IoT protocols are a crucial component of the IoT technology infrastructure. Without IoT standards and protocols, the hardware would inevitably be considered useless. This is because the hardware is able to exchange data as a result of IoT protocols. And the end-user can extract useful information out of these transferred pieces of data.
Most often, people tend to overlook the IoT protocols and standards when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). Generally speaking, communication takes most of the sector’s attention. And though the interaction between servers, devices, gateways, IoT sensors, and user applications are key elements of the IoT, communication would collapse without adequate IoT protocols.
That said, let us examine some of the IoT protocols and standards your organization may use in 2022.
What Protocols are used by IoT-qualified devices?
There are two separate and broad classifications of IoT protocols and standards. They are:
- IoT data protocols (Presentation / Application layers)
- Network protocols for IoT (Datalink / Physical layers)
IoT Data Protocols
IoT data protocols are responsible for the connectivity of low-power IoT devices. They deliver communication with hardware on the user side – without requiring any connection to the internet.
The connectivity in IoT data standards and protocols occurs via a cellular or wired network. Below are the examples of IoT data protocols:
MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport)
An MQTT, which means Message Queuing Telemetry Transport, can be described as a lightweight IoT data protocol. It offers a publisher-subscriber messaging medium and enables a simple flow of data between various devices.
The major selling point of MQTT lies in its architecture. Its intrinsic make-up is simple and lightweight and, thus, it has the ability to deliver reduced power consumption for devices. It can also function on top of an IP/TPC protocol.
The primary objective of IoT data protocols is to resolve the issue of unreliable communication networks. This arose as a need in the IoT industry as a result of the growing number of small, inexpensive, and low-power things that have emerged in the network in recent years.
Even though MQTT enjoys vast adaptation – especially as an IoT standard with industrial significance – it, however, does not support a defined device management structure mode and data representation. Consequently, the implementation of device and data management capabilities is completely vendor- or platform-specific.
CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)
A Constrained Application Protocol (CoAp) is an application layer protocol. It is designed to focus on the requirements of IoT systems based on HTTP. HTTP is an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it is the basis of data communication for the World Wide Web.
Although the existing internet structure is readily available and can be used by any IoT device, it is however usually too profound and power-consuming for the majority of IoT applications. As a result of this, a lot of individuals within the IoT community dismiss HTTP as a protocol unsuitable for IoT.
The Constrained Application Protocol has however helped to address this restriction by changing the HTTP model into usage in limited network environments and IoT devices. The benefits are that it is easy to implement, has amazingly low overheads, and can allow for multicast support.
Ultimately, it is suitable for use in devices that have resource restrictions, like WSN nodes or IoT microcontrollers. Traditionally, it is employed in applications that involve smart energy, as well as in building automation.
AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol)
AMQP — Advanced Message Queuing Protocol — can be described as an open standard application layer protocol used for transactional messages between servers.
The key functions of this IoT protocol include:
- To receive and place messages in queues
- To store messages
- Establishing a relationship between these elements
Given its level of reliability and security, an Advanced Message Queuing Protocol is the most commonly used in settings in which server-based analytical environments are required, like the banking sector. It is however not widely used in other areas. Considering its heaviness, it is unsuitable for IoT sensor devices that have limited memory. Hence, its usage is still rather limited within the IoT world.
DDS (Data Distribution Service)
Data Distribution Service (DDS) is a scalable IoT protocol that delivers high-quality communication on the Internet of Things. Just like the MQTT, it also functions to a publisher-subscriber model.
The deployment of DDS can be done in manifold settings; the cloud to extremely small devices. As a result, it is ideal for real-time and embedded systems. On another hand, the DDS protocol, unlike MQTT, supports interoperable data transfer that is independent of the software and hardware platform.
What’s more? It is also regarded as the first open international middleware IoT standard.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
We have briefly talked about the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) model before. It should be noted that the HTTP protocol is not favoured as an IoT standard due to its huge power consumption, cost, weight issues, and battery life.
Regardless, some industries still use it. For instance, 3-D printing and manufacturing depend on the HTTP protocol owing to the huge quantity of data that can be published with it. It allows for PC communication with 3-D printers in the printing and network of 3-dimensional objects.
WebSocket was first created back in 2011 as part of the HTML5 initiative. Messages can be exchanged between the server and the client through a single TCP connection.
Like the Constrained Application Protocol, the standard connectivity protocol of WebSocket enables the simplification of several difficulties and complexities that characterize the management of bi-direction communication as well as connections on the internet.
Its application can be made to an IoT network in which the communication of data is done continuously across manifold devices. Thus, it is most commonly used in places that serve as servers or clients. This includes runtime libraries or environments.
Network Protocols for IoT
Having discussed the IoT data protocols, let’s now discuss the various network protocols for IoT.
We use IoT network protocols to establish the connection of devices over a network. Typically, these kinds of protocols are employed over the internet. Below are some examples of the different IoT network protocols.
It is undeniable that Wi-Fi is the most popular IoT protocol in this category. Regardless, it is still necessary to understand how the most well-known IoT protocol works.
Before you can establish a Wi-Fi network, you must have a device that is capable of transmitting wireless signals. These include telephones, computers, and routers among many others.
Wi-Fi enables an internet connection to proximal devices within a particular range. Another method is by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot. A computer or mobile phone may share a wired or wireless internet connection with another device by broadcasting a signal.
Wi-Fi utilizes radio waves that transmit information on certain particular frequencies, like 5GHz or 2.4 GHz channels. Additionally, there’s a number of channels associated with these two frequency ranges through which different wireless devices can operate. Thus, the overflowing of wireless networks is prevented.
The typical range of a Wi-Fi connection is 100 meters. That mentioned, the most common is restricted to 10-35 meters. The major impacts on the speed and range of a Wi-Fi connection are factors such as the environment and whether it offers external or internal coverage.
In comparison to other IoT network protocols on this list, Bluetooth tends to have a relatively shorter range. Nonetheless, it has gained a vast user base because of its integration into current mobile devices – such as tablets and smartphones – in addition to wearable technology, like wireless headphones.
Standard Bluetooth technology makes use of radio waves in the 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band and is transmitted in the form of packets to 1 of 79 channels. The latest Bluetooth 4.0 standard however has a bandwidth of 2Mhz and 40 channels. With this, a maximum data transfer of up to 3 Mb/s is guaranteed.
This recent technology, called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), can serve as the groundwork for IoT applications that need significant scalability, flexibility, and low power consumption.
In terms of a wide user base in the IoT world, ZigBee-based networks share similarities with Bluetooth. However, it offers specifications that slightly overshadow the more widely used Bluetooth. It features lower power consumption, high security, low data range, and has a longer communication range (reaching as high as 200 meters, compared to Bluetooth’s 100 meters maximum range)
It is a rather simple packet data exchange protocol and is usually implemented in devices, like sensors and microcontrollers, which have small requirements. Additionally, it can easily scale to even thousands of nodes. Thus, it is not surprising that a lot of suppliers offer devices that are compatible with ZigBee’s open standard self-healing grid and self-assembly typology model.
Z-Wave is an IoT protocol that is increasing in popularity. It is a wireless, radio frequency (RF) cased communication technology that is mainly used in IoT home applications.
It works on its own range of 800-900MHz radiofrequency. Zigbee, on the other hand, works on 2.4GHz, which is actually a significant frequency for Wi-Fi. Consequently, Z-Wave hardly suffers from any major interference issues. Z-Wave devices, however, operate on a frequency that is location-dependent. Therefore, ensure you purchase the appropriate one for your country.
Z-Wave is a great IoT protocol. Like ZigBee, however, it is most suitable within the home and not within the world of business.
LoRaWAN is a media access control (MAC) IoT protocol. It enables low-powered devices to directly interact with internet-connected apps over a long-range wireless connection. Plus, it can be mapped to both the second and third layers of the OSI system.
Its implementation is on top of FSK or LoRa modulation for industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radio bands.
It is therefore obvious how important it is to select the proper IoT protocols and standards for your needs. The entire technology stack stands the risk of falling down if you choose the wrong option.