Promise of IoT – the next big application: Page 3 of 4

October 27, 2016 // By Harpinder Singh Matharu, Xilinx Inc.
Continuous evolution of mobile broadband networks and related technologies is critical to address the growing demand for connectivity and bandwidth. It is equally important to incorporate capabilities and mechanisms to monetize the network in order to sustain continued investments. Considering currently deployed services, the LTE based mobile broadband consumer market is approaching maturity and saturation from a revenue standpoint. Targeting new applications, use cases, and markets is a must have to set the stage as the industry embarks to prepare for 5G deployment in 2020.

Programmable and flexible IoT gateways or hubs distributed across the network, as shown in Figure 1, will play a pivotal role. In order to support hybrid technologies, IoT gateways will need to support multiple radio protocols depending on the installation point or service type. System flexibility and agility to harmonize existing proprietary technologies and evolving standards is a critical component for building economy of scales in the ecosystem to augment broader commercialization. Not only intelligent data gathering/ dissemination between Cloud and connected devices but also performing edge compute functions would be necessary in these gateways. For many IoT applications, data may be location specific and meaningful only for a short duration. In many cases, application latency constraints will necessitate distributed data processing. Edge compute and local storage could be essential in IoT gateways to overcome low latency requirements. System functions to secure links to connected devices and Cloud will also be needed in these gateways.

Figure 1: Conceptual diagram depicting role of IoT gateway in IoT network.

In addition to solving critical system issues, IoT gateways can act as test beds for running pilots for new applications and use cases for IoT networks. Instead of waiting for availability of optimal solutions or a complete ecosystem, operators can use these test beds to work closely with the supply chain in defining system requirements. These reasonably well-defined pilot case studies and associated business findings can help steer optimal solutions and network evolution to maximize revenue potential latent in IoT. IoT gateway with sufficient compute can also stimulate open source industry standard application development framework and a development community. Further, support for broadband LTE radio could enhance integrated services for applications such as personal smart phones to control smart homes or vehicular and passenger mobile broadband connectivity.

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