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Connectivity

Connectivity options for Blebricks

Once you have assembled your desired Blebricks with the BLE-B, you can view their data and interact with them locally via our MakeApp for Android devices or you can connect them to the Internet (IoT) and interact with your devices remotely via our Bricksboard.

There are many possible connection options as outlined below:

Using Blebricks with a local connection

As you already know, the BLE-B communicates via Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) technology:
– version 4.2 with a transmission capacity of up to 30 meters in the air
– version 5.X (optional) with transmission capacity up to 600 meters in the air
Compared to the previous BLE version v4.2, BLE v5.X introduces several advantages.

Using our MakeApp you can interact with your smartphone in a simple and immediate way with your devices!

Read our article for more details.

Use with remote connection through the Internet (IoT)

You can interact and monitor Blebricks wherever you are thanks to the Bricksboard portal. To make your devices communicate through the Internet, just choose the connection mode and add the Blebrick needed for the preferred remote communication. Alternatively, you can use our Gateways.

1. WiFi and Ethernet

To connect your bricks to the network via WiFi, all you need to do is connect the Blebrick ESP together with the other Blebricks and configure it easily using Smartconfig technology. If you also add the Blebrick ETP you can also connect your devices through Ethernet and power them via POE.

2. LP-WAN

Blebricks can also be connected to the network using the main LP-WAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) technologies. To choose the most suitable technology for your application, read our article “LP-WAN, which one to choose?“.  The Blebricks available for LP-WAN connections are the following:

  • the SFX Blebrick connects Blebricks to the Internet through the Sigfox network (check the network coverage by clicking here) with the lowest cost, consumption and data-rate
  • The GBT Blebrick connects Blebricks to the Internet through Narrow Band – IoT (4G) technology providing wider and deeper network coverage with higher two-way data rates (coming soon)
  • The LRW Blebrick connects Blebricks to the Internet via LoRa (WAN) technology providing local area network coverage (coming soon)

3. GATEWAY

To connect multiple devices remotely through the Internet you can also create local star networks and then use our Gateways that are of two types

  • Physical Gateway: dedicated device, available in Wi-Fi version (GW-ESP) and Wi-Fi + Ethernet + PoE (Power over Ethernet) (GW-ESP/ETP)
  • Software Gateway (Bricksdoor): alternatively you can use your Smartphone as a gateway, using our Bricksdoor app that allows you to use any Android device as a gateway.

 

LP-WAN Low Power Wide Area Network, which one to choose?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the interconnection and exchange of data between devices/sensors over the internet. There are tens of billions of devices currently networked destined for a growing number of practical applications including security, asset monitoring, agriculture, smart metering, smart cities, and smart homes.
To meet these applications IoT devices need long range, limited number of data to transmit, low power consumption and low device costs.
Widely used short-range radio technologies (e.g. Bluetooth, Zigbee, WiFi) are not suitable for scenarios that require long-range transmission. On the other hand, cellular communication-based solutions (e.g., 2G, 3G, and 4G) that can provide a greater transmission range often consume too much energy.
Therefore, the requirements of IoT applications have contributed to the emergence of a new wireless communication technology: low power wide area network (LP-WAN).

LP-WAN technologies are characterized by:

  • Long Range, as smart objects are typically mobile and spread across the territory
  • Low Consumption, in this way the battery of the devices lasts for years and problems related to the need to recharge or replace it are avoided
  • Low cost, in order to make IoT projects and activities more affordable and sustainable

Among LP-WAN technologies, Sigfox, LoRa, and NB-IoT are the main emerging technologies of today that involve many technical differences
Currently, there is no technology that is more effective than the others, capable of meeting all requirements simultaneously and equally. Therefore, when choosing, it is essential to have in mind the purpose and context of use.

The following table shows the main differences between the three technologies mentioned.

Analysis of Technologies

There are many factors that should be considered when selecting the most appropriate LPWAN technology for an IoT application, including quality of service, battery life, latency, scalability, payload length, coverage, reach, deployment, and cost. The following chart provides broad criteria for selecting the most appropriate technology based on application needs

Quality of service

Sigfox and LoRa use unlicensed spectra and asynchronous communication protocols that offer undoubted advantages on reducing effects due to interference, multipath and fading. However, they cannot offer the same Quality of Service (QoS) that employs a widespread licensed bandwidth infrastructure and a synchronous LTE-based protocol.

NB-IoT is preferred for applications that prioritize guaranteed quality of service in their selection.

Battery Life

In general, IoT devices only transmit for short periods of time to optimize battery usage. However, NB-IoT-based devices consume more in transmission to handle synchronous communication and better QoS. LoRa technology that operates on Spread Spectrum consumes more than Sigfox devices that operate in Ultra Narrow Band, but, on the other hand, allows to modify the transmission parameters to optimize the consumption (Class A) also in a dynamic way.

From a point of view of consumption are therefore preferred, in order, Sigfox and LoRa Class A

Latency

NB-IoT offers the advantage of low latency. LoRa provides class C to handle even low bidirectional latency at the expense of higher power consumption.

For applications that require low latency, NB-IoT and class-C LoRa are in that order the best choices.

Scalability

NB-IoT offers the advantage of very high scalability compared to Sigfox and LoRa.

NB-IoT allows connectivity up to 100 K end devices per cell compared to 50 K per cell for Sigfox and the hundreds for LoRa.

Payload

NB-IoT allows transmission with payload up to 1600 bytes, LoRa allows to send a maximum of 243 bytes of data and Sigfox proposes 12 bytes for the benefit of lower costs and power consumption.

For applications that need to send large data, the choice falls on NB-IoT and then on LoRa.

Range

If we consider the number of antennas to be used to cover a given area, i.e. the range, Sigfox technology offers the best solution as an entire city can be covered by a single base station (i.e., range >40 km). LoRa has a lower range (i.e., range <20 km) and NB-IoT has the lowest range and coverage capabilities (i.e., range <10 km).

Thus, for range, Sigfox, Lora, and NB-IoT are to be preferred in order.

Network coverage

From the point of view of the user who would like to see his or her device work anywhere on the territory without having to deploy additional gateways, and thus of infrastructure coverage, things change due to the spread of existing networks.

Particularly in cities, NB-IoT (4G) coverage is, at least in Italy, widespread as well as high coverage of Sigfox, while to activate a Lora device it is very often necessary to activate local gateways.

So the infrastructural coverage, understood as the possibility to use the device without the use of additional gateways, are preferred in order NB-IoT, Sigfox and LoRa

Local networks

For this type of application LoRa is the only alternative.

Device costs

If we analyze only the costs for the end user, by virtue of the increasing complexity of the technology used and royalties to be paid by device manufacturers for the use of chips or networks with proprietary technologies (in the case of LoRa), the least expensive technology is that of Sigfox, followed by LoRa and finally, well detached, by NB-IoT

 Cost of network service

LoRa has no network operator costs and therefore represents the zero-cost and preferable solution from this point of view. Sigfox follows, with a cost of using network services per device of less than 1 Euro/month and NB-IoT with costs related to the type of subscription and generally between 1 and 3 Euro/month.

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