How IoT will transform the vertical industries sector

Staff writer
07 Jul 2016

Dr. Abdul Memon (pictured), director of solution marketing at Huawei Technologies, discusses how telcos must understand the various requirements of verticals to provide the right IoT solutions, and how this ultimately feeds into the development of smart cities

What role will IoT play in the vertical industries sector?

Dr. Abdul Memon: Different vertical industries need to solve different problems that have been around since Day 1, and try to resolve them in a way that results in efficiency, reliability and bring smooth operability. Actually, since the 1980s, people were already starting to think about M2M/IoT in a vertical context and having specially designed IoT networks for different vertical Industries to suit their requirements.

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Overall, the basic structure of the IoT framework is having sensor/devices, longer battery life for sensors, data accumulation, wireline/wireless access connectivity, security, data storage, applications and data analytics. Deploying IoT apps on mobile networks is generally seen as the next step forward.

This network architecture and business model promotes IoT apps and reduces network investment risks.

What kinds of requirements do verticals have regarding IoT deployment, and how do they differ across various sectors?

Different vertical industries have different connectivity needs based on requirements such as battery life, bandwidth, throughput, density, sensor/device cost, range, and indoor vs outdoor.

Based on the specific vertical industry solution requirements, we may need to tailor the solution with some variations.

In some cases multiple access technologies may be required.

For example, an IoT solution for water utilities would require visibility of water consumption, leak detection, water quality and noise sensing. Meters require longer battery life in years, low bandwidth in bytes, low throughput, stationary, longer range in kilometers, low device cost and mostly outdoors but can be indoors. Low-power wide area (LPWA) networks would be the best fit where we need to cover distances between hundreds of kilometers, a battery life of at least ten years, low cost sensors, modules and smart meters. Low cost is key – if the cost of this solution goes up then there will no business case.

For an intelligent transportation solution to reduce congestion on roads, this requires real-time traffic monitoring via GPS, sensors and cameras. For use cases like dynamic traffic-light control, freight and fleet management, asset tracking and telematics, battery life is not that big a concern, but they do require multiple access networks, medium bandwidth, medium throughput, mobile tracking with GPS and sensors, longer range, and a medium price range for sensors, on-board diagnostics and other devices.

In a similar way we need to work with each vertical market like healthcare, agriculture, etc, to collect the requirements and then design the required IoT networks and applications.

How can telcos deliver IoT solutions to meet those requirements?

The need for improved environment sustainability, efficiency and productivity is coming from a long-awaited concept to reality. Telcos are in the best position to offer IoT solutions in the market. Today telcos are already offering M2M SIM card-based solutions.

Existing GSM/3G/4G networks are not suitable for IoT, but they certainly can be upgraded to support IoT solutions based on 3GPP Rel 13 standards and offer LPWA – i.e. NB-IoT and short-range IoT offerings. Operators need to work with vertical industries to understand the business and technical requirements and offer them the required solutions, which ideally should be based on an IoT network and partner ecosystem.

For example, Huawei’s NB-IoT tech, with low power, deep coverage and big connections can help operators build reliable, low-cost LPWA networks. Our IoT Gateway devices (Smart ONT, AR) help operators to join the short-range market. Our IoT operation system and agent can enable more terminal devices access to IoT networks. Our unified IoT platform can help operators build a single control point for all kinds of applications.

Our connected car solution supports both “pre-install” and “aftermarket” applications. Applications like UBI and Fleet Management can help operators promote their B2B/2C businesses.

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