Unlocking the true value of the Internet of Things

Staff writer
22 Jul 2015

Kenneth Teo Yoke Mun, director of the Solutions Marketing Department at Huawei Southern Pacific, explains why operators need to understand that there’s far more to the value proposition of the IoT than simply connecting stuff

5G/IoT Insights: What overall impact do you think the internet of things (IoT) will have?

Kenneth Teo Yoke Mun: According to IDC, the IoT market today is $800 billion, and will grow threefold to $1.7 trillion by 2020. The IoT will transform our way of life forever - it will alter our daily habits and also the way we do business. The IoT can range from a connected doorbell, wearables, and biochip transponders on farm animals to connected production equipment in a manufacturing plant. It is estimated that within the next few years, there will be more than 35 billion connected devices communicating through the Internet Cloud. IoT systems provide data that offers new insights and as they talk with each other - they develop their own intelligence and can advise users about optimal ways to cooperate with each other and the environment around them. Major players from the appliance industries and monitoring industries (such as health, security, manufacturing, etc) want to be able to manage multiple devices from one application, whether on a smart phone, tablet or others.

Described that way, the IoT is clearly more than the sum of its parts. How can operators understand the true value of their IoT offerings?

IoT is not just about smart devices communicating with each other but also providing information that previously was not visible to the business. Inter-organization and inter-agency collaboration will become more transparent. Based on environment evaluation and customer response, IoT services can help maximize efficient output and reduce the burden of operating costs. Hence these services have the potential to experience significant growth.

The value of IoT is the ability to analyze information collected from endpoints of the IoT subsystem and translate into decision-making processes that are material to the business. The key challenge is how to correlate the enormous amount of data into information for decision-making. The IoT is also expected to generate large amounts of data from various locations that is aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to better index, store and process such data. This is made possible today by cloud computing environments. Cloud providers - private or public - provide the platform to monitor, visualize and analyze vital services.

Many “things” in the IoT don’t need that much bandwidth. To what extent do we need LTE to support it?

It’s true that some IoT applications do not need the higher bandwidths delivered by LTE and 3G, as data rates of a few hundred kbps could meet their needs - for example, utilities applications in metering for energy, water and gas. An LTE extension known as LTE-M aims to address the low power consumption, low cost and greater coverage constraints of M2M communications, whilst allowing current LTE devices to operate normally on the LTE network. LTE-M will be published as an open industry standard by the 3GPP, with an expected released by 2017.

Potential applications of LTE-M include but are not limited to environmental monitoring, smart metering, intelligent parking and home sensors that need high reliability, such as smoke detectors, hazard warning, and fall detection for the elderly.

One global service operator has already introduces this new technology for water meters to fire extinguishers, developed in collaboration with Huawei, Neul and u-blox. It will operate in licensed spectrum, which will ensure performance and reliability as the number of objects and devices needing low power, low bandwidth connections increases.

How does all this play in “smart city” scenarios?

IoT solutions in the area of “Smart City” can alleviate traffic congestion problems, lower noise and pollution and help make cities safer. Smart City spans a wide variety of use cases, from traffic to emergency management, water distribution to waste management, urban security and environmental monitoring. Its popularity is fueled by the fact that many Smart City solutions promise to improve the quality of life of citizens and improve both productivity and efficiency in business environments. Support for and investments in IoT are increasing in momentum from both supply and value chain market players. Service providers need to ready their infrastructure for the tsunami rolling their way.

This article first appeared in Telecom Asia 5G/IoT Insights July edition

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