Signal storms ahead
With the rise of smartphones and the unquenched appetite for mobile video, the mobile industry is already stretched to deliver. But the signs are that the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will shift the challenge to a whole new level – not only in terms of the number of end points but also the increasing diversity and management complexity.
To take just one new addition to the IoT landscape: Beecham Research suggests that there could be nearly 350 million connected cars by 2020. Note that each connected car requires not just one but a host of connectivity services, each with their own traffic protocols, levels of criticality and SLA requirements. There will be familiar demands such as Internet connectivity for browsing and emails, then voice services, location services, vehicle and engine monitoring and extremely critical “driverless” or crash avoidance applications.
Overall Gartner estimates some 26 million connected devices, and Machina Research estimates around 2 billion cellular M2M connections – all by 2020 just four years ahead.
These are staggering numbers and yet they can all be accommodated and emulated by test systems such as Landslide. Such scalability will become very important, when you consider the factors involved.
Quite apart from sheer network congestion, there will be even more extreme variation in types of traffic and their demands. Probably the most widespread initial uptake will be among smart meters, but also alarm systems and domestic and office environmental monitors. These systems typically offload their traffic to wi-fi, and only turn up 3G or 4G connections if that fails. So what happens when a district experiences a major power cut and thousands of devices immediately log in to the carrier network? Such signal storms are not unprecedented, but they could arise in many new and unexpected ways.