In this article, we will take a closer look at different things that distinguish between BL and BLE. We will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the two Bluetooth technologies. Apart from that, we will see the different application areas of the two types of Bluetooth. It would help you make a well-informed decision for your next project. But before that, we would like to help you create a better understanding of Bluetooth gateways.
What is a BLE Gateway?
Bluetooth Gateways are devices that connect a Bluetooth-enabled device to other hardware or devices. For example, a stereo or audio BL gateway helps in connecting a portable speaker to the Bluetooth device. There are millions of mobile phone users across the world. Many times, we have missed our important calls just because our phone was not around and we didn’t hear the ringing. But with a BLE gateway, we now can address such issues. It is a Bluetooth low-energy gateway that consumes less power than the Classic version. In this article, you will also understand how to use BL gateways on a mobile device also.
How Do Bluetooth Gateways Work?
You simply need to pair your Bluetooth gateway gadget to the Bluetooth device. After pairing the device with the gateway, the gateway sends data or information to a cloud server from the BL device. The gateway registers the BL device automatically by sharing the endpoint data of the BL device towards the cloud. The BL gateway operates by searching for BL devices. Once a device is found, it receives the characteristics structures and device services.
The BL gateway routes the HTTP request for data structure and utilizes cached information to respond to these requests. But, the gateway starts the connection with a BL device and gets the data promptly, if it received a real data request. This is exactly how a BLE gateway works.
Configuring and Using the BL Gateway
Bluetooth gateways are identical to external modems in size and appearance. However, they are similar to network routers, when it comes to functionality. To power most gateways, we need to plug a power adapter into the power outlet. These devices often come with multiple ports on the backside of the device. These are the ports where we can plug in landline telephones or cordless bases. BL gateways also support external antennas to receive and transmit Bluetooth signals.
You simply need to power on your BL gateway, and then the things would be quite straightforward. Therefore, just link one or more phones to your gateway or simply pair your phone with the gateway after turning on the gateway device. After pairing, you will be able to receive your calls from people on paired telephones in your house. Moreover, you can utilize this to make calls since the phones are working from your cellphone account.
Let’s go through some use cases of BL gateways.
1. A Home with Multiple Cellphone Users
It is possible to pair up to 3 cellphones with a BLE gateway. This way, you can address the problem of having multiple phones in your family. You can assign different ring patterns or ringtones to every account. Doing so will help you recognize whose cellphone is ringing. It is also possible to transfer the phone call to your smartphone from the regular telephone. You just need to tap on the button to transfer the phone call to other mobile phones. During this, the operations like call waiting and caller ID will function normally.
2. Landline Service
For a landline service, you should choose a line-in port gateway. Therefore, the standard telephone would perform double duty. Therefore, they would ring normally for a landline call and also for a cellphone call. You can set different ring patterns and ringtones to distinguish between different phones.
3. To Improve the Signal Strength
If there is a spotty cellphone service inside the home, you can use the BLE gateway in the area where the cellphone service is consistent or nonstop. Doing so will help you improve signal strength inside your home.
Benefits and Features of BL Gateways
Take a look at the following features and benefits of BL gateways:
1. Wireless Communication
It helps multiple devices in communicating with other devices without depending on wires, WiFi, or USB converters. These devices enable us to establish local network communication for highly specific communication. The best thing about these devices is that you can integrate telephones and landlines in a network to let them communicate with cellphones also. Therefore, we don’t need to depend on the reach or length of the single communication (telephone or cellphone).
2. Locking and Security
BL gateways come with many security features to deploy according to your preference. You can apply a certain locking feature, for instance. Therefore, the BL communication device user will need a password for accessing the device. It will restrict unauthorized use by safeguarding your communication.
3. Low Cost
When it comes to IoT offerings, Bluetooth stands like the most cost-effective and ubiquitous technology. The reason is that Bluetooth is suitable for use in the long run and it has a global standardization. We can hardly find a more cost-effect gateway with low power consumption than a BLE gateway for wireless communication.
One of the best things about the BL technology is its reliability. It provides adaptive hopping frequency for broadcasting, which means that BL signals would adapt as per their surrounding environment. It minimizes noise and interference than other technologies. The best hopping frequency feature is that it enables devices to work even in a noisy environment. Therefore, a BL gateway can evade channels that WiFi or other Bluetooth devices utilize.
Difference between BL and BLE
To a common person who is not an expert in technology, BL and BLE may sound like the same technology. However, these technologies are different and come with their unique advantages and characteristics. Let’s take a look at the two technologies to help you develop a better understanding of them.
Bluetooth Classic (BL)
It would be a surprising thing if anybody today says that he/she is not familiar with Bluetooth. We all know what this technology does and almost all of us use it on a daily basis. However, only a few people know the specifics. The Bluetooth technology emerged back in 1994 as an alternative to wired connections among devices at a particular distance. Bluetooth uses diverse low-power frequencies to establish links. The BL operation range is 2400MHz to 2483.5MHz, just like many other wireless protocols. Unlike other standards, BL does not communicate data via one frequency. Rather, it multiplies data into packets, delivering them to seventy-nine channels inside the range 2.4GHz.
The supported data rates of Bluetooth are 1Mb/s to 3Mb/s and are generally short-ranged. Most devices lose their connectivity once you are approximately 30-feet away. However, the protocol has the ability to work theoretically for much longer distances. Factors, such as interference, transmitter power, and receiver sensitivity all impact the range of Bluetooth.
Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE)
Bluetooth low-energy or simply BLE came into the market in 2011. As per its name, BLE consumes less power as compared to Bluetooth Classic (BL). Like BL, BLE works on a 2.4GHz spectrum. However, it transmits just forty channels instead of seventy-nine. Another clear difference between the BLE and its BL is that BLE will stay in idle mode until you initiate the connection. BLE saves power as it hops between different rate frequencies. The duty cycle of a BLE gateway is far shorter as compared to BL when BLE is linked.
The data rates of BLE are normally lower than BL, ranging from 125Kb/s to 2Mb/s. Although they are the variation of one standard, BLE and Bluetooth Classic devices cannot interoperate themselves. Internet of Things devices can communicate data over both using one antenna only with the dual-mode chip.
Comparing Advantages and Disadvantages
Normally speaking, BL is suitable to transmit a bunch of data, while BLE is perfect when saving power is more important. Since Bluetooth low-power only offers up to 2Mb/s, it is not ideal for use cases where exchanging larger files is necessary. On the other hand, VL supports heavy data transmission, but the battery would drain much faster. Moreover, Bluetooth Classic is also more expensive. Let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of both BL and BLE.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Bluetooth Classic
Bluetooth Classic allows for heavier data transmission which is the foremost reason why most people opt for this technology. A Bluetooth Classic device can send data continuously with a higher transmission speed, up to 2.1Mb/s. As a Classic device is designed to transmit data continuously, it becomes a perfect technology to stream high-quality, high-definition audio. You should prefer a Classic device if calling is your purpose because it is efficient when it comes to transmitting continuous data.
On the other hand, Bluetooth Classic has some disadvantages too. Classic devices cover a maximum of 30-meters range. It allows for only up to seven devices for an active connection, which is another limitation of the BL. Classic Bluetooth takes extra time to connect than Bluetooth low-energy. A BL device takes approximately 100 milliseconds to pair and connect. Even when a Classic device is on sleep mode it would still be consuming power. Another drawback of standard Bluetooth is that it requires more time than BLE to transmit data.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Bluetooth Low-Energy
The battery life of a BLE device is very long since it consumes a very little amount of power. It is because both slave and master devices go to sleep mode during the transactions. Slave gets instructions from the master about the sequence of hopping and when it should wake up. BLE gateway is a perfect device to transfer small data sizes, especially in IoT-based applications. The frequency hopping of BLE uses 2.4GHz, so it would withstand interference. Additionally, it is important to choose advertising channels different than the frequencies of WiFi channels to evade interference between Bluetooth and WiFi devices. Bluetooth low-energy devices are sturdier, offer reliability, allows for digital life, and they are cost-effective. They are faster than BL as it takes only 3-millisecond to connect.
On the downside, we cannot use BLE devices for high data rates like cellular and WiFi technologies. It only supports 1Mb/s and 2Mb/s data rates. We can also not use it for long-range wireless communications. It offers only up to 200-meter support in LOS. Another disadvantage of BLE is that it is prone to attacks and interception because of wireless reception/transmission.
Applications of BLE and Classic Bluetooth
Some of the Classic Bluetooth applications include wireless headsets, wireless speakers, wireless printers and keyboards, and file transfer between devices. BL is great for items that need nonstop streaming of data and voice. In contrast, BLE is perfect for IoT applications, like Beacons, monitoring sensors, and Fitbit-like devices.
Which Technology You Should Choose?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Choosing between a BL and BLE gateway technology depends on the process or purpose for which you need this technology. Most devices today utilize both technologies intermittently to make adjustments, depending on the current task. BLE has become an ideal choice for applications, such as fleet management programs because it takes less power and helps in extending battery life. If your project requires the longest possible battery life, you should choose Bluetooth low-energy technology. On the other hand, Classic Bluetooth is an ideal choice for smartphone peripheries and smartwatches, etc.