As we continue into 2016, let's talk about the final two Bulls predictions for the year.
5. Satellite services will gain an expanded role in M2M.
Satellite has long been a relatively quiet player in the connected landscape, used largely for specific case situations requiring cross-oceanic travel and when devices get placed or travel through extremely rugged, remote locations. While those same credentials may still apply today to the lion’s share of satellite demand, the fact is a far greater proportion of applications revolve around tightly managed assets on a highly dispersed basis. As M2M and Internet-of-Things deployments continue to grow in size and stature, and with so many variables now in play to manage native and roaming cellular connections, satellite will soon stand out as the “best TCO” option for low latency, wide reach requirements.
Satellite services also have higher potential to produce operational excellence in the supply chain. In a recent survey of supply chain risk, 80 percent of companies that “do not yet have any operational technologies” in place cite handling and transfer risks as their most significant challenges (shipments, damaged, stolen, spoiled, late, and so on). 2016 will be a year when satellite emerges as a life boat for these supply chain challenges.
6. We will see significant progress in standardizing Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks on licensed spectrum, and the development could be a lynchpin to high-value, exception-based applications like smart city infrastructure fulfilling its potential.
To date, many players have tried to provide connectivity options for low power, exception-based sensor devices. Largely, these attempts have failed because, in effort to be inexpensive, they often made use of unlicensed spectrum and the result has been a series of disparate, proprietary and fragmented solutions that ultimately haven’t done anybody any good.
But, when we see that in late 2015, standards for creating LPWA networks on licensed spectrum were accepted by 3GPP, it gives great indication that the Wild West nature of this market may move quickly in a more ubiquitous, interoperable, disciplined and secure direction.
To be sure, the availability of non-cellular networks to specifically support lower cost connectivity and longer battery life in devices across wide coverage areas dramatically alters the economics for a wider swath of IoT devices and scenarios to come online. LPWA provides a path toward device commoditization, and that’s really where we need to be in order to, in effect, “bake connectivity into the concrete” without much regard for future access or replacement.
Heading the list applications to benefit first from this development are items like security alarms, electrical metering, and a host of smart city infrastructure items that have been mostly held up to date by cost of deployment: intelligent buildings, roadways, parking systems, traffic systems, streetlights and evolved refuse management may all find their way forward with the dawn of a standardized LWPA.
When it comes down to it, the multifarious projections for “Hundreds of billions of connected devices by 2020” we’ve heard over the years refer mostly to devices that can, and should, flow through LPWA.
Please stay tuned later this month, where we’ll discuss areas of connected industry that are likely to chart a much flatter course in 2016.