Going ahead – IoT and 5G
G is all about securely connecting billions of devices faster, with a solid connection, almost anywhere. It will go well beyond the current mobile experience, improving overall service to help usher in the era of Internet of Things, with 1000X network capacity for 100X the number of connected devices and machines.
Over 50 billion connected devices are expected by 2020. As a result, 5G networks must be more scalable, intelligent, and heterogeneous. Technologies such as distributed small cells, massive-MIMO with hundreds of antennas, and centralized base-band processing via CloudRAN, will dramatically increase coverage and data throughput. Networks will need to connect securely through backhaul and optical front haul for processing.
Ways to realise the promise of IoT
The essential steps to jump start development and deployment of new IoT-based services include standardisation, stimulating an open source industry standard application development framework and running pilot case studies. The continuous evolution of mobile broadband networks and related technologies is also critical to address the growing demand for connectivity and bandwidth. And it is equally important to incorporate capabilities and mechanisms to monetise the network to sustain continued investments.
Looking at services already deployed, the LTE-based mobile broadband consumer market is approaching maturity and saturation from a revenue standpoint. Therefore, it is important to target new applications, use cases and markets as the industry prepares itself for 5G deployment in 2020. In this, the IoT is emerging as a major growth area that could hold the answer to this quest.
This is not just for the future; the IoT is happening today with leading operators reporting millions of connected devices in their networks. Proprietary low power wide area (LPWA) protocols are leading the market for providing IoT connectivity while 3GPP wrestles with diverse proposals to arrive at an industry standard for IoT in Release 13. The fast emerging ecosystem for IoT has products in sight for building low-cost IoT end nodes that can have a battery life of more than 10 years.
Many IoT networks and services will be deployed in the next three to five years. To monetise these IoT networks, operators, existing or new, need to grapple successfully with three key issues. First, operators need to accept the existence of both proprietary and standards-based IoT connectivity and prepare for hybrid IoT networks. Second, a focus on connectivity alone will not be sufficient to monetise IoT networks. Comprehensive data analytics will be needed to process data gathered from millions of connected devices to drive new applications and use cases.
IoT network security and reliability form the third issue that is critical for commercialisation and broader adoption.
Programmable and flexible IoT gateways or hubs supporting multiple radio protocols, intelligent data gathering and dissemination between the cloud and connected devices, and ensuring up-todate secure links will play a pivotal role in solving these problems.
The IoT requires low-power long-range communications, asymmetric asynchronous low data rate connectivity, and low-