The uplink to the Internet is handled by the Access Point (AP) acting as an IPv6 router. Several different devices are connected to the AP in a typical setup, such as PCs, servers, etc.
The 6LoWPAN network is connected to the IPv6 network using an edge router. The edge router handles three actions which are:
1) The data exchange between 6LoWPAN devices and the Internet (or other IPv6 networks)
2) Local data exchange between devices inside the 6LoWPAN
3) The generation and maintenance of the radio subnet (the 6LoWPAN network).
By communicating natively with IP, 6LoWPAN networks are connected to other networks simply using IP routers. 6LoWPAN networks will typically operate on the edge, acting as pocket networks. This means data going into the network is destined for one of the devices inside the 6LoWPAN.
One 6LoWPAN network may be connected to other IP networks through one or more edge routers that forward IP datagrams between different media. Connectivity to other IP networks may be provided through any random link, such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or 3G/4G. 6LoWPAN only specifies the operation of IPv6 over the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, edge routers may also support IPv6 transition mechanisms to connect 6LoWPAN networks to IPv4 networks, such as NAT64 defined in RFC 6146. These IPv6 transition mechanisms do not require the 6LoWPAN nodes to implement IPv4 in whole or in part.
Other network architectures such as ZigBee, Z-wave, Bluetooth, or exclusive legal networks require stateful and sometimes complex application gateways to connect to IP-based networks, such as the Internet. Any changes to application protocols on the wireless node must be accompanied by changes on the gateway and the application gateways must understand any application profiles that may be used in the network.
However, the edge router remains unrelated to the application protocols used in the 6LoWPAN. Besides, it lowers the burden on the edge router in terms of processing power so that it is possible to use embedded devices that have less complex hardware, run simpler software, and lower cost. The use of proxies and caches which are used widely on the internet was not prevented by the IP architecture. There are two other devices included inside a typical 6LoWPAN network which are hosts and routers. The hosts are not able to route data to other devices in the network and also known as end devices. Hosts also are called a sleepy device that wakes up at a certain time to check its router for data ad enabling a very low power consumption. Routers route data destined to another node in the 6LoWPAN network as the name implies.
The above 6LoWPAN network architecture can be visually explained in the two slides to make it easy to understand how it relates to the topic.
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