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Concluded WG IPv6 over Low power WPAN (6lowpan)

Note: The data for concluded WGs is occasionally incorrect.

WG Name IPv6 over Low power WPAN
Acronym 6lowpan
Area Internet Area (int)
State Concluded
Charter charter-ietf-6lowpan-06 Approved
Document dependencies
Additional resources Issue tracker, Wiki
Personnel Chairs Carsten Bormann, Geoffrey C. Mulligan
Area Director Ted Lemon
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Final Charter for Working Group


Well-established fields such as control networks, and burgeoning ones
such as "sensor" (or transducer) networks, are increasingly being
based on wireless technologies. Most (but certainly not all) of these
nodes are amongst the most constrained that have ever been networked
wirelessly. Extreme low power (such that they will run potentially for
years on batteries) and extreme low cost (total device cost in single
digit dollars, and riding Moore's law to continuously reduce that
price point) are seen as essential enablers towards their deployment
in networks with the following characteristics:

  • Significantly more devices than current local area networks

  • Severely limited code and ram space (e.g., highly desirable to fit
    the required code--MAC, IP and anything else needed to execute the
    embedded application--in, for example, 32K of flash memory, using
    8-bit microprocessors)

  • Unobtrusive but very different user interface for configuration
    (e.g., using gestures or interactions involving the physical world)

A chief component of these devices is wireless communication
technology. In particular, the IEEE 802.15.4 standard is very
promising for the lower (physical and link) layers. As for higher
layer functions, there is considerable interest from non-IETF groups
in using IP technology. The IEEE 1451.5 standard for wireless
transducers has a chapter for 6LoWPAN and the ISA SP100 standard for
wireless industrial networks has adopted 6LoWPAN for their network
layer. This working group is expected to coordinate and interact with
such groups.

Description of Working Group:

The Working Group has completed two RFCs: "IPv6 over Low-Power
Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPANs): Overview, Assumptions,
Problem Statement, and Goals" (RFC4919) that documents and discusses
the problem space and "Transmission of IPv6 Packets over IEEE 802.15.4
Networks" (RFC4944) which defines the format for the adaptation
between IPv6 and 802.15.4.

The Working Group will generate the necessary documents to ensure
interoperable implementations of 6LoWPAN networks and will define the
necessary security and management protocols and constructs for
building 6LoWPAN networks, paying particular attention to protocols
already available.

6lowpan will work closely with the Routing Over Low power and Lossy
networks (roll) working group which is developing IPv6 routing
solutions for low power and lossy networks (LLNs).

Work Items:

  1. Produce "6LoWPAN Bootstrapping and 6LoWPAN IPv6 ND Optimizations"
    to define limited extensions to IPv6 Neighbor Discovery [RFC4861] for
    use specifically in low-power networks. This document (or documents)
    will define how to bootstrap a 6LoWPAN network and explore ND
    optimizations such as reusing the structure of the 802.15.4 network
    (e.g., by using the coordinators), and reduce the need for multicast
    by having devices talk to coordinators (without creating a single
    point-of-failure, or changing the semantics of the IPv6 ND
    This document or documents will be a proposed standard.

  2. Produce "6LoWPAN Improved Header Compression" to describe mechanisms
    to allow enhancements to the 6LoWPAN headers. Specifically this
    describe compression of addresses that are not link-local. Additionally
    this document
    may include other enhancements or optimizations of the HC1 or HC2
    6LoWPAN headers.
    This document will be a proposed standard.

  3. Produce "6LoWPAN Architecture" to describe the design and
    implementation of 6LoWPAN networks. This document will cover the
    concepts of "Mesh Under" and "Route Over", 802.15.4 design issues such
    as operation with sleeping nodes, network components (both battery-
    and line-powered), addressing, and IPv4/IPv6 network connections.
    This document will be informational.

  4. As a separate Internet Draft, "6LoWPAN Routing Requirements" will
    describe 6LoWPAN-specific requirements on routing protocols used in
    6LoWPANs, addressing both the "route-over" and "mesh-under" approach.
    document will be created and owned by this working group but is
    expected to
    be reviewed by the ROLL WG.
    This document will be informational.

  5. Produce "Use Cases for 6LoWPAN" to define, for a small set of
    applications with sufficiently unique requirements, how 6LoWPANs can
    solve those requirements, and which protocols and configuration
    variants can be used for these scenarios. The use cases will cover
    protocols for transport, application layer, discovery, configuration
    and commissioning.
    This document will be informational.

  6. Produce "6LoWPAN Security Analysis" to define the threat model of
    6LoWPANs, to document suitability of existing key management
    schemes and to discuss bootstrapping/installation/commissioning/setup
    issues. This document will be referenced from the "security
    considerations" of the other 6LoWPAN documents.
    This document will be informational.

The working group will continue to reuse existing protocols and
mechanisms whenever reasonable and possible.

Non-milestone work items:

The Working Group will keep two running, often-respun documents:
-- implementers guide, collecting clarifying information based on
input from implementers, in particular as it becomes available from
interoperability events.
-- interoperability guide, providing information for interoperability
events, such as temporary interoperability testing strategies or
information about test harnesses used for interoperability testing.

Both documents will be WG documents, but their disposition is not
decided at this point (one example for such a document became RFC 4815
after five years of maintenance and 22 revisions).

Done milestones

Date Milestone Associated documents
Done Submit Bluetooth Low-Energy format document to IESG to be considered as a Proposed Standard
Done Submit Use Case document to IESG as an Informational RFC
Done Submit Bootstrapping and ND Optimizations document to IESG to be considered as a Proposed Standard
Done Submit Routing Requirements document to IESG for consideration as an Informational RFC
Done Submit Improved Header Compression document to IESG for consideration as a proposed standard
Done Submit draft-ietf-lowpan-ipv6-over-802.15.4-xx.txt to IESG for consideration of publication as Proposed Standard
Done Working Group Last Call on draft-ietf-lowpan-ipv6-over-802.15.4-xx.txt
Done Submit draft-ietf-lowpan-goals-assumptions-xx.txt to IESG for consideration of publication as Informational
Done Working group last call on draft-ietf-lowpan-goals-assumptions-xx.txt