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Top 9 IoT Communication Protocols & Their Features in 2024

Updated on Jan 12
3 min read
Written by
Cem Dilmegani
Cem Dilmegani
Cem Dilmegani

Cem is the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per Similarweb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work focuses on how enterprises can leverage new technologies in AI, automation, cybersecurity(including network security, application security), data collection including web data collection and process intelligence.

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The backbone of IoT ecosystem is connectivity. IoT devices can connect and exchange data with each other via communication protocols.

You need to know what the top IoT protocols are, and how they work if you are looking to establish an IoT system in your organization. In this article, we will list the top 10 IoT communication protocols and their characteristics.

What are IoT communication protocols?

IoT communication protocols, also called IoT protocols, are sets of wireless networks and rules that interconnect IoT devices. IoT protocols allow IoT devices to exchange data with each other.

What’s the best IoT communication protocol?

The best IoT communication protocol depends on the specific requirements and constraints of a given system. Factors that plays a role in choosing IoT protocols are:

  • Geographic locations: These is physical distances between the two or more devices that form an ecosystem
  • Power consumption needs: This is the amount of time for which the IoT devices are stayed on
  • Physical barriers: These are the barriers that exist between the devices within the IoT ecosystem (e.g. walls, mountains, skyscrapers, etc.)
  • Overall budget: Different protocols cost differently

Note that the IoT data protocols we list in this article are in no particular order.

Summarized table

ProtocolStandardFrequenciesApproximate RangeData Rates
WiFiBased on IEEE 802.11 (common in homes)2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands 50 to 100 meters 600 Mbps maximum; 150-200 Mbps the most common
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.2 core specification2.5 GHz 50 to 150 meters1 Mbps
ZigbeeZigbee 2.0 based on IEEE802.15.42.4 GHz10 to 100 meters 250 Kbps
MQTTISO/IEC 20922----Up to 256 Mbps in size
Cellular DataGSM/GPRS/EDGE(2G), UMTS/HSPA(3G), LTE(4G)900/1800/1900/2100MHz35km max for GSM; 200km max for HSPA35-170 Kbps
Z WaveZ-wave AllianceVarious30 meters0.3 to 50 Kbps
NFCISO/IEC 18000-313.56 MHz 10cm100-420 Kbps
LoraWANLoRaWANVarious2.5km (urban environment), 15km (suburban environment) 0.3 to 50 Kbps
SigfoxSigfox900 Mhz30-50 km (rural environments), 3-10 km (urban environments)10-10000 Kbps

Table Source: Hash Studioz

1. Wifi

It is one of the IoT communication protocols, best suitable for LAN — a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area — environments, allowing for fast data transfer. It uses internet protocols (IP) to communicate between endpoint devices.

2. Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a protocol used for short-range communication and exchanging of small amounts of data for personal products like smartwatches or wireless speakers.

Image of the bluetooth logo

3. Zigbee

Zigbee’s advantage comes from low power consumption, wireless control, security, and scalability. Applications such as wireless thermostats and lighting systems are examples of devices using Zigbee for connection.

Image of the zigbee logo

4. MQTT

MQTT handles the transfer of light and simple data from sensors to applications and middleware. It offers a reliable connection and is bandwidth-friendly.

MQTT logo encircled by pictures of different devices

5. Z Wave

Z wave is based on low-power radio frequency (RF) communication technology. It’s highly preferable for smart home products such as lamp controllers, door locks, electronic kettles, etc.

Image of a house, with all its smart devices being connected to each other through ZWave

Image source: Qubino

6. Cellular data

Cellular networks are capable of handling large flows of data. Its high connectivity range makes it a good choice for connecting objects distanced from one another.

Cellular data logo

7. NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC uses electromagnetic communication between the antennas of two devices that are located next to each other. NFC is the technology used in contactless payment at shops today.

8. LoRaWAN

Lora is a long-range, radio-wide network that has low power consumption and is capable of handling large networks consisting of multiple devices.

Image source: Aydinlatma Portali

9. Sigfox

Sigfox is a long-range network for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, with less power consumption than others. That makes it a good choice for connecting remote devices that have to run on batteries for long periods without charging batteries.

For more on the Internet of things

To learn more about the Internet of Things and its use cases in different sectors, read:

If you believe your business will benefit from an IoT solution, feel free to check our data-driven hub of IoT solutions and tools.

And we can guide you through the process of choosing the best vendor for your business:

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This article was originally written by former AIMultiple industry analyst Bardia Eshghi and reviewed by Cem Dilmegani.

Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem is the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per Similarweb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work focuses on how enterprises can leverage new technologies in AI, automation, cybersecurity(including network security, application security), data collection including web data collection and process intelligence.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Cem's hands-on enterprise software experience contributes to the insights that he generates. He oversees AIMultiple benchmarks in dynamic application security testing (DAST), data loss prevention (DLP), email marketing and web data collection. Other AIMultiple industry analysts and tech team support Cem in designing, running and evaluating benchmarks.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised enterprises on their technology decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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AIMultiple.com Traffic Analytics, Ranking & Audience, Similarweb.
Why Microsoft, IBM, and Google Are Ramping up Efforts on AI Ethics, Business Insider.
Microsoft invests $1 billion in OpenAI to pursue artificial intelligence that’s smarter than we are, Washington Post.
Data management barriers to AI success, Deloitte.
Empowering AI Leadership: AI C-Suite Toolkit, World Economic Forum.
Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU, European Commission.
Public-sector digitization: The trillion-dollar challenge, McKinsey & Company.
Hypatos gets $11.8M for a deep learning approach to document processing, TechCrunch.
We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck AI startup Hypatos used to raise $11 million, Business Insider.

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