last updated: 2022-11-07
Song of this chapter: Roger Waters > Radio K.A.O.S. > Radio Waves
Wireless is quite self explaining: there is no wire, so the transfer of information or power normally passes using radio waves. Depending of the power or technique used short and long distances can be bridged.
The Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) would not happen without a bunch of performant wireless protocols. Billions of Things have to be connected to the (wired) Internet and doing this wirelessly facilitates the installation a great deal.
But there are also drawbacks using wireless communication. The communication can easily be disturbed, intercepted and the frequency channels are limited.
Radio communication uses radio waves defined as electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 Hertz (Hz) and 300 Gigahertz (GHz), including microwaves.
They are part of the electromagnetic spectrum seen in ELEFU (alternating current).
|Extremely high frequency||EHF||300 GHz
|Super high frequency||SHF||
|Ultra high frequency||UHF||
|Very High frequency||VHF||
|High frequency||HF||30 MHz
|Radio waves||Very low frequency||VLF||
|Ultra low frequency||ULF||3 kHz
|Super low frequency||SLF||
|Extremly low frequency||ELF||
We know current and voltage. Voltage is often the cause and the current is the effect. Voltage stands for an electric field. With a current flowing we get mandatory a magnetic field. Is the current changing (alternating voltage and current current) we get
electromagnetic fields. These fields have the characteristic to leave a wire as electromagnetic wave.
How much of the electromagnetic energy leaves the wire (or stays as voltage and current) depends on the length of the wire and the frequency respectively the wavelength of the signal.
Let's refresh our knowledge:
fand the unit is hertz
s-1(cycle per second).
Tis the duration of time of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. It's unit is the second
And here a new one:
λis the spatial period of a periodic wave. It is the distance over which the waves shape repeats. It's unit is the meter
The wavelength is the distance in space between e.g. two adjacent crests of the wave. It is a characteristic of both travelling waves and standing waves.
for electromagnetic waves in free space:
Radio waves are generated by a device called transmitter connected to an antenna. The antenna gets energy from a current and enables this energy to leave the wire and radiates the electromagnetic wave (radio wave).
An illustrative example of radio waves that propagate around a transmitting antenna are water waves that occur when you throw a stone into a lake
Another antenna connected to a radio receiver reconverts the received energy of the wave to a current. Antennas work in two directions like speaker for acoustic waves.
Devices integrating a transmitter and a receiver are called a transceiver.
Radio waves are very widely used in modern technology, but the bandwidth must be shared by all the users. To prevent interferences, the emission of radio waves is strictly regulated by laws, coordinated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which allocates frequency bands in the radio spectrum for different uses.
All communication methods have a maximum maximum error-free information rate for a particular noise level also called
Claude Shannon presented in 1948 the noisy-channel coding theorem or
Shannon's theorem (from wikipedia):
For any given degree of noise contamination of a communication channel, it is possible to communicate discrete data (digital information) nearly error-free up to a computable maximum rate through the channel.
The channel capacity
C can be calculated from the physical properties of a channel; for a band-limited channel with Gaussian noise, using the
Cthe channel capacity (bit/s) excluding error correcting codes
Bis the available bandwidth (Hz)
S/Nis the signal-to-noise ratio (
This simplified formula helps us to understand and classify wireless networks. The bit rate is proportional to the bandwidth! Increasing the signal power between the receiver and the sender also increases the bitrate!
Radio communication uses a shared medium: radio waves (electromagnetic waves). A certain standard is allowed to use a certain frequency range. For example
WiFi standards 802.11b and 802.11g both use the 2.4–2.5 GHz band, or
LoRa uses an ISM band (e.g. 867-869 MHz). A doubling in available frequency range will double the data rate. The WiFi standard 802.11n improved WiFi performance over earlier WiFi standards by going from 20 to 40 MHz of bandwidth!
As we know it also depends were our frequency band is situated in the overall frequency range. Low-frequency signals travel farther and cover large areas called macrocells (with more clients competing for access). Also the antennas are much bigger (wavelength/2). High-frequency signals can transfer more data with a much shorter range (smaller coverage areas called microcells) and a requirement for more receive antennas.
|Technology||Range||distance||Tx Power||Bitrate||Frequency (EU)|
|NFC||very short||<10 cm||200 mW||106-424 kbit/s||2.4 GHz|
|Bluetooth||short||1 m, 10 m, 100 m||1 mW, 2.5 mW, 100 mW||128 kbit/s - 2 Mbit/s||2.4 GHz|
|ZigBee||short||10-100 m||1-100 mW||20-250 kbits/s||868 MHz or 2.4 GHz|
|Z-Wave||short||15-50 m||10 mW||10-40 kbits/s||868 MHz|
|Wifi||medium||50-250 m||80 mW||11-450 Mbit/s||2.4 GHz or GHz|
|3G/4G||medium||52.4 km||50002.4 mW||1.8-8 GHz|
|Sigfox||long||3-40 km||25 mW (up) 500 mW (down)||100-600 bit/s||868 MHz|
|NB-IoT||long||3-30 km||300 bit/s-200 kbit/s||868 MHz + LTE?|
|LoRa(WAN)||long||2-10 km||20 mW||300 bit/s-50 kbit/s||433 MHz or 868 MHz|