Modules, Connectivity, Platforms

IoT vs. M2M: What Are the Differences?

February 13, 2023

Start the First Mile of IoT with OneEdge. Request a project review.

From M2M to IoT 

Just as ARPANET laid the foundations for the internet, machine-to-machine communication (M2M) was the bedrock for the Internet of Things (IoT). Understanding the differences between IoT and M2M is vital to determine the best applications of these solutions. 

What Is IoT? 

IoT is one of the most prolific technologies in the modern world. It supports numerous solution ecosystems across nearly all industries (e.g., commercial doorbells and citywide streetlights). These connected devices collect, store and share data over the internet through sensors and actuators to unlock actionable insights. It is apt to consider IoT as the latest outgrowth or evolution of M2M. 

What Is M2M? 

M2M communication goes back to before the invention of the internet, serving as the standard technology in telemetry and remote control systems. M2M describes two or more machines or devices communicating via wired or wireless mechanisms without internet or human involvement. The most archetypical example of M2M technology is an ATM. It is also used in manufacturing, automation and security processes.   

Comparing IoT vs. M2M 

While IoT and M2M are similar, there are definitive distinctions in their capabilities. 


  • Possesses smart devices that can perform complex tasks or even autonomous decision-making 
  • Suitable for complex, cloud-based network connectivity 
  • Uses both hardware and software and is easy to evolve 
  • Highly scalable    
  • Highly interoperable systems 
  • Can connect machines over various networks and internet 
  • B2C and B2B use cases 


  • Some degree of intelligence but not the same level as modern IoT solutions 
  • Mostly conceived and designed for point-to-point communication 
  • Not dependent on an internet connection 
  • Uses both hardware and software but is more static and limited, making updates difficult  
  • Not highly scalable 
  • Closed systems and architectures  
  • Can only connect machines within the same network 
  • Usually B2B applications 

What Are the Advantages of IoT vs. M2M? 

When thinking about the advantages of IoT over M2M, it’s critical to remember that M2M is IoT’s predecessor. Despite their differences, the latter could not exist without the former. 

One of the IoT and M2M differences is that IoT enables greater flexibility and scalability than M2M.

IoT and M2M Differences 

M2M is limited in scope and requires cellular or wired networks (including non-IP legacy protocols) to function. However, IoT leverages open-ended IP-based networks and can natively and easily transfer data to cloud-based environments.     

IoT is also more scalable and flexible, providing greater interoperability. M2M is limited in its integration possibilities, as it can only connect machines within the same network. IoT does not have this same restriction. 

IoT extracts more valuable insights from devices, allowing for better decision-making. M2M is typically less secure than IoT connections as it predates the emergence of the global cybercrime era. 

IoT M2M Connectivity 

Despite IoT’s benefits, it depends on internet or cellular connection to operate. M2M devices usually do not need direct access to an internet connection. They also utilize non-IP or proprietary protocols over wired or wireless networks for connectivity. Early cellular M2M devices used SMS and resources in the cellular network’s control channel to communicate.  

What Is M2M in IoT? 

A protocol that helped the rise of M2M is known as Lightweight Machine-to-Machine or LwM2M. The LwM2M communication protocol, developed by the Open Mobile Alliance (now OMA SpecWorks), allows users with remote IoT-embedded devices to:  

  • Run diagnostics  
  • Perform tasks on the edge 
  • Facilitate device management  
  • Simplify data interoperability 

Since its introduction, LwM2M has improved interoperability in IoT use cases. As a result, it has become the easy choice for conditions-based IoT monitoring. The evolution of LwM2M has positioned it perfectly for resource-constrained devices and low-powered 4G IoT deployments. 

We Can Help You Succeed with IoT 

We have leveraged the strengths of LwM2M to enhance the reach of our solutions and services, including OneEdge™, our secure software stack. Regardless of scale or size, our IoT connectivity tools and resources can get your deployment to market fast. 

Speak with an IoT expert to review your project and get started with the right tools.