12 Lesser-Known IoT Protocols You Wished You Knew About Earlier

12 Lesser-Known IoT Protocols You Wished You Knew About Earlier

by Alan Jackson — 4 years ago in Artificial Intelligence 5 min. read

As predicted by Gartner, there will be 25 billion connected devices by 2021, significantly higher than their previous estimate of 20.4 billion devices in 2020. IDC data shows that 152,000 IoT devices will be connected to the Internet every minute by 2025. You read right, 152,000 devices per minute. These figures clearly show an exponential increase in the number of connected devices.

Like any other technology, IoT also has its fair share of challenges, which can be a hindrance to its widespread adoption. The good news is that modern IoT platforms are evolving to meet future challenges. Security and privacy have always been the quintessential heels of IoT devices.

The lack of standards and protocols make matters more complicated. Thankfully, this issue has been resolved after the introduction of several new IoT protocols. Unfortunately, a small percentage of enterprises are aware of these IoT protocols, let alone implement them.

Learn about IoT communication protocols and standards that no one has told you before

1. Zigbee

Initially designed to meet industrial needs rather than consumer needs, ZigBee is an ideal choice for industrial sites where data needs to be transferred in small quantities between different buildings or homes.

It operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. Renowned for supporting low-powered, scalable, and secure solutions, ZigBee 3.0 has changed the protocol to a single standard, making it easy to implement at the same time.


MQTT stands for Message Queue Telemetry Transport. Developed in 1999 by Arcom Nipper from Arlen Nipper and Andy Stanford Clark of IBM, it is basically a messaging protocol that enables device communication and helps users monitor their IoT devices from a remote location. MQTT has long been used to collect data from electrical equipment.

The MQTT protocol has three major components:

  • Customer
  • Publisher
  • Broker

The publisher creates the data and with the help of a broker sends that data to the subscriber. Brokers act as an intermediary whose responsibility is to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data being transmitted between publishers and customers. To make this possible, it authorizes and certifies both subscribers and publishers.

3. Cope

COAP stands for Constrained Application Protocol. Primarily designed for restricted smart devices, CoAP is the best choice for devices that have a restricted community. What makes it stand out is its ability to work well with the HTTP protocol as well. In fact, it shares many similarities and some differences with the HTTP protocol.

For example, it is based on the same comfortable architecture that HTTP uses. Secondly, both HTTP and CoAP leverage UDP for small data transmission. The main difference between HTTP and CoAP is in terms of ambiguity. CoAP eliminates the ambiguity associated with HTTP get, insert, delete commands.

4. DDS

DDS stands for Data Distribution Service. Convenience for machine-to-machine communication, this protocol is capable of handling high-performance, real-time communication between machines.

DDS consists of two main layers:

  • Data-centric publish-subscribe (DSPs)
  • Data Local Reconstruction Layer (DLRL)

The data-centric publish-subscriber’s job is to convey information to subscribers, while the role of the data-local reconstruction layer is to facilitate this process by offering an interface to the data-centric publish-subscribe. What makes DDS unique is its ability to transfer data to both low-foot devices and the cloud. This protocol was developed in 2004 by the Object Management Group.
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AMQP stands for Advanced Messaging Queuing Protocol. It is an application layer protocol designed primarily for middleware and is message-oriented in nature. What makes AMQP special is the fact that it is considered a globally standardized IoT messaging protocol.

The AMQP protocol has three major elements:

  • exchange
  • Message queue
  • Binding

The exchange role is to put the message together and organize it in a queue while the message queue is responsible for storing the message. As the name suggests, the binding element acts as a bridge between the exchange component and the message queue components.

6. Loravan

Loravan means long range wide area network. Built to support vast networks with millions of low-power devices, it is one of the best IoT protocols for smart cities. Additionally, it is also being used to secure two-way communication.

The 15 km-long border in suburban areas distinguishes it from other IoT protocols. In urban areas, the range is between 2 and 5 km. Even though the frequency may vary from network to network, the ability to communicate over long distances makes it a great IoT protocol.

7. Z-Wave

The Z-Wave IoT protocol focuses on low-powered radio frequency communications. This protocol can be used in home automation applications. Unlike wireless network technologies such as Wi-Fi, it offers better security, lower latency, and other features. Since this sub works in the -1 GHz band.

The range is anywhere from 30 to 100 meters. The data transfer rate is 40 to 100 kilobytes per second. The Z-Wave can give you cloud access and acts as a bridge that connects different components to each other.

8. Sigfox

Working in between Wi-Fi and cellular, Sigfox takes advantage of the ISM band. Since these bands are free to use that is why you do not need to purchase a license to use this IoT protocol. Sigfox provides low data transfer speeds and consumes low power using a technique called Ultra Narrow Band.

The biggest drawback of using this IoT protocol is that you are only allowed to transmit data over a narrow spectrum, but more so for it with its low power consumption. All of this makes it one of the best IoT protocols for machine-to-machine communication.

We are already seeing its applications in smart meters, streetlights, safety devices, patient monitors and environmental and agricultural-based sensors in Europe. In a rural environment, this protocol can operate in a range of 30–50 km and in urban environments up to 3–10 km.

9. thread

Designed by the inventor of Nest, the renowned home automation solutions provider, Thread is a new entry into the IoT protocol game, but has shown boundless promise. It is basically an IPv6 based networking protocol based on 6LowPAN.

Initially developed to complement Wi-Fi networks in home environments, it has since expanded its applications considerably. Able to handle 250 nodes with authentication and encryption, the thread operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz and has a range of 10 to 30 meters. In addition, it can also support mesh networking within radio transceivers.

10. Anosen

By far, the most innovative IoT protocol, EnOcean takes a completely different approach to IoT connectivity. Instead of following the traditional pattern, it takes advantage of energy harvesting and wireless sensing capabilities. It is an ideal option for devices that have to alert users based on changing circumstances. For example, notify device owners about changes in temperature and ligating conditions.

Even though its applications are quite limited to home automation, logistics, transportation and industrial automation, we can see its applications evolving in different industries in the future. At a distance of 300 meters in an outdoor environment and 30 meters in an indoor setup, this IoT protocol operates at frequencies of 315 MHz, 868 MHz and 902 MHz.
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11. 6LPPAN

LowPAN stands for Low Power Personal Area Network. 6LPPAN is basically a network protocol that uses its header compression and encapsulation mechanisms. The physical layer that this protocol operates on and the frequency band it uses make it compatible with many communication platforms such as Wi-Fi, Sub-1 GHz ISM and Ethernet.

Since this protocol is based on IPv6, it can easily handle millions of IoT devices. That’s not all, each IoT device can have its own specific IP address, which makes it easier for device owners to track devices and improve their security.

For sophisticated control systems offering IPv6 transport systems and allowing businesses to communicate with devices by consuming less power and spending less of your money, we may see its popularity grow in the future.

12. Neul

Like Sigfox, Neul also uses a sub-1 GHz band. It uses different frequencies from 470 MHz to 900 MHz to create low power, high coverage, and low cost wireless networks. It uses weightless communication technology, a new wireless wide area network technology designed to replace existing communication technologies such as GPRS, CDMA, 3G, and 4G LTE for IoT devices. IoT devices using this protocol consume anywhere from 20 to 30 mA of power and can transmit data anywhere from 100 bits per second to 100 kilobytes per second.

Alan Jackson

Alan is content editor manager of The Next Tech. He loves to share his technology knowledge with write blog and article. Besides this, He is fond of reading books, writing short stories, EDM music and football lover.

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