Have we peaked when it comes to IoT?
At the recent IoT Expo show, held in London Electronic Specifier’s Anna Flockett got the chance to catch up with Gemalto’s M2M Manager, Neil Bosworth who is involved with IoT projects from start to finish. Having been in the industry for a number of years, specifically with Gemalto for nine years Bosworth is an expert in this area and has been on the front line of the M2M industry since 2006.
“Being in the industry, I have seen almost everything trying to be connected to the internet, but now we are in a time of huge change with IoT,” Bosworth explained, and when I asked him if the industry and the Internet of Things (IoT) has peaked, he replied, “Absolutely not.”
He explained: “The mobile network operators are introducing new technologies in order to facilitate IoT, whereas traditionally when you use your mobile phone it has used 2G, 3G or 4G, which are technologies designed for people to use machines and to speak. But now the IoT industry has adopted these standards and made it so they now connect machines to the Internet.”
Network operators have now realised everyone who is going to purchase a mobile phone already has one, so what is the next big thing for them to connect to? Bosworth answered: “Of course there is a number of machines, and they have introduced new standards purely to be used by machines and not people. These are called the MTC, Machine Type Communication technologies, and it is the first time the network operators have ever done it.”
You can imagine with the older technologies of 2G, 3G and 4G players like Apple and Samsung have been the people that really needed this to work Bosworth explained, “I mean these are the people with giant R&D budgets who would work hand in hand with the network operators to thoroughly test it. But in IoT there are no Apple or Samsung its much smaller companies, and therefore it is going to take time for these new network standards to become stable, they need to evolve over time.”
The challenge device makers are facing today is that network operators are announcing the end of 2G and 3G, Bosworth explained. “But this is different in every country and is happening at different times. However, they’re also announcing the deployment of new technologies such as narrow band IoT and LTE, but they’re not exactly being clear where and when they’re deploying these technologies, and definitely not being clear when they will be turning off the old technologies.”
Its making life very difficult in terms of picking the correct technology to put into the devices, as Bosworth says no one really where knows what they are going to pick, and where they are going to put it.
When it comes to excelling in the IoT industry, Bosworth says the biggest deplorers are in the automotive industry. “The companies; the car makers there is a huge growth here, and also in energy management, so smart metering manufacturers. Today they are the high volume players that get the attention.”
“But there will be new technologies specifically for cars, and once every gas and electricity meter becomes connected then what next? There could be something massive that comes along next, unexpected,” Bosworth shared, but he didn’t believe that would be from one single dominant player because these industries are so diverse. “Not one company can make everything.”
Bosworth continued by saying he does think the consumer way will grow with connected devices and smart gadgets for the home, such as smart lightbulbs, but the real IoT use case is about carrying useful information so it can be shared and increase efficiencies etc. “But again I don’t think there will be one company who takes the lead in every aspect, so it will always be something that will be shared.”
Will networks of the future solve the global connectivity problem?
“Eventually, because they will have to,” Bosworth laughed. “If we refer back to the old 2G networks, back then there was four frequency bands that covered the whole world on a relatively simple connection technology,” Bosworth explained that it was fine because everyone got used to that.
But of course people want the same benefits they had 15 years ago, and currently they are having to live without it, Bosworth added: “Clearly it is not working the way things are right now, and with these new technologies and all these chipsets that support them and software defined radio, it is starting to become possible now to make global devices.”
The problem here is the global devices can only connect and work if it exists in that country. Bosworth elaborated on this: “Eventually I think all the network operators will at some point have fully adopted the new technologies, but they have not yet.”
“It will take a few years to deploy everywhere, and it will then take a few years for it to become stable for us, and this is for the people who make these devices, make or break. These devices need to be made adaptable to a network that is ever changing, so it is a tough challenge.”
Naturally everyone wants these technologies to be deployed a lot quicker than is feasibly possible. Bosworth concluded: “People really want they had 15 years ago, but just with the benefits of what these new technologies can bring, and people want it now because it is holding us back is the grand scheme of things.”