Bluetooth Mesh Vs. Private Mesh: Handbook of IoT Technologies

Minew Jun 07, 2024

Introduction

To gain a more thorough understanding of mesh networks, this article delves into the similarities and differences between Bluetooth mesh and private mesh, by highlighting their definitions, key features, and benefits perceived from real cases of usage.

Mesh networking, as an umbrella term, is often depicted as a group of connectivity or communication devices structured to forward and relay information across (Mesh Networks – the Centre for Internet and Society, n.d.). The increasing number of perishable devices creates demand for mesh networks. Examples are IoT gateways, Bluetooth beacons, RFID personal badges, and NFC chip embedded tags. Due to its key benefits such as flexible coverage and self-organization, mesh networks are widely applicable and more adaptable to commercial and industrial occasions, thus capturing the attention of a wide range of practitioners. However, there are so many different types of mesh networks. One size cannot fit all. Each mesh network comprises unique features, distinctive from others. For instance, Bluetooth mesh and private mesh represent two essential streams.

 

Bluetooth Mesh Vs. Private Mesh

Bluetooth Mesh

Definition

Bluetooth mesh is a coined phrase based on two very good technologies: Bluetooth Low-energy and Mesh networks. Developed by Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) in 2014 and then adopted in 2017, it is defined as a branch of mesh networking, enabling many-to-many communications among IoT devices (Bluetooth Mesh, n.d.).

Key Features & Benefits  

Inheriting the benefits of both mesh networks and Bluetooth Low-energy, Bluetooth Mesh is designed to create large-scale IoT device networks in a reliable and cost-effective approach. Under Bluetooth mesh connectivity, hundreds or thousands of IoT devices connected could communicate with each other at a lower energy cost (Bluetooth&Reg; Mesh | Bluetooth® Technology Website, n.d.). Ever-perishable IoT devices can now become a router that communicates and relays information to other nodes without the extra cost of infrastructure and long-range communication. Its scalability to expand the network and interoperability across devices makes BLE Mesh a high-performing but cost-efficient solution.

Private Mesh

Definition

Suggested by its name, a private mesh network is often defined as a type of mesh network deployed and tailored to applications that require a high degree of control and security. Under such definition, private mesh can be understood as a non-standardized and privately-used communication network for critical-mission applications and tasks.

Key Features & Benefits

Private Mesh networks are a cost-effective and reliable strategy that complements and offsets the limitations of Wi-Fi in diverse outdoor environments and occasions. Unlike Wi-Fi or any other forms of “catch-all” connectivity, private mesh is less expensive and more adaptable to larger footprints such as farms, warehouses, and logistics hubs (Private Cellular Mesh Networks – the Right Fit for a Modern, 2023). When the deployment of Wi-Fi is not feasible especially in open areas and the mission to capture certain information is still critical and essential, the private mesh network is where the solution steps out.

Another key advantage of utilizing a private mesh network is its higher level of security and reliability. Private mesh networks often include custom encryption protocols, secure key management, and robust authentication mechanisms. Network administrators can have complete control over the topology of the private mesh network. While becoming more applicable to specific usages and occasions, private mesh networks maximize the sense of security by making them more private instead of other open-source ones. The application of private mesh networks varies from military and government use to financial services and industrial automation (Private Cellular Mesh Networks – the Right Fit for a Modern, 2023).

Similarities & Differences

Bluetooth mesh and private mesh networks share many common characteristics. Besides the similar names, both networks can enable perishable devices, also called nodes in this case, to connect with each one. Such feature is crucial because it enables devices to communicate directly and facilitate information transmission especially from a complicated system. As a result, now escalated amounts of information can be handled in a more reliable approach since each node is no longer interacting only with a central hub.

Standardization Versus Customization

There has always been a trade-off between standardization and customization. Bluetooth Mesh is relatively a more standardized protocol. Such features of being standardized contribute to interoperability among devices from different manufacturers, making it easier to be installed and integrated with the existing IoT ecosystem. In contrast, private mesh is born to be customized. Each manufacturer can customize the private mesh network according to their needs, increasing the level of security and customization at the cost of interoperability.

Besides, different levels of customization owned by two technologies are also shown in terms of working principles and protocols. For instance, BLE Mesh mainly relies on Bluetooth Low-energy while private Mesh, on the other side, is subjective to various protocols, such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave.

In addition, the communication methods given by these two mesh networks are also different. On the one side, orders from the gateway are broadcast to all nodes in a BLE mesh so that each node can cooperate and relay information until it is finally transmitted to the central hub. On the other, in a private mesh network, the system will dynamically determine the best route for data transmission. The private mesh network may deploy OLSR (Optimized Link State Routing) or AODV (Ad-hoc On-Demand Distance Vector) according to network conditions before having data and information transferred.

Conclusion

This article serves as a holistic overview of the similarities and differences between two types of mesh networking technologies, in terms of their definitions, working principles, and benefits derived. By contributing to the knowledge of BLE Mesh and private Mesh, this article creates value by letting people make more knowledge and scientific-based business decisions when selecting and customizing their unique IoT connectivity solutions. For more information regarding each technology, click on related articles to dive deeper.

 

WORKS CITED

Bluetooth® Mesh | Bluetooth® Technology Website. (n.d.-b). Bluetooth® Technology Website. https://www.bluetooth.com/learn-about-bluetooth/feature-enhancements/mesh/

Bluetooth Mesh. (n.d.). MATLAB & Simulink. https://www.mathworks.com/discovery/bluetooth-mesh.html

Mesh Networks — The Centre for Internet and Society. (n.d.-b). https://cis-india.org/telecom/resources/mesh-networks

Private Cellular Mesh Networks – The Right Fit for a Modern. (2023, February 16). RCR Wireless News. https://www.rcrwireless.com/20230215/network-infrastructure/wi-fi/private-cellular-mesh-networks-the-right-fit-for-a-modern-enterprise

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