IoT Connectivity Protocols

Many choices for IoT connectivity protocols

A variety of IoT connectivity protocols are available today. Therefore, there is a lot of confusion about which protocols should be adopted. In this post, we help you understand the most well-known IoT connectivity options quickly so that you can make an informed choice amongst them.

Image of a night-time cityscape. A smart city uses many different IoT connectivity protocols. And this complexity will continue to grow.
Image of a night-time cityscape. A smart city uses many different IoT connectivity protocols. And this complexity will continue to grow. [Photo by Jesse Collins on Unsplash]

Data rates, communication range and use cases for different IoT connectivity protocols

Not all protocols are designed equal. They solve for different use cases and optimize over a variety of factors including, but not limited to, range, throughput, reliability, etc. Therefore, we present a brief capture of these different protocols to help you understand the options available. Feel free to reach out to us by clicking here if you would like to hire us for a specific IoT project.

IoT Connectivity Protocols in Alphabetical Order

  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) – suitable for small amount of data (~1Mbps) over short-range (~100m). Consumer devices connectivity with phone.
  • Cellular – Medium data rates (35kbps to 10Mbps depending on which bands and technologies are used) over long distances (30km to 200km depending on technologies used and cost). Obvious choice where devices are in unmanaged environments (smart bus stop sign, displays, etc).
  • LoRaWan – Small data rates (0 – 50 kbps) over medium ranges (2-15km) is another credible choice for IoT sensors deployed in open areas.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) – Small data rates (100kbps to 420kbps) over extremely short range (~2-4 cm) makes NFC the choice for device to device secure handshake because physical proximity is required for NFC.
  • Sigfox – Tiny data rates (10-1000bps) over medium distances (~2-30km depending on urban versus rural environments) makes it a good choice for low power monitoring scenarios in open areas.
  • WiFi – large data rates (up to 600Mbps, 150-200Mbps typical) over short range (~50m). Large data rates makes it an obvious choice for a very large variety of use cases both in home and in industrial settings.
  • Zigbee 3.0 / IEEE802.15.4 – Short range (~10-100m) with small data rates (~250kbps). Robust, scalable (number of devices) and can be secured better for use in industrial settings. 
  • Z-Wave – suitable for small data packets (rate ~100kbps) over short range (~25-30m) with low latency. Home automation devices. Full mesh capability without coordinator node.

IoT Connectivity Protocols in Order of Communication Range

In terms of communication range needed, these protocols can be roughly ordered as below (from shortest to longest ranges).

  • NFC
  • Z-Wave
  • BLE
  • Zigbee 3.0
  • WiFi
  • LoRaWan
  • Sigfox
  • Cellular

Many other factors to consider

There are many other nuances to consider before choosing amongst  IoT connectivity protocols available today. Therefore, it is important to have the right partner help you architect, design and implement the IoT initiative for your organization.

Example of such factors include factors like:

  • Data rates
  • Range of communications
  • Cost
  • Battery or grid
  • Power consumption
  • Overlapping data
  • Standby battery life

We provide end to end consulting for IoT projects. If you would like to discuss your IoT application with us, you can reach us here.