Wireless Connectivity: 900MHz, Wi-Fi, and BLE

[fa icon='calendar'] Aug 1, 2016 12:34:37 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in 900MHz, BLE, Bluetooth Low Energy, General, networking, Wi-Fi, White Papers, wifi, Wireless

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Deciding which type of wireless connection to implement in a device can be a cumbersome task. Each solutions allows for communication without sorting through an abundance of wires. The 900MHz, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless communication tools can be used to resolve limitations in budget as well as situations where wire placement is troublesome. None of these connections are necessarily any worse than the other, but some connections are better suited for certain environments and uses. The specifications and practical applications for each wireless connection are as followed:

900MHz: 900MHz is part of the UHF radio spectrum and allows for communication in a very local setting. This issue with radio waves is that they can be subject to some interference, so it may be beneficial to check for similar and existing frequencies in potential environments, but a majority of the time it won’t be an issue. The radio-enabled wireless connection can have more range than 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and has the ability to travel through walls and objects with much more success due to its low frequency. This wireless option is the most applicable if efficient and quick communication is needed. 900MHz can typically communicate with desired devices in under ten seconds.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a very practical solution if instantaneous communication is not a concern. Most devices that operate with Wi-Fi are able to operate while offline and can be updated periodically via the internet. Wi-Fi typically has a greater range than BLE, but consumes a good amount of power while operating. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection is also more tedious than it may be with BLE or 900MHz. If security is a concern, Wi-Fi has a more complex encryption than the other options. Wi-Fi removes the locational restraints and allows for greater command over a network of interconnected devices.

BLE: BLE connection is very useful when communication is occurring between multiple devices that are near each other. The speed and data transfer rates of BLE are not great, making it best suited for low-bandwidth use. BLE devices consume low amounts of energy; this can be beneficial for long-term use as operational costs will be very low. This connection assimilates very well with consumer applications of the Internet of Things.

Before any wireless connection is used in a device, there are several factors that need to be reviewed in order to maximize functionality. Manufacturers need to consider the context in which the wireless communication will be occurring. For instance, elements such as speed, signal range, reliability and accessibility, power consumption, security, and user-friendliness are some of the critical things to consider when analyzing applicability of a wireless connection.

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Grid Connect is a World Class Manufacturer

[fa icon='calendar'] Aug 17, 2015 9:59:54 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in 900MHz, BLE, Bluetooth, CANbus, chips, connection, Custom, development, DeviceNet, Ethernet, firmware, General, Grid Connect, hardware, I2C, Illinois, manufacturer, manufacturing, modbus, modbus tcp, modules, Naperville, network, NRE, packaging, private-labeled, PROFIBUS, PROFINET, RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, software, SPI, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, wifi

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Grid Connect Inc. is an ISO 9001-certified, world-class quality manufacturer. Our chips, modules and products are used by thousands of companies around the world to provide a network connection to their devices. All of our products are designed, assembled, programmed and tested in Illinois, USA. All final tests, firmware loading and packaging is done at Grid Connect in Naperville, Illinois.

All Grid Connect products can be customized and private-labeled to a specific customer’s requirements. It can be as simple as a software change to increase buffer sizes or as complex as a new hardware and software design. In all cases, Grid Connect will provide your company with a fixed price quotation for the NRE/development work and the production cost for the final product. We are happy to private label your product and ship it to you with the correct labeling and documentation.

Some networking and protocol technologies that Grid Connect specializes in, include:

  • Ethernet
  • Ethernet/IP
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • ZigBee
  • 900MHz
  • PROFIBUS
  • PROFINET
  • CANbus
  • DeviceNet
  • Modbus
  • Modbus TCP

Grid Connect also specialized in all serial standards, including:

  • RS-232
  • RS-485
  • RS-422
  • SPI
  • I2C


For more specific detailing of the various hardware and software options we provide, call the Grid Connect office at +1 (800) 975-GRID or fill out the form here.

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900 Mhz: The Wireless Workhorse

[fa icon='calendar'] Jul 15, 2010 5:59:35 PM / by Adam Justice posted in 900 MHz, 900 MHz ethernet bridge, 900 MHz Radio, 900MHz, General, Products

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All wireless technologies and frequencies are not created equal.  Most of us have been programmed that bigger is always better, so when it comes to looking at wireless radios you think, why wouldn’t 2.4 or 5.8 GHz be better then 900 MHz.  This isn’t always the case with wireless spectrums.  If we all had businesses that operated out in wide-open fields, this might be true, but most of us don’t operate in wide-open fields.  There are buildings, trees, and other obstacles that get in the way of wireless utopia.   Since most of us do not live in wireless utopias, we at Grid Connect feel that for most applications 900 MHz is the most versatile and best frequency for radios to use.

The lower frequency radio waves of 900 MHz radios provide greater penetration through walls, trees and other obstacles, making it optimal for most non-line-of-sight applications.  A typical AW900xTR Radio using high powered AW-15 15dbi antenna can go distances of up to 1500 feet with buildings and/or trees in the way.  In an indoor scenario, an AW900itr Radio can go similar distances through up to 10 building walls.

900 MHz radios also have the ability to diffract around/over obstacles like buildings or trees.  The radio signal must, however, be given enough room to spread out.    As we like to explain to customers, the radio needs a certain amount of “runway”  (we usually recommend 25-50 feet or more) for the signal to fan out into a “football shape” where it is widest in the center and comes together on the sending and receiving ends. With an AW900xtr Radio and AW-15 antennas under ideal circumstances with a 10° Angle of attack, radios can reach up to 1 Mile, at a 5° Angle up to 5 Miles, and with a 1° angle up to 30 Miles.

The biggest weakness of the 900 MHz frequency is the limited amount of unlicensed bandwidth in the spectrum.  There is only 26MHz of available spectrum, where other frequencies have as much as 3 times the amount of available spectrum.  In some cases, this will result in a lot of noise from other products operating in this spectrum range.   Additionally, 900MHz is not an open public spectrum in most countries outside of North America.

In addition to 900 MHz there are other frequencies available that have unique strengths.

2.4 GHz is a universal band that is unlicensed and accepted throughout the world.   WiFi (802.11), Zigbee and Bluetooth live in this spectrum, and so even though it is wider than the 900MHz band, it has more competition from other wireless technologies.

4.9 GHz is a licensed band ideal for public safety applications and is often used in line-of-sight police, fire, and other municipal network communications.

5.8 GHz offers higher data rates and line-of-sight communications and is ideally suited for long-range wireless backhaul.  With its higher data rates, 5.8 GHz addresses the needs of higher bandwidth IP-based surveillance cameras.

Grid Connect offers a wide range of 900 MHz Ethernet Bridges and other 900 MHz Radios (point-to-point and point-to-multipoint) and for long distance RS232/485 Serial networks as well.    We carry both outdoor NEMA4 enclosed radios and indoor radios.  Our offerings include the AW900x, a simple point-to-point plug & play outdoor wireless radio.  We also offer the newer AW900xTR, a point-to-multipoint radio, which now includes a 900 MHz spectrum analyzer allowing you to diagnose interference issues on the fly.  Indoors, we have the AW900iTR offering a simple easy to use interface with point-to-multipoint capabilities.  The newer xTR and iTR radios can be monitored and configured using their built in web page, which is great for when radios are mounted outside or in tucked away locations.   We also offer a wide range of antennas for various applications as well as other radio accessories.

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