ArticlesInternet Of Things

Meet MQTT: The HTTP of IoT

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What is MQTT?

MQTT, or Message Queue Telemetry Transport, is an open-source messaging protocol that was designed for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. It was developed by IBM in the late 1990s to provide a lightweight messaging solution for embedded systems. MQTT is designed to establish a connection between a client and a server, where the client sends a message, and the server sends back a response.

MQTT is a publish-subscribe-based messaging protocol. This means that a client can publish a message on a topic, and any other client that has subscribed to that topic will receive the message. MQTT is based on TCP/IP, which ensures the reliable delivery of messages.

The concept of MQTT is fairly simple. A client connects to an MQTT broker (server) and subscribes to one or more topics. When another client publishes a message on a subscribed topic, the broker forwards the message to the subscribing client.

MQTT’s Core Features and Principles

One of the key features of MQTT is its lightweight nature. This makes it ideal for use in devices with limited processing capabilities, such as sensors and embedded systems. Furthermore, it has a small code footprint, which means it requires less memory and storage space.

MQTT uses a publish-subscribe model, which reduces network bandwidth and resource requirements. This is because the client only receives messages it has subscribed to, rather than all messages sent by the server.

Another core principle of MQTT is its Quality of Service (QoS) levels. MQTT offers three QoS levels: At most once (0), At least once (1), and Exactly once (2). These levels allow the client to specify how many times a message should be delivered to ensure its successful reception.

Why MQTT is called “The HTTP of IoT”

The title “HTTP of IoT” is a testament to MQTT’s integral role in the IoT ecosystem. Just as HTTP is the de facto standard for web communications, MQTT is becoming a go-to protocol for IoT communications. There are several reasons why this comparison holds ground.

Firstly, MQTT is simple and robust, much like HTTP. It provides a reliable and straightforward way for devices to communicate, regardless of their location or the quality of their network connection. Secondly, MQTT is lightweight and efficient, making it a perfect choice for IoT applications where devices have limited processing power and bandwidth. Finally, MQTT is flexible and versatile. It supports a wide range of applications, from home automation to industrial IoT applications – much like HTTP, which powers a myriad of web applications.

Further, MQTT’s publish-subscribe model also parallels HTTP’s request-response model, providing a familiar paradigm for developers. In the same way that HTTP has become the backbone of the world wide web, MQTT is quickly becoming the backbone of the IoT world.

The Role of MQTT in IoT

Why MQTT is Suited for IoT Applications

MQTT’s suitability for IoT applications lies in its design philosophy. The protocol was designed to be lightweight, easy to implement, reliable, and efficient in terms of bandwidth usage. These characteristics make it an ideal choice for IoT devices, which often have limited processing power and operate on constrained networks.

MQTT’s publish-subscribe model is also a significant advantage. This model allows devices to communicate without needing to know each other’s IP addresses. It simplifies the communication process and makes it more scalable. Devices can simply publish messages to a topic and any device interested in that topic can subscribe to it. This model allows for seamless communication between a large number of devices, a feature that is crucial in the world of IoT.

Moreover, MQTT’s Quality of Service (QoS) levels provide a mechanism for ensuring message delivery. This is particularly important in IoT applications, where reliable message delivery is critical.

Common Use Cases of MQTT in IoT

There are numerous applications of MQTT in the IoT field, reflecting its versatility and universality. One common use case is in home automation systems. MQTT can be used to communicate between different devices in a smart home – for example, a temperature sensor can publish readings to a topic, and the home’s heating system can subscribe to that topic to adjust the heating accordingly.

In the industrial sector, MQTT is often used to monitor and control machinery. Machines can publish status updates or error messages to a topic, and a central control system can subscribe to these topics to monitor the machines’ status and respond to any issues.

Another use case is in the transportation sector, where MQTT can be used to track vehicles’ locations and status. Vehicles can publish their GPS coordinates to a topic, and a central system can subscribe to these topics to track the vehicles’ movements.

How MQTT Addresses IoT Challenges

IoT presents unique challenges that MQTT is well-equipped to handle. These challenges include the need for efficient bandwidth use, the need to accommodate a large number of devices, and the need for reliable message delivery.

MQTT’s lightweight design and efficient use of bandwidth make it ideal for IoT applications, where devices often have limited processing power and operate on constrained networks. The protocol’s publish-subscribe model enables seamless communication between a large number of devices, addressing the scalability issue inherent in IoT.

In terms of reliability, MQTT’s Quality of Service (QoS) levels provide a mechanism for ensuring message delivery. This is particularly important in IoT applications, where reliable message delivery can be critical. In summary, MQTT’s design characteristics and features make it an ideal solution to the unique challenges of the IoT landscape.


In conclusion, MQTT has emerged as a leading messaging protocol in the IoT ecosystem due to its lightweight design, efficient publish-subscribe model, and support for various Quality of Service (QoS) levels. Whether it’s in home automation or industrial IoT, MQTT plays a critical role in enabling real-time, reliable communication between devices. As the IoT continues to grow, it’s likely that MQTT will continue to play a pivotal role in its development.

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