What Do We Really Need to for the IoT to be Successful?

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) will take us to more and more places, connecting disparate devices will happen far more quickly, and 5G and similar future standards will take us there even faster.  However, will we be able to manage our IoT world when we get there.  Or will the IoT world be managing us?

For the IoT to be useful, the broadband capacity must exist and be in place.  The devices or ‘things’ will continue to get smarter.  The importance of a quick connection is only going to increase.  But, what intelligence-based managed services are going to be required, developed, and offered so that the ‘things’ we connect will have the ability to know their place (so-to-speak) with respect to the importance of other ‘things’ or devices?

We can claim that we live in a 4G world, but the truth is that most devices seldom near 4G’s maximum download speed.  It is likely because the signal can be so easily disrupted by so many different things in our world: mountains, buildings, microwaves, other WiFi signals. The degree to which either satellite or 5G will be the life-blood to make the IoT more than a buzz-word, I do not know.  As a standard, 5G will need to be optimized for not only wireless connections built specifically to keep up with the proliferation of devices, but that those devices will need to be more mobile than ever.   that need a mobile, not merely wireless internet connection.

Does 5G eliminate the inherent limitations caused by the same disruptive forces negatively impacting 4G today?  Now that companies have added ‘Long Term Evolution’ or LTE to 4G connectivity, it has become the fastest and most consistent variety of 4G compared to competing technologies like WiMax. While the differences between WiMax and LTE is somewhat analogous to the difference between Blu-Ray and HD DVDs, both technologies achieve similar outcomes, with similar limitations due to disruption forces.

Everybody loves super-fast internet, so it’s no surprise that every major telecom in the world is working to make it even faster, again, how satellite technologies can either enhance or disrupt these major telecoms is a ‘wait and see’ for me. Smartphones, watches, homes, and cars are increasingly requiring stable internet connections, however, as we know, speed and stability are not ubiquitous.  In order to pipe in enough bandwidth for that precious IoT to become something of actual value, we’re going to need an entirely new form of wireless signal.  Is that where satellite and 5G comes in?

As I understand it, 5G will build on the same foundation that was created by 4G LTE.  It’s going to allow people send texts, make calls, and browse the web as always—and it will dramatically increase the speed at which data is transferred across the network.  I am sure 5G will make it easier for people to download and upload Ultra HD and 3D video.  It might also make room for the thousands of internet-connected devices entering our everyday world. 5G is claimed to increase download speeds up to 10 gigabits per second.  I am told that is significant enough that it will be noticeable.

But what about reliability and stability, both measures to ensure a greater pervasiveness.  But, the IoT will require far more sophistication than that alone.  Wireless broadband giving the capacity needed to power thousands of connected devices that reach and span our workplaces, homes, entertainment venues, and most notably, the future of affordable healthcare, will not be enough.  Intelligence must also be a key ingredient for the IoT to actually make a valued difference in the real world versus the world of PowerPoint decks and conference panel discussions.

Broadband, at any speed and by any measure of reliability, cannot take the place of the intelligence what will be required to make the IoTs revolutionary.  Not all of the “Things” intended in the catch phrase Internet of Things can, will or should be created equal.  Should my Xbox be given the same access, speed, and priority as my grandmother’s heart monitor or blood glucose meter?  Of course not.  But, how will the network know which is most important?  Will the devices or things be pre-coded or rated in advance to establish its prioritization on a given network?  Should we expect that prioritization to be the same for identical devices, but on a different network?

As I see it, for the IoT to add value to our lives and improve margins from our businesses, something somewhere will be required to manage the IoT.  The broadband providers will form consortia, standards bodies have already begun their works, and manufacturers are already making smart-er appliances, and smart electrical outlets are waiting for the ground-swell of buyers to retrofit their homes and offices.

In the past, when a new mobile wireless technology comes along, it’s assigned a higher radio frequency. For instance, 4G occupies the frequency bands up to 20 MHz. In the case of 5G, it will likely sit on the frequency band up to 6GHz.  The problem with this is that that higher frequency signals don’t travel as far as do the lower frequencies, so multiple input and output antennas (same principals as modems I think) will probably be needed to boost signals anywhere 5G is offered.  I am not sure how this addresses signals that don’t travel as far, and yet can still be so easily disrupted by buildings, microwaves, other WiFi signals.   The boosters will not have an impact on this limitation will it?

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Timothy Gendreau is a Revenue Strategist at The Gendreau Group

Timothy is an expert in developing new revenue strategies to produce real and sustainable revenues and enhance a company’s valuation