What is Thread?

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Thread® is an IPv6-based networking protocol designed for low-power Internet of Things devices in an IEEE 802.15.4-2006 wireless mesh network, commonly called a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN). Thread is independent of other 802.15 mesh networking protocols, such a ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth LE.

Thread's primary features include:

  • Simplicity — Simple installation, start up, and operation
  • Security — All devices in a Thread network are authenticated and all communications are encrypted
  • Reliability — Self-healing mesh networking, with no single point of failure, and spread-spectrum techniques to provide immunity to interference
  • Efficiency — Low-power Thread devices can sleep and operate on battery power for years
  • Scalability — Thread networks can scale up to hundreds of devices

If you're new to Thread, understanding the basics are critical to using OpenThread in your own applications. The goal of this primer is to explain the concepts behind Thread and how it works, and provide a springboard to OpenThread development.

It is assumed you have good working knowledge of the following:

  • IEEE 802.15.4
  • Networking and routing concepts
  • IPv6

To review the full Thread Specification, refer to threadgroup.org.