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Expert predictions for the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) market and the impact these technologies will have on our lives have produced projections of billions of connected things, trillions of dollars in anticipated global GDP growth and hundreds of billions in incremental revenue for organisations. And, as we enter 2018, these predictions grow ever bolder, with Gartner predicting that IoT will be in everything by 2020, with IoT technology in 95% of electronics for new product designs.
Cellular solutions have long dominated large-scale device deployments for the IoT, offering the market scalability, global reach and high bandwidth capabilities. However, for the vast majority of industrial IoT applications, low cost and low power connectivity is essential to the viability of these deployments – hence the industry’s excitement over low power wide area (LPWA) networks.
LPWA is therefore likely to significantly impact the growth of IoT deployments and future innovation, but the reality of delivering LPWA applications at scale, in today’s market, is still severely limited.
IoT and the focus on the internet is counterintuitive at an operational level, because it is not the first technology decision enterprises are considering for their industrial IoT (IIoT) deployments. A decision maker has to consider the connected device first. The connected device and its purpose dictates every other decision which needs to be made regarding the use of connected technology to improve business efficiencies, establish new revenues – or both.
Depending on what your connected device does, massively impacts your choice of connectivity to the internet.
If you are developing a product which transmits sensor data back through your cloud, where perhaps you add value through analytics and proactive business intelligence, you don’t want to limit your market reach by tethering your device to geographically challenged internet technology.
For example, if you manufacture smart meters and you want to expand your business to a global market, it wouldn’t make sense to only connect your thing to the SigFox network, where your market is limited to specific geographic areas of only approximately 32 countries in which SigFox operates. Similarly, you may not want to limit connectivity to just narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) or LTE-Cat1M, as this will again limit your business reach to a currently constrained footprint.
With the current state of the LPWA market, the gains an enterprise can make through using these technologies in lowering total cost of ownership and extending battery life of their device are lost because of the trade-off on coverage, mobility and performance, or they suffer a big increase in management complexity and cost by deploying hybrid solutions.
However, an alternative solution that has all of the benefits of LPWA already exists today based on the capabilities of current GSM and successor networks.
For more on Thingstream's IoT Connectivity Platform