Understanding Common IoT Network Protocols

2022-10-14by Rob Smith

In today's time, there has been tremendous growth in the number of IoT devices. Also, there has been a significant yet regular shift in the number of DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service Attacks. As per an online published stat, there are going to be over 41.6 billion IoT devices generating data mounting to 79.4 ZB (zettabytes) by 2025. It indicates that enterprises, customers, IoT companies, and other industry stakeholders must understand IoT protocols and standards. These predefined protocols and standards significantly reduce all associated possibilities of security lapses or data breaches.

Introduction to IoT Protocols & Standards

IoT protocols are communication channels that secure and ensure maximum security to the data exchanged between several connected devices. Usually, IoT devices are connected to the Internet utilizing an Internet Protocol or IP Network. However, devices like Bluetooth and RFID ensure there is a local connection among the IoT devices. In such cases, there's a difference in terms of devices' power, range, and memory consumed. Connections taking place through the IP networks are considered relatively less complex, demanding increased memory and energy from the IoT devices. However, it is worth noting that the device range is not a concern. On the other hand, non-IP networks consume less power and memory storage through their range limits.

Talking of IoT communication protocols or technologies, having a mix of IoT protocols and non-IP networks can be utilized based on the devices' usage.

IoT Network Protocols

IoT network protocols are used for connecting devices over a network. These protocols include a set of communication ones used over the Internet. With the help of IoT protocols, end-to-end data communication is permissible within the network scope. Some commonly used IoT network protocols include - HTTP, LoRaWan, Bluetooth, Mesh, NFC, and Wi-Fi.

  1. HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol): HTTP is considered the best IoT protocol. This protocol is known to establish the foundation of communication that is taking place over the Internet, amongst the most used protocol used by IoT devices when a huge volume of data needs to be digitally published. The HTTP protocol is not a preferred option because of cost, battery life, energy savings, and other constraints. Some popular use cases of the HTTP protocol are additive manufacturing/3D printing. The HTTP protocol allows computers to connect with the available 3D printers in the network and print 3D objects.

  2. LoRaWan (Long Range Wide Area Network): This long-range & low-power protocol offers signal detection below the noise levels. LoRaWan is used for connecting battery-operated things wirelessly to the Internet, either in private or global networks. This communication protocol is extensively used by smart cities, where many devices consume less power and memory. One common practical use case of LoRaWan IoT protocol is smart street lighting. The street lights are connected to a Long Range gateway with the help of this network protocol. In return, the gateway gets connected to a Cloud application responsible for automatically controlling the light bulbs' intensity as per the ambient lighting, which ultimately helps cut down the power consumption during the day.

  3. Bluetooth: Bluetooth is among the widely used protocols designed for short-range communications between devices and is a standard protocol for wireless transmission of data. Communication through Bluetooth remains secure and ideal for short-range, low-power, low-cost, and wireless transmission amongst electronic devices. This network protocol is extensively used in smart devices (mobiles, watches, etc.) where small pieces of data are exchanged without any high-power consumption and memory. Owing to its ease of use, Bluetooth stands out on the list of IoT device connectivity-based protocols.  

  4. Mesh: Mesh is considered as a group of devices that serve as a single Wi-Fi communication network comprising various devices such as wireless radio nodes, clients, routers, and gateways connected in a mesh topology network. ZigBee is one of the leading mesh IoT protocols allowing IoT objects to work together. This mesh protocol is extensively used in home automation. ZigBee is also used with several other IoT applications that ensure low-rate data transfer takes place for short distances. A notable use case of the mesh protocol includes street lighting and electric meters in urban areas using low power consumption. It is also used for security systems apart from smart home automation.

  5. NFC (Near-Field Communication): NFC represents a low-speed network used for electronic devices like mobile phones and laptops with a very short distance (in the range of 4 cm). NFC networks allow a pair of devices to connect through data transmission via electromagnetic radio fields directly. The significant benefit of using this IoT network protocol includes payment convenience, enhanced user experience, and overall better efficiency. One common use case of NFC is contactless payment systems that identify documents and cards. They have been specifically designed for contactless data exchange and offer low-speed connection using an easy setup established between two devices placed closely with each other.

  6. Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity is the most popular IoT network protocol used for connecting devices present close to a hotspot connection or signal broadcasting. Typical Wi-Fi connections use multiple radio waves to broadcast data and information over specific frequency ranges like 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, or 6 GHz. The new 6 GHz, also called Wi-Fi 6E, has been the largest networking innovation in the last two decades. This lies at the core of all digital transformation initiatives, enabling faster and more secure connections from the upcoming advanced devices. Wi-Fi network for connectivity is being extensively used across all modern-day smart devices.

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Rob Smith

Hi,I'm Rob Smith, a freelance content specialist who likes to read and write on various technology and web hosting related topics. I've been into this field for more than 3 years now and have also been assisting my peers to with effective content strategies. View Rob Smith`s profile for more

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