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No, Bluetooth Mesh Is Not Going To Replace Wi-Fi Or Take Zigbee Out Of The Picture

19 July 2017, 8:47 pm EDT By Vincent Lanaria Tech Times
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Bluetooth Mesh is set to become another smart home standard, but just to be clear, it won't replace Wi-Fi. It's not taking Zigbee, another mesh networking player, out of the game either.  ( David Becker | Getty Images )

Bluetooth headphones? They're already passé at this point — if they ever did become a hot ticket, that is. Now Bluetooth buildings are where it's at.

That's all being made possible by none other than the Bluetooth Special Interest Group or SIG, paving the way to a world where devices in an entire building are all connected in one network with Bluetooth Mesh.

While the technology has all the right stuff to become yet another smart home industry standard, it can't replace Wi-Fi. It's not exactly new either, as other mesh networks such as Zigbee have been in the game with the Philips Hue lights already.

Bluetooth Mesh Not Replacing Wi-Fi

First and foremost, the biggest reason why Bluetooth Mesh won't take Wi-Fi's place is it's slow, supporting a speed of 1 Mbps.

Of course, that's not surprising at all since that's not the Bluetooth SIG's goal here. What it aims to do is to let devices communicate with one another and make range limitations a thing of the past.

Picture this: If a device's signal can't get from point A to point B because the latter is too far away, then another device in the network between them will pass it on, thus extending the reach. If the signal still can't reach its destination, then it'll continue communicating with other devices along the way until it makes it at the endpoint.

"Bluetooth mesh is optimized for creating large-scale device networks and is ideally suited for building automation, sensor network, asset tracking solutions. Only Bluetooth mesh networking brings the proven, global interoperability and mature, trusted ecosystem associated with Bluetooth technology to the creation of industrial-grade device networks," Bluetooth SIG says.

Long story short, Bluetooth Mesh isn't out to get rid of Wi-Fi. In fact, the folks behind Wi-Fi are the ones out for blood, so to speak, with Wi-Fi HaLow.

Bluetooth Mesh Not Killing Off Zigbee

Bluetooth Mesh may do away with smart home hubs in the foreseeable future, but it won't get rid of Zigbee just yet.

At least, that's what IHS Markit analyst Lee Ratliff thinks.

"I think they'll live side by side for quite a while," he tells CNET, saying that Philips has a long-term commitment with Zigbee.

However, Philips Lighting head Ruud van Bokhorst did recently join the Bluetooth SIG's board of directors, along with Google and Nest Labs senior software architect Martin Turon.

That could be an indication that Philips will take its Hue business elsewhere down the road.

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