IoT Bytes

Bits and Bytes of IoT


Pradeep Singh | 29th March 2016

mqtt_client_brokerWhat is it?

MQTT or Message Queuing Telemetry Transport is a publish-subscribe based lightweight messaging protocol for use on top of the TCP/IP protocol. It is best suited for Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M)communication because of its small code footprint, lower bandwidth requirements and lower power consumption on device.

Quick Video:


Andy Stanford Clark (IBM) and Arlen Nipper (Cirrus Link Solution / Eurotech) invented MQTT in 1999. Originally it was supposed to be used for connecting oil pipelines over satellite links (Link). Later in 2010 it was released royalty free.

MQTT Broker:

The MQTT broker is primarily responsible for receiving all messages, filtering them, decide who is interested in it and then sending the message to all subscribed clients. Following are main tasks performed by MQTT Broker –

  • Accepts Network Connections from Clients.
  • Accepts Application Messages published by Clients.
  • Processes Subscribe and Unsubscribe requests from Clients.
  • Forwards Application Messages that match Client Subscriptions.

MQTT Client:

A MQTT client is any device from a micro controller up to a full fledged server, that has a MQTT library running and is connecting to an MQTT broker over any kind of network. A MQTT client can be both a publisher & subscriber at the same time. Following are main tasks performed by MQTT Client –

  • Publish Application Messages that other Clients might be interested in.
  • Subscribe to request Application Messages that it is interested in receiving.
  • Unsubscribe to remove a request for Application Messages.
  • Disconnect from the Server.

Standard Organization – OASIS and ISO:

On October 29th 2014 MQTT was officially approved as OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) Standard. You can find all the details about MQTT3.1 at OASIS Page for MQTT.

MQTT is also documented under ISO standard (ISO/IEC PRF 20922). You can find more details at website.

Protocol Features:

  • Simple to implement / Small Code Footprint
  • Lightweight and Bandwidth Efficient
  • Publish/Subscribe Model
  • 1-to-Many Messaging
  • hierarchical topic structure and wildcard subscriptions
  • Provide a Quality of Service (QoS) Data Delivery
  • Data Agnostic
  • Continuous Session Awareness


  • Connect  – Connect to MQTT Broker
  • Subscribe – Suscribe to a MQTT Topic
  • Publish – Publish a message to MQTT Topic
  • UnSubscribe – Unsubscribe from a MQTT Topic
  • Disconnect – Disconnect from MQTT Broker

Other Key Terms:

Client ID – The client identifier (short ClientId) is an identifier of each MQTT client connecting to a MQTT broker.

Keep Alive – The keep alive is a time interval, the clients commits to by sending regular PING Request messages to the broker. The Broker responds back with PING Response to each PING Request.

Last Will Topic and Last Will Message – MQTT Client may (Optional) send these two variables to Broker with CONNECT Message. In case of unexpected Client disconnection, the Broker will send “lastWillMessage” to all the Clients subscribed to Topic set in “lastWillTopic”.

Retain Flag – MQTT Client can set retainFlag in PUBLISH message. The Broker will store the last retained message and the corresponding QoS for that topic. New clients that subscribe to that topic will receive the last retained message on that topic instantly after subscribing.

Clean Session – MQTT Client can set cleanSession in CONNECT message. This flag indicates to the broker, whether the client wants to establish a persistent session or not. A persistent session (CleanSession is false) means, that the broker will store all subscriptions for the client and also all missed messages, when subscribing with QoS 1 or 2.


MQTT has defined three levels of Quality of Service (QoS) –

QoS Value Detail
0 At most once delivery – The broker/client will deliver the message once, with no confirmation (fire and forget).
1 At least once delivery – The broker/client will deliver the message at least once, with confirmation required.
2 Exactly once delivery – The broker/client will deliver the message exactly once by using a four-step handshake.

Learning Resources:

Official Pages:
Cloud Based MQTT Brokers for Quick Testing –
Free / Open Source MQTT Brokers –
  • Mosquitto – An open source (EPL/EDL licensed) message broker.
  • HiveMQ – Available for private use for free.

2 thoughts on “MQTT

  1. Hi Pradeep
    Nearly nice tutorials your have. i want to can 1 MQTT Broker can handle 1 Lakh IOT devices. Actually Im going to launch a product in market soon so thats why im asking is good to have MQTT in cloud servers so that it can handle 1 lakh+ request at a time.

    Bharat Sood

    Liked by 1 person

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