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IoT RF & Transfer Protocols

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IoT RF & Transfer Protocols

Internet of Things protocols are a dime a dozen there are various ones that are widely used in IoT with different features. I would like to cover some of the most important ones that we see as an IoT Consultancy, that enable the exchange of data between different IoT devices and between IoT devices and the cloud or IoT platforms.

IoT protocols can be classified into two different categories:

  • Data Transfer protocols
  • RF Network protocols


First, a little about IoT

Internet of things is gaining appeal, and critical players are investing in this technology along with the new way of thinking it entails. The Internet of things promises to be a technological revolution that will invade every area: industrial, transportation, energy everyday life and so on. IoT promises to connect all the devices and enable them to exchange information like wearable, home devices, smart objects. All this information is gathered and analyzed to improve our lives. And thus far there has been a ton of hype, but we are starting to see the payoff in many areas. If you have not already done so, please take a look at a previous post on Untangling the IoT Mystery.

With that said, how do these devices and platforms communicate with each other?


Data Transfer Protocols


We have talked about MQTT before, and this is our preferred method of telemetry data transfer. MQTT stands for Message Queuing Telemetry Trasport. MQTT is a publish/subscribe lightweight message protocol. MQTT is an M2M (Machine to Machine) oriented protocol. Now it is an open standard maintained by OASIS group. The reference architecture is straightforward and it is based on client/server. This architecture enables highly scalable solutions without dependencies between the data producers and the data consumers. The client is generally a sensor that “publishes” the information to the server “broker” that receives the data and dispatch it to the subscribers, in many cases that is other clients or devices. The underlying communication is based on TCP.



The Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) is an open standard for passing business messages between applications or organizations. It connects systems, feeds business processes with the information they need and reliably transmits onward the instructions that achieve their goals. The beautiful thing about AMQP is the “Q” stands for Queuing, meaning that unlike MQTT if the client is not subscribed and listening to it would miss the message. AMQP will queue the message, and once the client is connected, it will get the messages saved in the queue.



XMPP showed up early 2002 when there was an increasing number of instant messaging clients that couldn’t talk to each other. A similar situation has taken place with The Internet of Things, many devices and they all need a path to communicate. Thus XMPP-IoT solves this problem, using XML messages design around the IoT environment. This protocol enables users to send real-time messages and handles the user presence (Online, Offline, Busy). The IoT version allows users to send and receive messages from machines.

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    RF Network Protocols


    Bluetooth & Bluetooth Low Energy

    Bluetooth one of the most widely used protocols in short-range communication WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network). It is a standard for wireless data transmission. It plays a vital role in connecting wearable devices. The BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is a low-energy version of the Bluetooth (Bluetooth 4.0) protocol that reduces the power consumption and plays an essential role in connecting IoT devices. We see this in BLE Beacons, computers, advanced warehouse machinery and more.



    Thread is a short-range wireless technology that is initially designed for home use. It has built-in security at the network layer along with mesh right out of the box. Oh, did I mention yet that its low power meaning a Thread device can smoothly run on a battery? Thread is an open wireless protocol that natively handles IPv6 (the next generation of Internet Protocol addressing) and, like ZigBee, is based on the 802.15.4 radio standard. (Thread does not handle the older, but more commonly used, IPv4 Internet address standard.) Some of the largest chip manufacturers also back thread technology in the world like; ARM, Silicon Labs, Qualcomm, NXP, and many more.



    LoRa Technology offers a very compelling mix of long range, low power consumption, and secure data transmission. Public and private networks using this technology can provide coverage that is greater in scope compared to that of existing cellular networks. It is easy to plug into the existing infrastructure and offers a solution to serve battery-operated IoT applications.



    This protocol has been gaining some traction, and we here at Echolo are excited to see its future. Our lab tests show its extremely battery friendly and will allow devices to run for many years on just a small coin cell. Sigfox is a super low power consumption protocol that operates using Ultra Narrow Band modulation (around 200KHz)! Sigfox was developed with the primary target to transmit small messages without the need to keep the network connection.


    Protocol OVERLOAD!

    Chill out! IoT is difficult, Echolo makes it easy.

    Ultimately, when getting into IoT, you have to consider many things, choosing the right Protocol for Transfer and Network is critical. In the world of the Internet of Things that’s only two of the many choices that need to be made correctly to get your product or project off the ground successfully.

    Companies are often concerned that their employees lack IoT skills and knowledge, along with senior managers lacking knowledge of, and a commitment to, the required technologies to succeed with an IoT strategy. The Internet of Things is new and often a very nebulous idea. In fact, 70% of companies often look to outside consultants or IoT companies for help or try to learn from early movers in similar markets.

    When companies look to secure outside help, they tend to be more successful and reach the market faster. Consultants like Echolo have often seen the pitfalls and can help identify issues early because of the experience they already had with launching IoT based projects. Echolo can help build and deploy your custom IoT solution, come work with us!

    Greg Winn

    Greg is a highly qualified software engineer and expert in big data, with extensive experience in the development of guidance and avoidance systems for high-powered rockets. A veteran of the Air Force, he has spent over a decade at the National Association of Rocketry and has also worked in the online gaming industry. In 2002, Greg founded, a community site for the NovaLogic video game Delta Force, which was later acquired by Playnet Inc. He has since launched several web platforms and SaaS products, including Cignal, a big data Twitter sentiment analysis and predictive tool. Greg has worked with leading companies and organizations such as NASA, Ackerman & McQueen,, and the NRA, gaining a reputation as an authority on how to create and scale world-class software products with startup development teams. His expertise in software engineering, hardware engineering, and big data make him a valuable asset to Echolo's IoT products and roadmap.

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