The Internet of Things is about to have a break through. Before we know it, everything will get a chip or a sensor – a bit of software code and connectivity. Even the dumbest stuff, such as office chairs, car brake discs or soda bottles will become smart and communicative. The volume of data that will flow around the world will explode. But is the network ready?
Is your cat already on the internet? No, we’re not talking about Instagram. Don’t be surprised if in a few years time your Felix gets an implanted chip. You probably already know these chips can keep track of their whereabouts – but they can also monitor his health, and supply a menu that best fits his physical condition. This technology is expected to skyrocket so much that analysts say the number of devices (or pets, for that matter) with an internet connection will in two year’s time surpass the amount of smartphones. That’s going to push the number of connected devices to 28 billion – 4 times the world population.
With all these advances, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be categorized in two ways: Massive and Critical. The first, Massive Scale IoT, refers to devices that generate small data traffic and come with low costs for outlay and running. Typical IoT devices in this category are applied in ‘simple’ conditions (e.g. temperature sensoring) and in remote or hard to access places. After installation, they must run unattended for a long perod of time. Therefore, their power and communication consumption needs to be very low. Think of smart buildings, transport logistics, fleet management, smart meters and agriculture. These devices are suited to wide area networks via a common gateway. They will communicate through LoRa (Long Range), WiFi, Mesh or other light protocols.
The second category, that of Critical IoT, includes traffic safety, autonomous cars, industrial applications, remote manufacturing and healthcare – even remote surgery. Critical IoT comes with large volumes of data that need to be transported with low latencies and that require high-availability networks. In some cases, the secure and reliable data transmission is a matter of life and death. Just imagine a self driving car at high speed suddenly unable communicate with the cars around it. Or that your cat Felix that crosses the road just in front of that car…
Critical IoT is best served by cellular G5/LTE technologies. Cost, however, could be a stumbling block for cellular. While the sensors are cheap and getting cheaper, the rest of it – such as mobile bandwidth – isn’t. Compared to other technologies like LoRa, cellular is expensive. But, on the other hand, users are willing to pay for secure, available communications if their life or business is at stake. That is one of the reasons telecom operators around the world have stepped up their experiments and deployments of LTE or G5. There is money to be made with Critical, cellular IoT.
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