To begin, what is IoT?
Well, to start, IoT stands for the “Internet of Things.” Its very name suggests an extremely broad scope that generally covers any device that’s connected to the internet. And by “device,” I mean more than laptops, smartphones, or tablets, but also “things” that traditionally don’t have internet connectivity.
To make more sense of IoT, there are two common high-level segments that should be considered—industrial and consumer. Of course, this can be tricky because there isn’t a clear boundary between the two groups, as similar devices can be used in both areas. For instance, you might use a certain smart device to track your car, but a freight company might utilize that same device to track its trucks. A better way to distinguish between the two would be to assess who buys and uses the devices and services (e.g. end consumers vs. businesses), not the actual device itself.
Why is IoT important?
Because the IoT value chain includes devices, connectivity, applications, and services. According to a report entitled “IoT Value Chain Revenue: Worldwide Trends and Forecasts 2016-2025” by Michele Mackenzie and Andrew Cheung, there are estimates that put the value of IoT businesses in the next five or six years at $200 billion (USD) or more, with tens of billions of “things” being connected. For equipment manufacturers, this is an opportunity for a dramatic increase in unit sales. For telecom companies, this is an opportunity not only for a massive increase in connections but also to provide end-to-end solutions and services to grab a larger part of the value chain.
To date, many telecom groups have set up dedicated industrial IoT business units or divisions (e.g. Telenor Connexion, Vodafone). Other telecom companies have acquired IoT-specific businesses. These often target certain industry verticals (e.g. MTData is now a Telstra company). This approach allows telecom businesses to provide end-to-end solutions and take a larger slice of the IoT value chain.
Do you think the world will benefit from IoT?
IoT, in conjunction with Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) as well as 5G technology, will profoundly affect our world. It’ll help drive efficiencies, cost reductions, new services, and revenues across multiple business sectors. Some sectors which are already seeing value adds are:
- Transport, with fleet monitoring, tracking, and optimization
- Manufacturing, with real-time sensors on equipment
- Food industry, with real-time monitoring of livestock, crops, soil, and production facilities
- Smart cities and utilities, with smart meters, lights, parking, and waste management
- Smart buildings, with real-time monitoring and control of building services such as cooling, heating, lighting, and security.
In addition, we’re seeing consumers steadily embrace IoT with AR/VR and smart homes with AI digital assistants as well as smart, connected wearables such as smart watches. Smart speakers with AI digital assistants are also proving particularly effective at driving smart home adoption.
Though they’re still in the early stages of development, autonomous vehicles offer a lot of promise as well. With the tremendous amount of data generated by all of these connected devices, there’s a lot of value and potential associated with the analysis and leverage of this data.
Are wireless companies such as Brightstar playing a role within IoT?
In Canada, Brightstar has a team of engineers that not only test and certify IoT devices to ensure they operate effectively on carrier networks and align with customer specifications, but they can also provide network design services that include LPWAN, which are key to many industrial IoT use cases. Additionally, Brightstar’s Accessories teams already cover a number of connected accessories and devices. This includes smart watches and smart speakers. In fact, Brightstar has started to expand its “second life” business, including pre-owned smart watches, as part of its direct-to-consumer offerings. Furthermore, Brightstar’s Device Protection team has started to build offerings which include extended warranty and protection programs for IoT devices.
I certainly covered quite a bit here, but there’s still a lot to discuss with regard to IoT. To learn more, be sure to visit Brightstar at 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Come by our exclusive Pavilion (Hall 2, Booth 2120) between February 25 and 28.