Understand common IoT network protocols

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Currently, the number of IoT devices has increased dramatically. Additionally, there has been a significant but steady change in the number of DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks. According to a statistic published online, there will be more than 41.6 billion IoT devices editing data generation on 79.4 ZB (zettabytes) by 2025. This indicates that businesses, customers, IoT companies, and other industry stakeholders need to understand IoT protocols and standards. These predefined protocols and standards greatly reduce any associated possibilities of security breaches or data breaches.

Introduction to IoT protocols and standards

IoT protocols are communication channels that secure and ensure maximum security for data exchanged between several connected devices. Usually, IoT devices are connected to the internet using an internet protocol or an IP network. However, devices such as Bluetooth and RFID ensure a local connection between IoT devices. In such cases, there is a difference in terms of power, range and memory consumed by the devices. Connections that occur over IP networks are considered relatively less complex, requiring increased memory and power from IoT devices. However, it should be noted that the range of the device is not an issue. On the other hand, non-IP networks consume less power and memory storage thanks to their range limits.

Speaking of IoT communication protocols or technologies, a mix of IoT protocols and non-IP networks can be used depending on the usage of the devices.

IoT network protocols

IoT network protocols are used to connect devices on a network. These protocols include a set of communication protocols used on the Internet. With the help of IoT protocols, end-to-end data communication is allowed within the scope of the network. 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 for laying the foundation for the communication that takes place over the Internet, among the most used protocols by IoT devices when a huge volume of data needs to be released digitally. The HTTP protocol is not a preferred option due to cost, battery life, power savings, and other constraints. Some popular use cases for the HTTP protocol are additive manufacturing/3D printing. The HTTP protocol allows computers to connect to 3D printers available on the network and print 3D objects.
  2. LoRaWan (Long Range Wide Area Network): This long-range, low-power protocol provides signal detection below noise levels. LoRaWan is used to wirelessly connect battery-operated objects to the Internet, whether in private or global networks. This communication protocol is widely used by smart cities, where many devices consume less power and memory. A common practical use case of the LoRaWan IoT protocol is smart street lighting. Streetlights are connected to a long-range gateway using this network protocol. In return, the gateway connects to a Cloud application responsible for automatically controlling the intensity of the bulbs according to the ambient lighting, which ultimately reduces energy consumption during the day.
  3. Bluetooth: Bluetooth is one of the widely used protocols designed for short-range communications between devices and is a standard protocol for wireless transmission of data. Communication via Bluetooth remains secure and ideal for short-range, low-power, low-cost, wireless transmission between electronic devices. This network protocol is widely used in smart devices (mobile phones, watches, etc.) where small bits of data are exchanged without large power or memory consumption. Due to its ease of use, Bluetooth stands out on the list of protocols based on the connectivity of IoT devices.
  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 IoT mesh protocols allowing IoT objects to work together. This mesh protocol is widely used in home automation. ZigBee is also used with several other IoT applications that ensure low-speed data transfer over short distances. A notable use case for the mesh protocol includes street lighting and electric meters in low-energy urban areas. It is also used for security systems outside of smart home automation.
  5. NFC (Near Field Communication): NFC represents a low-speed network used for electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops with a very short distance (about 4 cm). NFC networks allow a pair of devices to connect directly by transmitting data through electromagnetic radio fields. The significant benefit of using this IoT network protocol includes payment convenience, improved user experience, and better overall efficiency. A common use case for NFC is in contactless payment systems that identify documents and cards. They have been specially designed for contactless data exchange and offer a low-speed connection using an easy setup established between two devices placed in close proximity to each other.
  6. Wireless: Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity is the most popular IoT network protocol used to connect devices present near a hotspot connection or signal broadcast. Typical Wi-Fi connections use multiple radio waves to broadcast data and information over specific frequency ranges such as 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, or 6 GHz. The new 6 GHz, also known as Wi-Fi 6E, was the biggest networking innovation of the past two decades. This is at the heart of all digital transformation initiatives, enabling faster and more secure connections from future advanced devices. Wi-Fi network for connectivity is widely used on all modern smart devices.
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