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If we picture a more connected world in which sensors will be ubiquitous, we might wonder how these sensors will be connected.

Cellular (e.g. 5G, NB-IoT) is technically wonderfully simple. Each device is equipped with more or less direct internet connectivity without the need for additional infrastructure. There are no single points of failure and no interrelationships between multiple devices at the same site. The downsides are cost, energy consumption, reliance on getting good reception everywhere and the need for a third-party network operator.

Star networks (e.g. Bluetooth, LoRa) sit somewhere in the middle. They do require a designated hub and there is limited bandwidth at each site, but all this is pretty simple to understand and model. Still there could be range issues, but they are more predictable and solvable than with cellular. The cost and energy consumption of these devices tends to be lower.

Finally there’s the newest of the bunch Рmesh networks (e.g. Wirepas, Bluetooth Mesh, Thread). The upside is that inexpensive devices can cover a vast area with the best mitigation against radio range issues. In the case of Wirepas, the energy consumption can be very low indeed across the network. But by the nature of the architecture, the network does become more complex and the usage of the network bandwidth by devices needs to be considered carefully.

Of course technology will move on. Cellular devices will get cheaper and toolchains will be developed to make mesh networks more accessible and easier to manage.

At Symbiotech we believe that mesh has an important role to play. We are only just getting started!

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