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A Comparison Between Various Wireless Technologies

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Feb 29, 2024
  • RFID
A Comparison between Various Wireless Technologies- UWB, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, BLE, GPS

"Various wireless technologies like UWB, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, BLE, GPS, and LTE technologies differ in terms of data rate and coverage they provide."

In the world of IoT, various wireless technologies have revolutionized how we communicate, navigate, and interact within the digital landscape.

IoT technologies like UWB, BLE, and NFC are unlocking never-before-seen levels of efficiency, convenience, and security in personal and business space, automating access control, remote control of things, asset tracking, and security. These technologies easily integrate with our existing network infrastructure and provide ease of use, flexibility, and scalability at large.

These wireless communication technologies are responsible for capturing and sharing various information. However, these wireless technologies differ significantly in terms of data rate and coverage as we discuss in this blog below.

Various Wireless Communication Technologies 

While the UWB technology enables precise indoor positioning and location tracking and NFC facilitates contactless data exchange and digital payments, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth provide wireless connectivity for internet access, file sharing, and device pairing.

The Wi-Fi technology offers higher data transfer rates over longer distances and Bluetooth excels in short-range communication. The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) extends Bluetooth functionality to power-efficient applications such as wearable devices and IoT sensors while keeping the power consumption in battery-operated IoT devices minimal. 

The GPS (Global Positioning System) technology enables accurate outdoor navigation and location-based services, while cellular networks, including GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and LTE, provide connectivity for voice and data communication over long distances.  

Talking about power consumption and coverage, we also have various LPWANs (Low Power Wide Area Networks) technologies such as LoRa, Sigfox, Zigbee, NB-IoT, LTE-m, etc. that are best suited to offer high data rate, and coverage area while keeping the power consumption at a lower end. Technologies like LoRa and NB-IoT are highly used in remote areas and smart cities, offering high coverage and consistent network performance.

Each of these wireless technologies differs in frequency bands, range, data transfer rates, power consumption, and application scenarios, making them complementary tools in our wireless ecosystem.

A Comparison between Various Wireless Technologies

Let’s see the main technical aspects of various wireless communication technologies like UWB, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, BLE LTE, and various LPWANs to have a better understanding of their data rate and coverage amongst others.

Ultra-wideband (UWB) 

1. Frequency range:  Typically spanning from 3.1 GHz to 10.6 GHz. 

2. Data transfer rates:  Utilizes a large spectrum, typically around 1 Gbps

3. Ranges: High-speed data transfer with a coverage area of 10 meters. 

4. Power consumption: 4.9 mW in standard-compliant operation.

5. Applications: Indoor navigation, asset tracking, and proximity-based services.

NFC (Near Field Communication)

1. Operating frequency: NFC operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz 

2. Data transfer rates: Extended transfer rate of 100 kbps.

3. Data security: Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Data Encryption Standard (DES) 

4. Coverage area: Typically within 0.01m to 0.1m

5. Power consumption: It requires a small amount of energy (<50mW) 

6. Applications: Mobile payments, asset tracking & management, access control.


1. Frequency bands: Operating at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency.

2. Data transfer rates:  High data transfer rate of 100 Mbps 

3. Coverage area:  Between 10 and 100 meters.

4. Power consumption: The average Wi-Fi router uses 6 watts of electricity, but can use between 2 and 20 watts.

5. Encryption protocols: WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) and WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access III).

6. Applications: Internet access, file sharing, creating IoT ecosystem.

A Comparison Between Various Wireless Technologies

Bluetooth and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)

1. Frequency bands: Operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz 

2. Data transfer rates: 1 Mbps of data transfer rate.

3. Coverage area: Between 100 meters to 400 meters.

4. Power consumption: Bluetooth uses one watt of power, while Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) uses between 0.01 and 0.5 watts. 

5. Encryption protocols:  Utilizes 128-bit AES encryption with CBC-MAC authentication.

6. Applications: Mobile payments, smartwatches and wearables, access control, and door entry. 

GPS (Global Positioning System)

1. Frequency range: Fundamental L-band frequency of 10.23 MHz. All GPS satellites broadcast on at least two carrier frequencies: L1, at 1575.42 MHz, and L2, at 1227.6 MHz.

2. Data transfer rates: Signals are broadcast at a rate of 50 bits per second.

3. Ranges: Its global coverage area is more than 1000 km 

4. Power consumption: On a cellular network can consume between 60mA and 120mA of battery power. 

5. Applications: Navigation, location-based services, and asset tracking.

6. Other GPS technologies: Assisted GPS (A-GPS) and Differential GPS (DGPS) 

LoRaWAN Technology

1. Frequency bands: 433 MHz and 868 MHz for EU and 915 MHz for US

2. Bandwidth: 125-500 KHz

3. Coverage: 165 dB

4. Data rate: 300 bps- 37.5 kbps

5. Battery Life: 15+ years

6. Applications: Agriculture, Supply chains, Manufacturing, Utilities 

Sigfox Technology 

1. Frequency bands: Operates in the ISM and SRD bands worldwide from 862 to 928 MHz.

2. Data transfer rates: Data transfer rate of 100 or 600 bits per second.

3.Range: The range of Sigfox devices is up 40 km outdoors, and 10 km in urban areas.

4. Power consumption: Sigfox is a low-power solution for connecting devices and sensors. To uplink messages consumes an average of 24.7 mA to 28.1 mA.

5. Application: Healthcareremote monitoring and control.

NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT)

1. Frequency bands: Uses a 200 kilohertz (kHz) radio band to communicate within GSM and LTE technologies

2. Bandwidth: 180 KHz.

3. Data transfer rates: The data rate peaks at about 250 kilobits per second (Kbps).

4. Range: About one kilometer between a cell tower and an IoT device in urban areas, and about 10 kilometers in rural areas

5. Application: Smart cities, smart homes, agriculture, supply chain and manufacturing 

Cellular networks (5G/4G/LTE)

1. Frequency bands: 5G has three operating frequency bands (Low band, mid-band, high band). They operate in between 1- 40 GHz. Whereas, 4G which also operates in various frequency bands, including 700 MHz, 1.8 GHz, and 2.6 GHz.

2. Data transfer rates: 5G has up to 20 gigabits per second (Gbps). On the other hand, 4G has up to around 100 Mbps.

3. Operating range:  5G’s, low- and mid-band spectrum operates at a range of 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 5 kilometers). Where 4G has a range of 2 to 4 miles (3 to 6.5 kilometers). Yes,5G has a less range than 4G because 5G has a shorter wavelength than 4G, which means it has less range. 

4. Power consumption: 5G uses more battery power than 4G. Also, 5G base stations consume at least twice as much power as 4G base stations.

5. Applications: Transferring voice and data, both messaging and call, over different mobile devices.

In conclusion, the comparison between various wireless technologies in terms of data rate and coverage highlights the variety of options available for communication needs. Each technology possesses its own set of strengths and weaknesses, influencing its effectiveness in different scenarios. Some excel at providing high data rates over short distances, say Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; others prioritize coverage areas with lower data rates. Ultimately, the effectiveness of a wireless technology depends on the specific requirements of the application, balancing factors such as speed, range, reliability, and cost.

Frequently Asked Questions on Various Wireless Communication Technologies

Q1) What factors should I consider when choosing a wireless technology for my application?

When selecting a wireless technology, it's essential to consider factors such as data rate, coverage area, power consumption, and application requirements. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses, so understanding your specific needs will help you make the right choice.

Q2) How does the data rate of different wireless technologies impact their performance?

The data rate of a wireless technology determines how quickly data can be transmitted between devices. Higher data rates are desirable for applications requiring fast and efficient communication, such as video streaming or large file transfers.

Q3) How does power consumption differ among different wireless technologies?

Power consumption varies among wireless technologies and can impact battery life and overall energy efficiency. It directly depends upon the data transfer rate and the scanning and pairing mechanism of each wireless technology, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth consume a higher amount of power while BLE consumes the minimum amount of power. 

It's essential to consider the power requirements of a technology, especially for battery-operated devices or applications where energy efficiency is critical.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Feb 29, 2024
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