Why would I choose Zigbee instead of Bluetooth Mesh?

To begin, if you're interested in Bluetooth Mesh, talk to us. As low-power wireless experts, and with Bluetooth now available on many multi-protocol silicon platforms, we can help you develop your solution.

But before we do, we'll probably have a discussion like the following one, to ensure Bluetooth Mesh is the right solution for you:

There are two main reasons that the newly-announced Bluetooth Mesh is generating some interest:

1) Most people are familiar with the Bluetooth brand.

2) Most mobile phones already have Bluetooth chips that will support Bluetooth Mesh.

With regards to brand recognition, it's important to realize that Bluetooth Mesh is a new standard. It carries the Bluetooth name, but this is a brand new application and totally different network architecture for Bluetooth. Interoperability in the IoT is a lot more complex than the simple media access control that you currently use Bluetooth for in your speakers and headphones. There are definitely use cases that are interesting for Bluetooth Mesh, but it should be regarded as a new technology.

If robustness and interoperability are important to you, consider the decade-plus head start Zigbee has had in building an effective and highly interoperable IoT Application Layer, not to mention the many platforms and products powered by Zigbee today that represent an existing market.

Regarding the presence of Bluetooth chips in mobile phones: most people assume that this will make it easier to build mobile apps if Bluetooth Mesh is used instead of Zigbee. This may be true if your use cases are limited solely to interactions between a phone and a device in the same room. However, many IoT products deliver the most value when connected to the outside world, whether for remote control and access, or interacting with third party services. For a Bluetooth device, this would be accomplished by adding a device to "bridge" between Bluetooth and IP (Wifi, ethernet, cellular, etc).

At that point, it's more likely the mobile device will just communicate via IP, whether directly on the network or through a cloud service, using WiFi, LTE, 3G, etc. This renders the benefits of having Bluetooth in the phone somewhat moot, and gives you more flexibility to choose standards designed for and well-supported in the IoT.

This is not to say that Bluetooth is not useful as a commissioning tool in conjunction with a more robust infrastructure technology like Zigbee, and the availability of multi-protocol silicon enables this kind of best-of-both-worlds handoff, something we can help work with you on.

Above all else, the most important factor to consider is interoperability. Zigbee has been continually refined and strengthened since its introduction in 2004. It has already been selected by leading smart home and building automation platform vendors and leading electronic device vendors. You can build a Zigbee solution today that will be compatible with a large catalog of existing ecosystems and devices in the field, or you can build a Bluetooth Mesh product and hope that an equivalent catalog is eventually available.

Silicon Labs provides more information to help guide your decision between wireless standards in these articles: 

This blog post also contains some helpful information: Finding the Best Mesh for the IoT.

Legal Notices

Copyright © 2020 MMB Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.
Confidential materials prepared and delivered by MMB Networks for receipt and review only by any partner subject to a valid and enforceable MMB Networks confidentiality agreement. Any receipt, review, or misuse of any of the content exchanged hereunder by any party not a party to this confidential exchange shall be subject to any and all rights available under the law. All rights, title and interest to the materials shall remain with MMB Networks.
Any suggestions provided to MMB Networks with respect to MMB Networks' products or services shall be collectively deemed “Feedback.” You, on behalf of yourself, or if you are providing Feedback on behalf of your employer or another entity, represent and warrant that you have full legal authority to bind such entity to these terms, agree to grant and hereby grant to MMB Networks a nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty free, worldwide license to use and otherwise exploit such Feedback within any MMB Networks products and services.