IoT Protocols

In this post, we will understand different available IoT protocols. If we look at the communication aspect between the different components of IoT, we want to have a common protocol which makes this communication streamlined.

Protocols come to the rescue in this scenario. At a higher level, managing the handshakes and data transfer with “Things”, one can easily think of the I in IoT and conclude Internet protocols are most relevant and important. Along with this, there is a requirement of unifying the communication between different layers which may not be limited to Internet protocols.

Based on your application, it is very important to select proper protocol giving due respect to the type, layer and function to be performed by the device.

Let us dive into the different protocols. We will start with our beloved Bluetooth protocol.


When it comes to bluetooth, we don’t need a special introduction to this protocol! This protocol is being used both as plain Bluetooth of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

Predominantly, plain Bluetooth is used for high data rate applications such as audio applications/streaming. BLE is used for low data rate applications such as NFC communication for accepting payment wirelessly.

As per a recent development, Bluetooth 5 is being looked as a great contender for IoT applications.


It is an acronym of IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks. 6LoWPAN can communicate with 802.15.4 devices on an IP network like WiFi.

This protocol enables the smallest devices with limited processing ability to transmit information using an internet protocol.

A good example for application of 6LoWPAN can be entertainment applications in home, office and factory environments. Also, smart metres and smart grids get benefits from this protocol.


WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity. For data extensive applications, where bluetooth capacities are exhausted, WiFi comes to a rescue. Typically, WiFi devices can provide bandwidth upto 10 metres, but by using private antennas, one can expect an extension upto 30 kms. The only issue with WiFi is the extensive power consumption.

WiFi Protocols

Very popular WiFi protocol is IEEE 802.11, but recently due to various types of demands in terms of type, size and data speed, below new versions are introduced since the first one in 1997.

  • 802.11a
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
  • and 802.11ac

Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP)

Along with MQTT, Constrained Application Protocol(CAP) is emerging as most promising for small devices where low size and low bandwidth are the primary constraints. It consists of constrained devices called “nodes” to communicate with the wider Internet using similar protocols.

CoAP works similar to HTTP client/server model. Evidently, it is based on Web architecture. So in a practical world, a component level equipment as sensor or actuator can communicate with other devices in the IoT ecosystem.

This protocol finds it’s extensive use in the domains – Smart Homes, Smart Grid and other Smart Environments.

Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT)

One of the M2M protocols, Message Queue Telemetry Transport is used to transmit device data to servers. It used publish-scribe communication pattern. If there are wireless networks with varied levels of latency, MQTT is a great protocol to employ.

In MQTT, the message gets transferred between a Client, that can be a message Publisher and a message Broker. The publisher sends data on the MQTT broker specifying a definite topic in a message.

There are some specific messages for the communication with the Broker. The main types are-

  • Connect: establish connection to message broker
  • Disconnect: break the connection to message broker
  • Subscribe: subscribe to a topic on message broker
  • Publish: publish data on a topic within message broker
  • Unsubscribe: unsubscribe the topic

A typical application of MQTT protocol can be an action based on Facebook notifications.

As the development in IoT world progresses, many tech giants are coming up with their own protocols to support the future ahead. Stay tuned with the blog to keep yourself updated!

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