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“Internet of things” hits Oxford English Dictionary. Are we official, now?

Posted by Norman Miglietta on 09/13/2013

Let us send this one up to the “In case you missed it” department, since this happened while many of us were likely on a final summer vacation for labor day1 when the official keepers of the English Language at Oxford added a number of buzzworthy words to its incomparable pages, chief among them the “Internet of things.”

Internet of things (noun) - A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. If one thing can prevent the Internet of things from transforming the way we live and work, it will be a breakdown in security.

Candidly, we wish we could have been involved in the defining process as this one seems to have an Op-Ed opinion added to it that I find somewhat unusual in the context of an objective definition, but that’s just me. Quite frankly, security is just one of a number of challenges that face us in delivering on the promise of the IoT or M2M as we prefer to call it.

As far as security is concerned, the market continues to blend “network connectivity” and “Internet connections” together as one, and we believe this creates a fundamental confusion about what the Internet of things really is. As a case in point, the example sentence used in the Oxford entry alludes to security questions about dumb, connected devices becoming a future target of malicious Internet activity. The definition assumes that the Internet of things functions in the same manner as the Internet that we use every day. This is not the case.

The Internet of things infrastructure really doesn’t allow for open access, by design. Machine devices will add significantly to the access doorways into the Internet, to be sure, just as increasing delivery of smartphones does, but there is an important difference. Smartphones typically have open access, with their own individual addresses. But an M2M environment (consisting of Internet of things devices) is quite closed. It is not an extension of the Web into these devices, but rather the devices use dedicated network access (cellular, satellite) to route data solely to and from a specific network resource. And with this data routing comes a quite complex process for ingress to, and egress from those domains. In addition, the streams are often layered with security processes from encryption to SSL support, depending on the application.

Put another way, there are architectural differences in the M2M platform that transcend the level of how humans communicate over the Internet. To call it an Internet of things is actually a misnomer.

While the train has left the station for nomenclature, we certainly hope that the lexicographical Oxford English Dictionarystakeholders come to recognize these significant differences and adjust the definition’s wording accordingly. In the meantime, we will continue to make our partners and customers aware of the ways these respective “Internets” are not the same.

What I failed to mention in all this is that our industry moniker received official recognition in the lexicon on the same day as words such as selfie and srsly, but we’ll leave that alone for now.

1 Not me, though. I was busy at the M2M Evolution Conference in Las Vegas. Check back here shortly for my write-up and my impressions from the show floor.



By Stein Soelberg, Director of Marketing

Stein leads a team whose responsibility is to own the branding, advertising, customer engagement, loyalty, partnership and public relations initiatives designed to propel KORE into the 21st century. With over 15 years of technology marketing experience in the business to business software, Internet services and telecommunications industries, Stein brings a proven track record of launching successful MVNOs and building those brands into leaders.

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