As of today, most appliances on the Internet of Things (IoT) are not too demanding for the existing network bandwidth. Most of them just share simple data that require only few bytes to transfer from one device to another. In fact, only 1% if the total network bandwidth is used by the IoT devices. However, 3G and 4G networks that commonly support the IoT are built for a large volume of data traffic, such as services for video-streaming and web browsing. So bandwidth is not the problem – it’s the price. The economics of the IoT is a challenge for wireless providers and this problem will only grow over time as the number of connect devices is growing every day.
So it’s possible that we will need a new and inexpensive IoT-dedicated network. Wi-Fi is a cheap solution but it can only be used within the home or office, or any confined area. But for IoT devices, the connection should be available everywhere. For example, Qualcomm, a leading telecommunications and wireless products and services company, is working on a new long-range, low-powered Wi-Fi standard. Such a network could allow IoT devices to stay connected over a longer distance and with lower costs.
Let’s have a look at this situation from different angles.
Existed networks can’t take care of a growing IoT
According to forecasts form Cisco, the economic value of the IoT will be more than $14 trillion by 2022, so we’ll see an increasing in the number of devices connecting to the network. Wearable devices, like Apple Watch, Motorola Moto 360, Google Glass, and other applications and devices for mobile video will continue to hit the market.
As more content is produced and shared, we’ll see a need for constant Internet connectivity rather than the connect-as-required model that exist today. Some specialists emphasize that we will need a new network for the needed increased bandwidth.
For example, the French startup SigFox has announced that it’s building a nationwide cellular network in Belgium that is designed for IoT devices. Such efforts could solve the bandwidth problems by making sure that the increased numbers of IoT devices do not overload the network.
Use existing networks to solve the connectivity problem
Some specialists have an opposite solution: rather than creating new, dedicated networks, it’s better to modify and upgrade those currently in operation.
For example, Suke Jawanda, CMO of Bluetooth SIG, thinks that the IoT network is unnecessary and actually counterproductive. He says that new network protocols could mean that machines would no longer be able to communicate with each other. Jawanda suggests that three existing networks – mobile cellular networks, local Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart Personal Networks – will be sufficient enough, they should just be modified.
Dealing with the future of the IoT
There are a number of organizations and alliances where lots of discusions about the future of the IoT are held. For example, the IPSO Alliance promotes the value of using the Internet of Protocol for the networking of Smart Objects and invests in companies developing those devices.
The IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – is another place to watch for news from the IoT world. This organization mainly focuses on developing a comprehensive definition of the IoT itself and its standards.
Also it’s interesting to follow Thread Group. Thread is a Google-based consortium (from this week – Alphabet’s) that develops a new wireless protocol to supply Wi-Fi and other current technology standards. Knowing Google’s position to the connected home and the resources it operates, and the number of companies already represented in Thread Group, the results could be really notable.
- How Google, Facebook and SpaceX Change Internet (softheme-blog-2017)