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Communication protocols in IoT: Introduction and Guide

Various types of wireless communication technologies support devices to realize data communication between devices or between devices and serial servers without cable connection, all of which are carried out under various protocol conditions.

Communication protocols in IoT play a crucial role in enabling devices and systems to exchange data seamlessly. The choice of communication protocol depends on factors such as the nature of the devices, the network infrastructure, power constraints, and the specific requirements of the application. Here are some commonly used communication protocols in IoT.

Table of Contents:

1.Short Range IOT Wireless Communication Protocols

    1.1 Bluetooth module and BLE transmission protocol

1.2 NFC Communication Protocols

1.3 Z-wave Protocol

1.4 RFID Protocol

 2.Mid Range IOT Communication Protocols

    2.1 Wi-Fi Protocol
    2.2 ZigBee Protocol

3.Long Range IOT Wireless Communication Protocols
   3.1 LoRa Protocol and LoRaWAN Protocol

    3.2 NB-IoT(Narrowband Internet of Things ) Protocol
    3.3 LTE-M Protocol
    3.4 Wi-Fi HaLow protocol
    3.5 5G Networks

Short Range IOT Wireless Communication Protocols

Refer article about wireless communication technologies:

Bluetooth module and BLE transmission protocol

Bluetooth technology is a wireless communication technology. The early Bluetooth technology mainly refers to the Bluetooth classic protocol, and later developed the low-power Bluetooth protocol.

 Bluetooth Low Energy Protocols

The Bluetooth Classic protocol was jointly developed by companies such as Ericsson, IBM, Nokia, and Toshiba. It was launched in 1999 and is suitable for short-distance, low-rate wireless data transmission. The Bluetooth classic protocol has a high data transmission rate and transmission distance, and can connect multiple devices at the same time, but it consumes more power and is not suitable for low-power devices.


In order to meet the needs of low-power devices, Bluetooth SIG released the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol (Bluetooth Low Energy, BLE) in 2010, also known as Bluetooth 4.0. The Bluetooth low energy protocol can realize the advantages of low power consumption, low cost, and miniaturization, and is suitable for some devices that need to run for a long time and consume low power consumption.


ble 5.0 module

Available since version 4.0 of the protocol. As the name implies, BLE sacrifices performance and operating range for lower power consumption. The vast difference in channel and protocol resource usage necessitated the division of devices related to the two standards, resulting in dual-mode chipsets capable of operating with both Bluetooth variants and single-mode chipsets that could only support the two standards of one (at the discretion of the manufacturer). Like Bluetooth Classic, BLE also operates in the free ISM band at 2.4 GHz and uses the same modulation and FHSS technology, but it works differently at the higher protocol levels. Compared to Bluetooth Classic, the BLE variant uses only 40 channels in the 2.4 GHz band, with channel spacing from 1 to 2 MHz. Of the 40 channels provided by BLE, three of them are dedicated to the Advertising process, channels 37, 38, and 39. The remaining 37 channels are used for data transmission between Master and Slave.

The difference between classic bluetooth and low energy bluetooth:

Unlike Bluetooth Classic, there are no power classes, but an operating range between two extremes, the maximum and minimum power levels at the transmitter output. These limits are 10 mW and 0.01 mW respectively, so they are much lower than Bluetooth Classic devices. Unlike the latter, the operating range is also reduced, from a minimum of one meter to a maximum of about 10 m. This limited operating range can be greatly increased by using a mesh network topology instead of the typical star topology.


The key to BLE's efficiency is of course the low number of channels (40 compared to the 79 defined by Bluetooth Classic), of which only three, the advertising channels, are actually used for advertising, scanning and establishing a connection between two nodes. Also, BLE data packets are smaller compared to classic Bluetooth. BLE is the most commonly used protocol for wearables, smart devices, and inexpensive battery-operated environmental sensors that periodically transmit data to a central host that acts as a gateway, ensuring good battery life in a tiny format.


Bluetooth modules and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless transmission are wireless technologies used to transmit data over short distances. It is often used to connect small smart devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, such as various voice systems. Bluetooth low energy modules (BLE) have less power than standard Bluetooth modules and are often used in IoT applications for fitness bracelets, smart watches, or other wearable small hardware devices.

NFC (Near Field Communications)Communication Protocols

NFC is a near-field communication technology, a short-distance, high-frequency wireless communication protocol, mainly used for short-distance data exchange and connection. NFC (Near Field Communication) is near-field communication technology, which is a technology for data transmission within the wireless radio frequency range of 13.56 MHz.


The emergence of NFC technology can be traced back to the early radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. With the development of technology, NFC technology has gradually become a more flexible and powerful near-field communication technology. The application of NFC technology is also becoming more and more extensive, such as in smart phone payment, smart home, bus card, access control card and other fields.

Refer products:


EBYTE E83-2G4M03S Small size and low power consumption BLE 5.2 Ble mesh wireless module nrf5340 module                    


[Chip solution]nRF5340

[Support protocol]BLE 5.2

[Communication distance]170m

[Product size]16.0*16.0mm

[Introduction]E83-2G4M03S is a small and low-power Bluetooth module developed by EBYTE. It uses the nRF5340 RF chip imported from Nordic Company and supports Bluetooth BLE5.2; The chip has a dual core high-performance ARM CORTEX-M33 core, uses 32M industrial crystal oscillator,and has rich peripheral resources such as UART, I2C, I2S, high-speed SPI, QSPI,USB, ADC, DMA, PWM, PDM, etc; It also supports ZIGBEE, Thread,NFC, ANT, 802.15.4 and 2.4 GHz proprietary protocol

4 application developments of NFC technology

1. Basic functions: Initially, NFC was mainly used for data transmission and device connection, such as point-to-point data transmission and connection between mobile phones.


2. Mobile payment: With the rise of mobile payment, NFC has begun to be used in the payment function of smart phones, such as the contactless payment function realized by the NFC chip of the mobile phone.

3. Smart home: NFC began to be used for the control and linkage of smart homes, such as access control, lighting control, temperature control and other functions through NFC chips.


4. Public transportation: NFC began to be used in the field of public transportation, such as realizing the card swiping function of bus cards.


The application development of NFC technology is still expanding. With the rise of concepts such as smart homes and smart cities, the application prospects of NFC technology in more fields are also very broad. At the same time, NFC technology also faces some challenges in the application process, such as short transmission distance, security issues, etc., which require continuous technological innovation and improvement.


Z-wave Protocol


Z-wave: It is a low-power, low-speed, short-distance wireless communication protocol. It is mainly used for data transmission between devices in smart homes. It has the advantages of simple network networking and low energy consumption.

Z-wave is a low-power, wireless, short-range, Mesh network protocol, mainly used in the field of smart home and Internet of things. It can connect various smart home devices together to form a stable, efficient and smart home network.


The Z-wave protocol was originally developed by the Danish company Zen-Sys, aiming to provide a low-power, wireless network protocol for the smart home field. Later, Zen-Sys was acquired by Sigma Designs in the United States and opened the Z-wave protocol to other companies for use and development.

Z-wave protocol

Features of the Z-wave protocol:


1. Low power consumption: The Z-wave protocol adopts a low power consumption design, which can extend the battery life of the device and reduce power consumption.


2. Wireless Mesh network: Z-wave devices can communicate with each other to form a wireless Mesh network that can cover the entire home and improve network stability and reliability.


3. Security: Z-wave protocol adopts AES-128 bit encryption algorithm, which can guarantee the security and privacy of the network.


4. Easy to install and configure: Z-wave devices can automatically discover and join the network, while supporting automatic configuration and settings.


The application development of the Z-wave protocol is mainly concentrated in the field of smart home. With the popularization and development of smart homes, Z-wave devices are more and more widely used, such as smart lights, smart door locks, smart curtains and so on. At the same time, the Z-wave protocol has also begun to be applied to other IoT fields, such as smart medical care, smart cities, and so on.


In general, the emergence and application development of the Z-wave protocol provides a low-power, high-efficiency, and secure network protocol for the smart home and the Internet of Things, and provides a good foundation for the development of smart homes and the Internet of Things. support and help.


RFID Protocol


RFID, (refer to:Why RFID can be called the perfect passive IoT technology )or radio frequency identification technology, is a wireless communication technology used to automatically identify objects and obtain relevant information. The RFID system consists of a reader and a tag. The transmission range of RFID technology varies according to different frequency bands and standards. Generally speaking, the transmission range of RFID technology is relatively short, up to tens of meters or even farther away, but usually its transmission range is relatively limited, generally between a few centimeters and several meters. Due to its short transmission distance, RFID technology is usually used for short-range identification and transmission applications.The tag contains useful information. The reader communicates with the tag through radio waves to read the information on the tag.

RFID Protocol

RFID technology is not a specific protocol, but involves a variety of protocols, standards and norms. According to different application scenarios and requirements, RFID technology can adopt different protocols and standards. Common RFID protocols include ISO/IEC 14443, ISO/IEC 15693, EPCglobal, etc.


The generation of RFID technology can be traced back to the wireless electronic radar during World War II. In the early 1960s, the United States wanted to realize the tracking and management of materials on nuclear submarines, so it began to study RFID technology. With the continuous development and improvement of technology, RFID technology has begun to be used in logistics, inventory management, manufacturing, security and other fields.


The application and development of RFID technology mainly has the following aspects:


1. Logistics and inventory management: RFID technology can automate logistics and inventory management, improve efficiency and accuracy, and reduce costs.


2. Manufacturing: RFID technology can realize the automation and informatization of manufacturing, improve production efficiency and quality, and reduce costs.


3. Security: RFID technology can be used in security fields such as access control and vehicle management to improve security and management efficiency.


4. Medical and health: RFID technology can be used in the field of medical and health, such as medical equipment management, drug traceability, etc.


In general, the application and development of RFID technology is very extensive, and can be applied to logistics, manufacturing, security, medical health and other fields, providing convenience and efficiency improvement for related industries.


2. Mid Range IOT Communication Protocols


WiFi communication protocol


The WiFi module is a wireless module that uses radio waves (RF) to realize mutual communication between two devices. This technology is often used to connect devices such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones to routers to achieve the purpose of surfing the Internet. In fact, it can also be widely used for connection between any two hardware devices.


The Wi-Fi term refers to a family of wireless standards related to the IEEE 802.11 protocol, specifically the most common and widely used versions being Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and the last released Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi uses two free ISM frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz. However, most IoT applications use 2.4 GHz. Given its higher operating range and properties, it is good enough for most IoT use cases. The Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz band uses 14 channels, each with a bandwidth of 22 MHz, spaced 5 MHz apart, but usually only the first 13 channels are available in Europe.

 Wi-Fi Protocol

Wi-Fi IoT wireless network communication protocol


Some of the main advantages of the Wi-Fi standard are high proliferation and device integration, but most importantly high transmission capacity (11-300 Mbit/s), low latency and operating range sufficient to cover a small house using a single central access point (AP ) as it can easily reach a range of 50 m with obstacles and walls. In a free and open space environment, the operating coverage can reach more than 100m. However, the biggest disadvantage of the Wi-Fi protocol is high power consumption, which makes it only suitable for some specific IoT applications, such as data transmission between gateways, nodes that can be powered from the grid, or have high deep sleep time, such as Solar ESP8266 Based Weather Station

Related products  about ESP8266 :


ZigBee Protocol  


ZigBee technology is an open global standard wireless transmission protocol, which is specially designed for M2M network. This technology not only has low cost and low power consumption, but also has the characteristics of low delay and low duty cycle, which allows the product to maximize the life of its power supply battery, and is an ideal technical solution for many industrial technologies. In addition, the ZigBee module protocol provides 128-bit AES encryption, which supports Mesh ad hoc networks, and allows network nodes to be connected together through wireless transmission through multiple paths.


ZigBee was developed in 2004 as an alternative to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for low-power applications in wireless mesh networks (WMN). Therefore, compared to Wi-Fi, it has extremely low power consumption and extremely low bit rate (20-250 Kbit/s), which is too small for enhanced data transmission between multimedia devices, but for IoT It is enough for the application.


ZigBee nodes are characterized by low power consumption, which allows them to be easily powered by batteries for many years, and their low-power radio transceivers limit the operating range to a small range, usually between 10 and 20 meters . Therefore, the ZigBee protocol is often associated as an alternative to Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy due to its power efficiency, range, and data rate.


Bluetooth low energy Internet of Things wireless network communication protocol


However, given the meshed nature of the protocol, a network of ZigBee devices can easily scale to a range of 100 meters or more when many nodes are involved. However, its popularity is significantly lower than standards such as BLE and Wi-Fi, as the number of devices supporting the technology is limited and it is still mainly confined to the industrial field. Additionally, ZigBee has a slightly higher licensing cost than BLE devices, which is another reason why the standard, while interesting, has not had as big a hit in customer-facing applications as the other two standards.


The most commonly used IoT application scenario for ZigBee modules is smart homes in the field of wireless transmission. This technology can connect multiple devices together at the same time, making it an ideal choice for home network environments. Users can realize mutual communication between devices such as smart locks, lights, robots and thermostats, and add controllers for real-time control. wait.


Long Range IOT Wireless Communication Protocols


LoRa Protocol and LoRaWAN Protocol

 LoRa and LoRaWAN

LoRa wireless technologytransmission protocol


LoRa is the abbreviation of Long Range (Long Range), which belongs to one of the wireless communication technologies, and the transmission rate is relatively low. The LoRa module wireless technology has the characteristics of long distance, low power consumption, low cost, and multi-node.


The LoRaWAN protocol is a set of transmission protocol standards based on the physical layer transmission of LoRa and mainly based on the data link layer. It corresponds to the MAC layer in the OSI seven-layer model. LoRaWAN eliminates the incompatibility of specific hardware and also has Features such as multi-channel access, frequency switching, adaptive rate, channel management, timing sending and receiving, node access authentication and data encryption, and roaming.


LoRaWAN protocol


LoRaWAN is a long-range communication protocol commonly used to create low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) with operating ranges from hundreds of meters to 10 kilometers. It is based on LoRa modulation (PHY layer), while the Media Access Control (MAC) layer is an open network architecture regulated by the LoRa Alliance. The most used large LoRaWAN network is The Things Network with over 10,000 LoRaWAN gateways and 110,000 community members.


LoRaWAN has different classes of end nodes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. All LoRaWAN devices must implement Class A, while Class B and C are extensions of Class A devices. These classes define the behavior of downlink packets from gateways to end nodes. Typically LoRaWAN gateways act as Class C devices since they are always listening for incoming transmissions. Additionally, in order to transmit and receive data over the LoRaWAN network, the LoRaWAN  node must be registered and enabled with the application server provider.



Due to the nature of the LoRaWAN protocol, there are many limitations in terms of payload size, usage policy, and operating range. This is because LoRa modulation is characterized by a spreading factor (SF), which defines the duration of the chirp signal. Increasing the SF increases the symbol time, allowing the signal to travel longer distances. A lower SF allows for higher data rates and less symbol transmission time, while a higher SF allows for the highest transmission range and the lowest data rates, and therefore more power consumption.

NB-IoT(Narrowband Internet of Things ) Protocol

NB-IoT(Narrowband Internet of Things ) Protocol

Nb-iot narrowband transmission protocol is based on cellular narrowband Internet of Things (Narrow Band Internet of Things, NB-IoT) technology has become an important branch of the Internet of Things network. The NB-IoT module is based on the cellular network, only consumes about 180KHz of bandwidth, and can be directly deployed on GSM, UMTS and LTE networks to reduce deployment costs and achieve smooth upgrade functions.


Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) is an LPWAN protocol created by 3GPP focused on indoor coverage for low-power and low-cost IoT applications. As LTE-M, it uses a subset of the existing LTE network managed by many operators to guarantee high connection density over wide areas. NB-IoT uses OFDM modulation for downlink communication and SC-FDMA for uplink communication, while the bandwidth is limited to a single narrow band up to 200 kHz. Given its high link budget, it is primarily intended for urban IoT applications using battery-powered devices such as smart meters.

 LPWAN procotol

Given its very narrow frequency band, it is usually allocated within the guard band of existing LTE networks, using one or more resource blocks of 180 kHz each. Otherwise, it can be deployed as a stand-alone network as a result of one or more GSM carrier frequency reallocation operations. It is a cheaper protocol to implement because it relies on the existing LTE infrastructure of radio base stations. Implementation of the standard requires only a software upgrade to the infrastructure.


It costs more per node than LoRaWAN because each node requires a subscription to an internet service provider, but the overall coverage should be greater and the density of devices per square kilometer higher. Its power consumption is comparable to LoRaWAN, allowing the creation of battery-operated devices that last for years.


NB-IoT is considered a good alternative to LoRaWAN for long range IoT applications and is much better than the old but still used GSM due to its higher efficiency and lower end node cost .


LTE-M Protocol


LTE-M is a low-power wide-area Internet of Things (LPWA) communication standard based on LTE technology, also known as LTE-MTC (LTE-Machine Type Communication). Its full name is Long Term Evolution for Machines, which is a wireless communication protocol specially designed for IoT devices.


The LTE-M standard was first proposed by the 3GPP organization, aiming to provide communication services featuring low power consumption, low cost, and wide coverage for IoT devices. Compared with traditional cellular communication technologies, LTE-M has lower power consumption and wider coverage, and can realize long-distance transmission and communication in various environments such as indoors and outdoors. In addition, because it adopts LTE technology, it has the advantages of high speed and high reliability.


The LTE-M protocol, as a low power wide area Internet of Things (LPWA) communication standard based on LTE technology, has the following characteristics:


1. High rate and low delay: Compared with NB-IoT, LTE-M has a higher rate and lower delay, which can meet the needs of more real-time applications.


2. Wider coverage: Compared with LoRaWAN, LTE-M is better in coverage and indoor penetration, and can realize long-distance transmission and communication in various environments such as indoors and outdoors.


3. Higher reliability and security: Compared with LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, LTE-M has higher reliability and better security, which can better protect the data security of IoT devices.


4. Stronger interoperability: Since LTE-M is developed based on standard LTE technology, it can better interoperate with existing LTE networks and has stronger interoperability.


Compared with LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, LTE-M has the advantages of higher speed, wider coverage, higher reliability, better security, and stronger interoperability. But at the same time, LTE-M also has some limitations, such as high cost and relatively high power consumption.



Wi-Fi HaLow protocol


Wi-Fi HaLowis a Low Power Wide Area IoT (LPWAN) protocol based on Wi-Fi technology, also known as 802.11ah protocol. It was launched by the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2016 to provide IoT devices with longer communication distance, lower power consumption and better penetration.


Refer article :Wi-Fi HaLow and Wi-Fi6 are working together

Plus, it consumes less power than the more commonly used Wi-Fi standards. Given its low power consumption and extended operating range (up to 1 km), it could become an interesting standard for LPWAN IoT applications. However, given the need for new radio equipment, it is rarely used in practice since it uses a completely different frequency than the other versions. Even though HaLow was released in 2016, there are actually almost no products on the market that use this standard. This may be due in part to a lack of global standards, but it may also be due to the existence of competing technologies in the market that better meet the needs of IoT.


The emergence of Wi-Fi HaLow is mainly to solve the limitations of traditional Wi-Fi networks in terms of coverage, power consumption and penetration. It's based on Wi-Fi technology and communicates using low-frequency bands (frequency below 900MHz), which can penetrate walls, buildings, and other objects to provide wider coverage. Compared with other LPWAN technologies, Wi-Fi HaLow has a higher rate and better interoperability, which makes it more suitable for application scenarios that require high-speed data transmission and interconnection.


Key features of Wi-Fi HaLow include:


1. Long-distance communication: Using low-frequency band for communication can achieve longer-distance communication, up to 1 km.


2. Low power consumption: Wi-Fi HaLow uses a series of low power consumption technologies to extend the battery life of the device.


3. High rate: Wi-Fi HaLow supports the highest data transmission rate up to 18Mbps.


4. Strong penetrating ability: low-frequency bands can penetrate objects, enabling Wi-Fi HaLow to provide reliable communication in both indoor and outdoor environments.


5. Wider coverage: Wi-Fi HaLow has wider coverage than traditional Wi-Fi networks, enabling wider application scenarios.


5G Network Protocol


The 5G network protocol is a set of specifications and standards that specify network communication in 5G wireless communication technology. It is actually composed of many different protocols and standards, including wireless access, core network, application layer and other aspects. Among them, the protocols of the 5G wireless access network mainly include the NR protocol and the NG-RAN protocol.

The generation of 5G network protocol is to meet the requirements of future mobile communication technology for higher speed, lower delay, wider coverage, larger number of connections and lower power consumption. The standardization of 5G network protocols is jointly promoted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), and major manufacturers are also actively participating in the development of 5G standards and protocols.

Refer article here :

5G Network Protocol Features


1. Higher rate and lower delay: The new wireless technology used in the 5G network protocol enables it to provide higher rate and lower delay, and can support more application scenarios of high-speed data transmission.


2. Wider coverage and greater number of connections: 5G network protocols can achieve wider coverage and greater number of connections by introducing new frequency bands and antenna technologies to meet the needs of the Internet of Things and large-scale machine communications. .


3. Lower power consumption: 5G network protocol adopts a series of low power consumption technologies, which can extend the battery life of terminal equipment.


4. Stronger security: 5G network protocols have higher security requirements and adopt stricter encryption and authentication mechanisms to protect user privacy and data security.


5. Programmability: 5G network protocols support network programmability, which can be customized according to the needs of different application scenarios.

The choice of a communication protocol depends on the specific requirements of the IoT application, including factors such as power consumption, data volume, range, and network topology. In many cases, a combination of protocols may be used within an IoT ecosystem to address diverse communication needs.