This post is meant as a quick reference for those thinking of which low level protocols to use in Pocket Switched Networks (PSNs) (or maybe we should start calling them Peer Aware Networks (PACs)?). The aim is to list PHY/MAC layer protocols and hardware which can be used for opportunistic neighbour discovery and data forwarding between pedestrians. I'm not looking for routing protocols or middleware. Furthermore, this list contains readily available (or interesting, see 802.15.8 for exciting things) technology, and is a work in progress. Please do let me know if I've missed something.

The aim is to collect relevent information for future PSN/OpNet design from research in the areas of:

A final important point to make about the following table is regards to Autonomous M2M discovery. Here I'm looking for protocols that allow autonomous neighbour discovery between homogeneous devices, and you may disagree with my classification. If a protocol requires nearby devices to be in different slave and master configurations for example, this is not homogeneous. If the protocol requires people to manually "pair" devices, then this is not autonomous.


TechnologyFrequenciesGlobally available frequenciesRangeBattery lifeAutonomous M2M discovery SecurityMaximum bit rate
IEEE 1902.1
131 kHz
(inductive communication)
 Yes 1-30 m   Long (5-15 year) No (no tag-to-tag communication) Yes 1.20 kbit/s
ISO/IEC 18000-7
(a good intro)
433.92 MHz Yes 250 m Long with remote wake-ups Yes, 2 seconds worst case Yes 200 kbit/s
IEEE 802.15.4
(and ZigBee)
2.4 GHz, 915 MHz, 868 MHz 2.4 GHz – yes; 915 MHz – no; 868 MHz – no 75 m Short with synchronous listening  Yes, between Full-Function Devices (FFD), ZigBee Routers. Yes 250 kbit/s
 Z-Wave 900 MHz No 30 m  Long (1% duty cycle) No, manual pairing. Yes 40 kbit/s 
 ONE-NET 868 MHz and 915 MHz No 60-500 m   ?? ?? Yes 38.4 kbit/s


900 MHz No 1609  m  3 days (recharges with solar) Yes, time depends on the operation schedule. No 9.2 kbit/s


900 MHz
No 50 m Two months with two 2500 mAh cells Yes, beacons emitted every 90 seconds. No  19.2 kbit/s
Wi-Fi (Ad-hoc 802.11s and Low Power 802.11ah) < 1 GHz
Yes 25 m
Presumed short due to higher bit rates.

Yes with independent basic service set (IBSS), takes 500 ms.

Yes ??
Bluetooth 4.0: Basic Rate 2.4 GHz Yes 5-100 m  Low No, but takes up to 10 seconds with manual pairing.  Yes 1-3 Mbit/s 
Bluetooth 4.0: Low Energy 2.4 GHz  Yes 10 m  1-5% of that of Basic Rate No, but takes 6 ms with manual pairing.  Yes 200 kbit/s 
ANT 2.4 GHz   Yes ?? ?? No, requires slave or master configurations.  ?? 1 Mbit/s
(Broadcast-only distributed wireless network)
?? ?? ?? Low duty cycle of 5%.

Yes, time depends on the operation schedule of gMac.

?? ??
(Ran on Telos)
based on IEEE 802.15.4 Yes  75 m ??  Yes, 100 seconds Yes ??

(FireFly Badges)

based on IEEE 802.15.4 Yes 75 m 15 days Yes, 2.55 seconds Yes  ??
Peer Aware Communications (PAC)
20 Mhz Yes ?? ?? 5-15 ms Yes Up to 10 Mbp/s 
Message Queuing Telemetry Transport for Sensor networks (MQTT-S) based on IEEE 802.15.4   Yes 75 m ?? 15 minutes
(Based on Tadv setting, see this doc)
Yes ??

Some more information about the above protocols is below:

RuBee, IEEE 1902.1

RuBee devices are often called tags,



DASH7, ISO/IEC 18000-7








802.15.8 PAC

Ongoing effort, see IEEE 802.15 TG8. Also Principles and requirements for 802.15.8 PAC document.

Available hardware

DevicePrice per unitComments
Shimmer ?? Bluetooth and 802.15.4.
Waspmote ?? Bluetooth, 802.15.4, and Wi-Fi
Sun SPOT ?? IEEE 802.15.4
MICAz 2.4GHz ??  IEEE 802.15.4 ZigBee Router
Telos ?? IEEE 802.15.4
RFM22 $29.95 Arduino library available
Shrimp Pennies Substitute for the Arduino Uno
 Dust Networks
Texas Instruments
  Getting started with Contiki and CC2530 
CC1110   Thanks to Toby Jaffey for information on the OSbootloader and flasher, and toolchain.