Sam Coleman

Smartphones take a back seat to IoT proliferation

In Blog post by Sam Coleman

As IoT devices get set to outpace smartphones and tablet devices, bandwidth demands and mobile security become critical for telecom operators.

Once upon a time, the conventional wisdom spoke of smartphones and tablets demanding more and more data demands on mobile connectivity. As such, telecoms worked vigorously to get capacity and its 4G data pipe sufficiently widened to accommodate that projected demand; a sigh of relief could be heard by mobile operators as bandwidth a tidal wave was averted. Then came the realization that IoT devices would be more ubiquitous, be even more prolific than smartphones. And the race is on again. “IoT is now accelerating as device costs fall and innovative applications emerge,” declares Rima Qureshi, SVP and chief strategy officer of Ericsson to Enterprise Innovation. “From 2020, commercial deployment of 5G networks will provide additional capabilities that are critical for IoT, such as network slicing and the capacity to connect exponentially more devices than is possible today,” he adds, openly calling on telcos to be aware of this burgeoning demand. His analysis falls in line with industry forecasters who say the present 4.9 billion (Cisco’s recent Visual Networking Index) and possibly 6.4 billion (Gartner) IoT devices will explode in the coming years. Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to grow 23% annually, of which cellular IoT is forecast to have the highest growth rate. Of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices with Gartner predicting 20 billion IoT devices and Juniper putting that figure even higher at whopping 38 billion. Within two years IoT will be the “single greatest source of data on the planet,” said Neil Postlethwaite in CIO Drive, director of IBM Watson IoT Foundation platform and Device Ecosystem Offering Management. And a massive amount of them—from IoT in cars that use mobile data for diagnostics and other onboard systems to home device connectivity—will demand greater infrastructure from mobile operators. That’s especially so in terms of security; what many cite as a critical here-and-now need as urgent as bandwidth increase. “In 2016, we’ll need to begin grappling with the security concerns these devices raise—having your Target account hacked is one thing, your car or home-security camera is another entirely. We’ll have to understand the sheer volume and intimacy of the data we’re handing over as we go about our hyper-connected lives, and hold our leaders and executives accountable for what they do with that data,” David Pearce has stated forcibly in wired.com.

As this explosion happens—at whatever pace—there’s no debate that security of these M2M devices will be as important a discussion as the sheer number of them as it becomes they’re using mobile rather than terrestrial connectivity.

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