Internet of Things, IoT, is emerging as a major growth area that holds the answer to this quest. IoT is happening today with leading operators reporting millions of connected devices in their networks. Proprietary low power wide area (LPWA) protocols are leading in the market for providing IoT connectivity while 3GPP wrestles with diverse proposals to arrive at industry standard protocols for IoT in Release 13. The fast emerging ecosystem for IoT has solutions in sight for building low-cost IoT end nodes that can have battery life of >10 years.
A large number of IoT networks and services are expected to be deployed in the next 3-5 years. In order to monetize these IoT networks, operators, existing or new, need to successfully grapple with three key issues. First, operators need to accept existence of both proprietary and standards-based IoT connectivity and prepare for hybrid IoT networks. Second, a focus on connectivity will not be sufficient to monetize 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 is the third issue that is critical for commercialization and broader adoption. Programmable and flexible IoT gateways or hubs supporting multiple radio protocols, intelligent data gathering/ dissemination between Cloud and connected devices, and ensuring up-to-date secure links will play a pivotal role in solving these issues.