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6LoWPAN Network

What is 6LoWPAN?

6LoWPAN is an acronym of IPv6 over Low-power Wireless Personal Area Networks, the name of the working group in the internet area of IETF and a specification to allow the use of IPv6 over IEEE 802.15.4 networks, defined in RFC4919 [1]. The 6LoWPAN group in IETF aimed at defining header compression mechanism that allow IPv6 packets to be sent and received from over 802.15-based networks [2]. Application for 6LoWPAN networks are made in very similar way to the Internet, as seen in figure below

6LoWPAN stack

6LoWPAN technology is designed to be used on applications that require low data rate, low-cost, low power consumptions, and two way wireless communications [3]. 6LoWPAN devices based on IEEE 802.15.4 standard theoretically provides 250 kbps data rate and 127 bytes frame size, this would need a considerable amount of compression for controlling most IP-USN devices using IPv6 (1280 bytes). Devices in 6LoWPAN can be divided in two groups: full function and reduced function devices. FFDs will typically have more resources and may be main powered. Accordingly, FFDs will aid RFDs by providing functions such as network coordination, packet forwarding, interfacing with other types of networks, etc.

The overall 6LoWPAN architecture defined as three different kinds of LoWPANs: Simple LoWPANs, Extended LoWPAN, and Ad-hoc LoWPAN. A LoWP AN is the collection of 6LoWPAN nodes which share a common IPv6 address prefix (the first 64 bits of an IPv6 address), meaning that regardless of where a node is in a LoWPAN its IPv6 address remains the same. An Ad hoc LoWPAN is not connected to the Internet, but instead operates without an infrastructure. A Simple LoWPAN is connected through one LoWPAN Edge Router to another IP network. An Extended LoWPAN encompasses the LoWPANs of multiple edge routers along with a backbone link interconnecting them.

6LoWPAN Network


[1] N. Kushalnagar, G. Montenegro, and C. Schumacher, “IPv6 over low-power wireless personal area networks (LoWPANs): overview, assumptions, problem statement, and goals”, RFC 4919, 2007.

[2] J. Hui, P. Thubert, “Compression Format for IPv6 Datagrams over IEEE 802.15.4-Based Networks, RFC 6282, 2011.

[3] Z. Shelby and C. Bormann, 6LoWPAN: The Wireless Embedded Internet, Wiley, Chichester, UK, 2009.