Internet of Things (IoT) Tutorial

IoT Protocols and Standards Explained

Table of Contents

  • Understanding Standards and Protocols of IoT Technology
  • Advantages of IoT Protocols
  • IoT Network protocols
  • Features of CoAP
  • Quiz!

Understanding Standards and Protocols of IoT Technology

IoT protocols are a secure data exchange mechanism. Before citing the list of the best IoT 2022 protocols, it seems essential to look at the vital principles. 

This is because devices connected to the IoT present a higher risk of threats. Thus, the best protocols must be favored to minimize these security vulnerabilities.

As a reminder, these refer to modes of communication to ensure optimal security of data exchanged between devices connected to the IoT. They allow the connection of IoT devices via an IP or non-IP network. However, there is a difference in their range, consumption of power, and memory.

Links over IP networks are complex and require high memory capacity and power from IoT devices, although their reach does not pose any problem. As non-IP connections, such as Bluetooth, require less memory and power, but their range is limited.

Advantages of IoT Protocols

  • High quality and credibility

Communication technologies that follow standards offer a high quality of service and outstanding robustness against interference. They also ensure the reliable and secure transmission of big data from IoT sensors to the edge.

  • Interoperability and flexibility for innovation

Standard protocols have the adaptability to be programmed on various traditional products and hardware, such as gateways and chipsets. Therefore, multi-vendor support solutions help end-users to avoid vendor lock-in.

  • Scalability

Any organization that evolves wants to embrace IoT connectivity that can be implemented globally. However, standard communication protocols provide universal connectivity while minimizing installation complexity.

Not to mention that they play a significant role in determining the cost and characteristics of specific IoT solutions.

IoT Network protocols

CoAP is semantically aligned over HTTP and has a one-to-one correspondence to HTTP send and receive. Small microcontrollers constrain network devices with small amounts of flash memory and RAM. 

In contrast, limitations on local networks, such as 6LoWPAN, are due to high packet error rates and low throughput (tens of kilobits per second). Therefore, CoAP can be a suitable protocol for devices running on batteries or energy harvesting.

Features of CoAP

Because CoAP uses UDP, some TCP functionality is replicated directly into it.

The exchange of requests and responses is done asynchronously over the CoAP messages. It is different from HTTP, where the existing TCP connections are utilized.

Requests and responses are exchanged asynchronously over CoAP messages (unlike HTTP, where an existing TCP connection is used).

All headers, methods, and status codes are binary encoded, reducing the overhead in protocol throughput. However, this requires using a protocol analyzer to troubleshoot network issues.

Unlike HTTP, cache CoAP responses do not depend on the request method but the answer's code.

  • CoAP fully meets the needs of a highly lightweight protocol and with the nature of a permanent connection. It has semantic similarity to HTTP and is a REST protocol (resources, resource identifiers, and manipulation of these resources through 

Uniform Application Programming Interface (API)). If you are from the web world, using CoAP is relatively easy.

  • MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT) is an open-source protocol that has been developed and optimized for limited and low bandwidth devices, high latency, or untrusted networks. 

It is a publish/subscribe message transport that is lightweight and ideal for connecting to small device networks with minimal bandwidth. MQTT efficiently uses bandwidth, accommodates all data, and is constantly informed of the session's state because it uses the TCP protocol. 

It is intended to minimize the resource requirements of the device while attempting to ensure reliability and some degree of delivery assurance with service levels.

These internet-specific IoT protocols were developed to meet the demands of devices with small amounts of memory and those of low bandwidth, high latency networks.

HTTP can be a greedy protocol for an IoT device. It features excellent messages because they are sent in a readable format. In the case of IoT devices, payload size is often a constraint. 

Reporting and accepting commands can be completed more efficiently with a much lighter protocol for a large family of devices. MQTT has been proposed as a solution to these problems. MQTT is not an IETF standard and is led by IBM and the Eclipse Foundation.


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