Point to Point Communication Explained

Nowadays, point to point communication becomes an increasingly rare sight amongst telecommunication users. Two nodes directly communicating with each other without any relay or compression of communication data are no longer the norm. While a simple phone call can still be defined as a point to point communication, a VoIP call via. Whatsapp or skype can technically be considered point to multipoint communication, as your data input is first received by a cloud or gateway, which then encrypts and broadcasts your data to its final destination. Understanding the meaning of point to point communication makes it easier to understand the (oftentimes blurred, but fundamental) differences between M2M and IoT networks

What is a point to point communication?

In the context of telecommunication, a point to point communication (also known as P2P) is an established connection between two nodes that can be used to communicate back and forth. The most prominent example of point to point communication is a simple telephone call, where one phone is connected with another, and both nodes can send and receive audio.


Early on in the advent of telecommunication, these P2P connections were established using circuit-switched landlines. However, nowadays point to point communication in modern networks is made possible by complex fiber-optic networks. Different types of P2P connections can transmit different types of information, be it digital or analog signals

Point to point vs. point to multipoint

It is important to distinguish, between these two communication methods, as these terms are frequently used interchangeably. A point to multipoint connection (also known as P2MP) can also be described as a one-to-many connection. While one node remains the same, it can communicate with multiple locations. While most point to point communication applications are used to communicate both ways, P2MP systems are frequently designed without a return channel for the multiple receives to reply back to the sending node. The most common example of such a system is a radio station, which broadcasts its material to multiple nodes using radio frequencies.

Summary of differences between Point to Point and Point to Multipoint


Point to point connection                 Point to multipoint connection
The communication channel of a point to point connection is used by just two devices. The communication channel is used by multiple nodes.
A connection can only be established if both devices are online. A connection can be established at any time, regardless of whether other devices are online.
Network capacity is entirely reserved for the connection between two dedicated devices. The capacity is distributed amongst all connected devices.
One device transmits data, while the other receives it One device transmits data, while many others can receive it. (Broadcasting)
As this is not a shared communication channel, there are much fewer security risks and privacy risks associated with a point to point connection As a shared communication channel, the security and privacy of the connection can be compromised, if not encrypted properly.

Point to point communication with regards to M2M and IoT

While both M2M and IoT have a lot of features and use-cases in common and are all about creating links that drive data-driven solutions across every industry, they are very different when it comes to the nature of their network connection. An IoT network is made up of multiple IoT enabled devices that send or receive data to or from a central cloud. Meanwhile, M2M is a closed point to point communication network where the same type of devices communicate directly, without data being relayed by a third-party node, such as a central cloud, a gateway.

  • Point to point connections paved the way for traditional phone calls during the infancy of the telecommunications era.
  • Nowadays, gateways, clouds, and networks serve as convenient middlemen compress, reformat, encrypt, and relay our transmitted data.
  • Consequently, a direct point to point communication is becoming increasingly rare among telecommunication users.
  • However, in the context of M2M and IoT: Any M2M system utilizes a point to point communication by definition, and this is also the most distinguishing feature compared to IoT systems, whose devices data is first being processed by a cloud or a gateway before being relayed to other devices, such as IoT-enabled actuators.