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Introduction to MQTT

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is a lightweight messaging protocol designed for efficient communication between devices in a distributed network. It's commonly used in scenarios where low bandwidth, high latency, or unreliable network connections are present.

MQTT operates on a publish-subscribe model, allowing devices to communicate by publishing messages to specific topics and subscribing to topics to receive relevant messages. This section provides an overview of MQTT, its key features, and important terminology.

What is MQTT?

MQTT facilitates the exchange of messages between devices or applications in a decoupled manner. This means that devices don't need to be aware of each other's existence; they communicate through a central broker. The broker manages the distribution of messages to subscribed devices.

In Packet Power terms, MQTT Messages provide a way of transmitting sets (or subsets) of node attributes for a given node. They allow selected node readings to be forwarded to a designated MQTT broker.

MQTT Features and Advantages

  • Lightweight: MQTT minimizes overhead, making it suitable for resource-constrained devices and low-bandwidth networks.

  • Publish-Subscribe Model: Devices publish messages to topics, and subscribers receive messages from specific topics they are interested in.

  • Quality of Service (QoS): MQTT offers different QoS levels to ensure message delivery reliability.

  • Retained Messages: The broker can retain the last message published on a topic, allowing new subscribers to instantly receive the latest information.

  • Last Will and Testament (LWT): Clients can specify a "last will" message that the broker publishes on their behalf when the client disconnects unexpectedly.

  • Compact Message Format: MQTT messages are simple and can be transmitted as text or binary data.

  • Security: Supports encryption and authentication for secure communication.

MQTT Concepts and Terminology

To effectively work with MQTT, it's important to understand its fundamental concepts and terminology. This section introduces key terms that you'll encounter when using MQTT communication.

MQTT Broker

An MQTT broker is a central server that acts as an intermediary between publishers and subscribers. It receives messages from publishers and forwards them to subscribers based on their topic subscriptions. The broker is responsible for managing the distribution of messages, ensuring proper QoS levels, and maintaining topic hierarchies.

Publisher and Subscriber

  • Publisher: The Gateway sends messages to a specific topic on the broker.

  • Subscriber: A device or application such as an MQTT browser that receives messages from a specific topic on the broker.


Topics are string identifiers that categorize messages within the MQTT system. Subscribers can choose to receive messages from specific topics. Topics are structured as a hierarchy, allowing for organized message routing.

Retained Messages

A retained message is a message that the broker retains even after it's been delivered to all current subscribers. When a new subscriber subscribes to a topic, they immediately receive the last retained message for that topic. This is useful for transmitting status updates or configuration information.

Last Will and Testament (LWT)

Clients can specify a "last will" message and a topic. If a client unexpectedly disconnects from the broker, the broker will publish the "last will" message on the specified topic. This helps inform other devices or applications about the client's status.

MQTT Security Considerations

  • Encryption: MQTT communication can be secured using Transport Layer Security (TLS/SSL) to encrypt data in transit.

  • Authentication: Clients can authenticate themselves with the broker using usernames and passwords or client certificates.

  • Authorization: Access control lists (ACLs) can be used to define which clients are allowed to publish or subscribe to specific topics.

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