2.3.2 IPv6 over Low power WPAN (6lowpan)

NOTE: This charter is a snapshot of the 67th IETF Meeting in San Diego, California USA. It may now be out-of-date.

Last Modified: 2006-09-27


Carsten Bormann <cabo@tzi.org>
Geoffrey Mulligan <geoff-ietf@mulligan.org>

Internet Area Director(s):

Jari Arkko <jari.arkko@piuha.net>
Mark Townsley <townsley@cisco.com>

Internet Area Advisor:

Mark Townsley <townsley@cisco.com>


Christian Schumacher <schumacher@danfoss.com>

Mailing Lists:

General Discussion: 6lowpan@lists.ietf.org
To Subscribe: 6lowpan-request@lists.ietf.org
In Body: subscribe
Archive: https://www1.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/6lowpan

Description of Working Group:


Note: Given that there is not much precedent for this type of activity
at the IETF, the text that follows is of an introductory
nature. Hence, its objective is to give a general idea of the
application area and motivations for the work. In particular, this
section is not to be construed as detailing work items for the working
group. That is done in the following section entitled "Scope of the
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 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

* Robustness and simplicity in routing or network fabric

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 ZigBee alliance, for example, is currently
studying what such a work item might entail). The working group is
expected to coordinate and interact with such groups.

The required work includes items in the following (incomplete) list:

* IP adaptation/Packet Formats and interoperability
* Addressing schemes and address management
* Network management
* Routing in dynamically adaptive topologies
* Security, including set-up and maintenance
* Application programming interface
* Discovery (of devices, of services, etc)
* Implementation considerations

Whereas at least some of the above items are within the purview of the
IETF, at this point it is not clear that all of them are. Accordingly,
the 6LoWPAN working group will address a reduced, more focused set of

Scope of 6lowpan:

Produce "Problems Statement, Assumptions and Goals for IPv6 for
LoWPANs" (draft-ietf-lowpan-goals-assumptions-xx.txt) to define the
problem statement and goals of 6lowpan networks.

Produce "Transmission of IPv6 Packets over IEEE 802.15.4 WPAN
Networks" (draft-ietf-lowpan-ipv6-over-802.15.4-xx.txt) to define the
basic packet formats and sub-IP adaptation layer for transmission of
IPv6 packets over IEEE 802.15.4. This includes framing, adaptation,
header compression and address generation. Furthermore, IEEE 802.15.4
devices are expected to be deployed in mesh topologies.

As such, the working group may also work on an informational document
to show how to apply an existing MANET protocol to LoWPANs (e.g.,

The working group will reuse existing specifications whenever
reasonable and possible.

The working group will also serve as a venue for ongoing discussions
on other topics related to the more complete list outlined above.
Additional related milestones may be added in the future via a
rechartering operation.

Note: As may be obvious from its official name above, this particular
working group will not work on IPv4 over IEEE 802.15.4 specifications.
Given the limitations of the target devices, dual-stack deployments
are not practical. Because of its higher potential for header
compression, its support for the huge number of devices expected and
of cleanly built-in features such as address autoconfiguration, IPv6
is the exclusive focus of the working group.

Goals and Milestones:

Mar 2005  Working group last call on draft-ietf-lowpan-goals-assumptions-xx.txt
Apr 2005  Submit draft-ietf-lowpan-goals-assumptions-xx.txt to IESG for consideration of publication as Informational
May 2005  Working Group Last Call on draft-ietf-lowpan-ipv6-over-802.15.4-xx.txt
Jul 2005  Submit draft-ietf-lowpan-ipv6-over-802.15.4-xx.txt to IESG for consideration of publication as Proposed Standard


  • draft-ietf-6lowpan-format-05.txt
  • draft-ietf-6lowpan-problem-05.txt

    No Request For Comments

    Meeting Minutes


    Chairs' slides
    New header encoding proposal