Advantages of 6LoWPAN | disadvantages of 6LoWPAN

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of 6LoWPAN network. It mentions benefits or advantages of 6LoWPAN and drawbacks or disadvantages of 6LoWPAN.

What is 6LoWPAN ?

The term "6LoWPAN" stands for IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks. This is open standard defined in RFC6282 by IETF. It allows IPv6 packets to be passed to/from 6LoWPAN network. It is used with IEEE 802.15.4 in 2.4 GHz band. In addition it supports other networking media such as sub-1 GHz low power RF, PLC, Bluetooth smart, low power wifi.

6LoWPAN mesh network

The figure-1 depicts 6LoWPAN mesh network. As shown edge router is needed to interface IPv6 network with 6LoWPAN network. Edge router has three major functions viz. data exchange between 6LoWPAN devices and internet (or IPv6 network), local data exchange between devices in the same 6LoWPAN network, generation and maintenance of radio subnet of 6LoWPAN network. The 6LoWPAN is connected with other IP networks through links such as Ethernet, WiFi, 3G or 4G.

OSI stack vs 6LoWPAN stack

Figure-2 depicts protocol layers of OSI stack and 6LoWPAN stack. As shown it consists of Physical layer, Data link layer (MAC/adaptation), network layer, transport layer and application layer. Physical layer converts data bits into signals which are transmitted and received over the air. The data link layer provides reliable link between two connected nodes by detecting/correcting errors occured during transmission/reception. The data link layer includes CSMA/CA MAC functionality and handles data framing. 6LoWPAN adaptation layer takes care of adaptation from IPv6 to IEEE 802.15.4. The network layer addresses and routes data through the network. The transport layer generates communication sessions between applications. TCP/UDP protocols are used at transport layer. Application layer is responsible for data formatting. HTTP over TCP, CoAP/MQTT are used at this layer.

Following are the features of 6LoWPAN network.
• Frequency : 2.4 GHz
• Outdoor range : ~ 200 meters (Maximum)
• Data rate : 200 Kbps (Maximum)
• Max. nodes : ~ 100

Benefits or advantages of 6LoWPAN

Following are the benefits or advantages of 6LoWPAN:
➨6LoWPAN is a mesh network which is robust, scalable and self healing.
➨It offers long range of communication which detects signals below noise level.
➨It consumes less power as it uses reduced transmission time (using short time pulses). Hence this saves energy and consecutively battery can be used for very long duration.
➨It offers large network which can be used by millions of devices.
➨It delivers low cost and secure communication in IoT devices.
➨It offers one to many and many to one routing. Hence transparent internet integration is possible.
➨It uses IPv6 protocol and hence can be routed directly to cloud platforms.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of 6LoWPAN

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of 6LoWPAN:
➨It is less secure than zigbee.
➨It has less immunity to interference than wifi or bluetooth devices.
➨It supports short range without mesh topology.

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