In theory, IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee, Thread etc.) can achieve a much larger range than Bluetooth Low Energy (conventional, not coded PHY) due to its usually higher sensitivity (see for example here or here).

I have noticed the same in my own experiments, too, but do you know about a reputable source where the coverage of BLE and IEEE 802.15.4 is compared under realistic conditions?

You can check the following research paper titled-"EMERGING WIRELESS TECHNOLOGIES IN THE INTERNET OF THINGS: A COMPARATIVE STUDY"
Author:Mahmoud Elkhodr, Seyed Shahrestani and Hon Cheung
They have done a full research comparing iot technologies including BLE and IEEE 802.15.4.

This is the comparative study of Power Consumption, Distance Coverage in Meters, and Data Rate.

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    That is a comprehensive paper, but it the source for the range claims is unclear and is quite likely not based on measurements. – koalo Sep 10 at 8:43
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    This data contradicts the suggestion made in the question. Which is right? – Sean Houlihane Sep 11 at 13:40

These sources are good enough. The reason behind these sources showing less range of BLE than Zigbee is because of the transmission power. the higher the transmission power the greater will be the range. There are a lot of devices which work on 2.4ghz in which your wifi routers are very common and have a big range as well. this causes noise and decreases the range of your device. Now usually wifi routers use channel 1-13. Zigbee uses channel 11-26 and ble uses channel 0-39(Now the problems lies here as well). BLE uses channel 0-36 for data transmission and 37 to 39 to advertise, and not a lot of devices give you all of these channels. HM-10 the easiest available BLE device, has 16 channels which overlaps whith zigbee channels which you can read about in TI cc253x/2540 datasheet,here on page 215. So, if you are using wifi, zigbee and ble in let's say a closed space. Then BLE will have a very short range because of noise and if you try to increase the range by increasing the transmitting power, then it will not remain BLE per se, because if you increase transmission power then you are increasing the power consumption as well, and most ble chips are not meant for that. If you need a big range stick to zigbee or wifi for the time being that's what i will suggest.

First let's clear some things. Did i say transmission power is the only factor? No. Is it a major factor? Yes. Next, sensitivity plays a vital role to receive signal but if you are not able to send signal let's say for more than 5 meters then you cannot expect a higher sensitivity antenna to catch your signals 100 meters away. And if there's a way to do it, please let me know considering it fits inside the BLE chip. To make it more clear read friis transmission equation, i think you will get your answer there.

I hope this answer was helpful to you

  • Transmission power is one aspect but not the only one, and yes, interferences by other devices decrease the coverage, too. But overlapping of frequencies is a problem for all three (to varying degrees). There are many more influences that mutually influence each other (such as sensitivity, bandwidth, modulation...) so I do not see why your reasoning conclusively shows that BLE has a lower range than IEEE 802.15.4. – koalo Sep 10 at 9:08
  • First let's clear some things. Did i say transmission power is the only factor? No. Is it a major factor? Yes. Next, sensitivity plays a vital role to receive signal but if you are not able to send signal let's say for more than 5 meters then you cannot expect a higher sensitivity antenna to catch your signals 100 meters away. And if there's a way to do it, please let me know considering it fits inside the BLE chip. To make it more clear read friis transmission equation, i think you will get your answer there. I hope this answer was helpful to you – Gahlot Sep 13 at 7:07
  • "if you are not able to send signal let's say for more than 5 meters then you cannot expect a higher sensitivity antenna to catch your signals 100 meters away" Sorry, but that is wrong. In fact, the Friis equation states that even if the power fed into the transmission antenna (Pt) is very low, it can be counteracted by high gain antennas. Also, the sensitivity I am talking about is the one of the receiver itself, specifying how low the reception power can be to still result in a sufficiently low bit error rate. And also this can counteract a low transmission power. – koalo Sep 13 at 8:37
  • yes true that but it won't be able to fit in a BLE chip then i think right. – Gahlot Sep 13 at 14:32
  • To achieve higher sensitivity "that fits in a BLE chip" you can, for example, choose another modulation and coding scheme. So it is not a question of "fit", but a question of what is actually implemented in state-of-the-art hardware (or required by the standard). – koalo Sep 13 at 15:28

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