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In this work we propose a new energy efficient and fault tolerant protocol for data propagation in wireless sensor networks, the variable transmission range protocol (VTRP). The basic idea of data propagation in VTRP is the varying range of data transmissions, i.e., we allow the transmission range to increase in various ways. Thus data propagation in our protocol exhibits high fault-tolerance (by bypassing obstacles or faulty sensors) and increases network lifetime (since critical sensors, i.e. close to the control center are not overused). As far as we know, it is the first time varying transmission range is used. We implement the protocol and perform an extensive experimental evaluation and comparison to a representative protocol (LTP) of several important performance measures with a focus on energy consumption. Our findings indeed demonstrate that our protocol achieves significant improvements in energy efficiency and network lifetime.