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(also wireless personal area network, short wireless distance network)

WPAN definition

A personal network that wirelessly connects the user’s devices together in their living or work space. WPANs usually only have a short range, covering an area up to a few dozen meters. Devices linked in a WPAN can communicate with each other and access other networks, including the internet.

WPANs are often used to link peripheral devices like printers, smart phones, or home appliances. WPANs can also be used to connect nearby computers without using a wired connection or Wi-Fi.

Real WPAN types

  • Bluetooth (IEEE 802.15.1) is the leading WPAN technology with a maximum throughput of 1 Mbps and a range of up to 30 meters. Bluetooth is energy efficient, making it suitable for portable devices with low battery capacity (such as wireless headphones).
  • HomeRF (home radio frequency) allowed data throughput of up to 10 Mbps with a range of 100 meters, but has been largely abandoned in favor of onboard Wi-Fi.
  • ZigBee (IEEE 802.15.4) offers maximum throughput of 250 Kbps with a range of 100 meters. Zigbee is often directly integrated in small appliances (such as toys).
  • Infrared (IrDA) is a rarely used WPAN method, requiring devices to be very close and immobile during data transfer.
  • Wireless USB enables data communication between computers and the wireless local area network using a “plug and play” wireless USB adapter.