100 Kbps Home automation, smart homes Low power, low interference, secure Limited range, limited interoperability with other protocols
802.15.4 PHY/MAC 2.4 GHz, 868/915 MHz Up to 100 m Up to 250 Kbps IoT, industrial automation, smart homes Low power, low cost, flexible Limited range, limited bandwidth, interference with other radio signals
Zigbee 2.4 GHz Up to 100 m Up to 250 Kbps Smart homes, home automation, lighting Low power, low cost, secure Limited range, limited interoperability with other protocols
Wireless M-Bus 868/ 433 MHz Up to 1 km Up to 32 Kbps Metering, smart cities, remote monitoring Long range, low power, secure Limited bandwidth, limited range compared to other protocols
Thread 2.4 GHz Up to 100 m Up to 250 Kbps Smart homes, home automation, lighting Secure, low power, scalable Limited range, limited interoperability with other protocols

How Sirin Software Can Help

If you have been seeking a way to compare protocols that use sub-GHz frequencies, this article will surely have come in handy. Sirin Software additionally recommends that you only rely on professionals who can give you professional advice on your project. We can guarantee that with Sirin Software’s services, you should be sure that your device is developed to the highest standard, with keen attention to detail and a focus on efficiency and functionality. This results in devices that are not only reliable and user-friendly, but also innovative and cutting-edge, providing a competitive edge in the market.

Conclusion

We compared sub-GHz wireless protocols in this article. As was shown above, when developing an IoT solution that requires either long distance operation and/or autonomous power supply, one should also consider sub-GHz protocols as they are designed for long distance, low power, and low data rates communication. Be sure to visit our wireless solutions development page for a more in-depth exploration of this subject.

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