Articles | March 1, 2018
Massive & Industrial IoT
Apart from blockchain, the Internet of Things is a clear trend as presented by exhibitors and speakers at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Connectivity is a must-have, not just an interesting function, of the devices presented here. Everything is connected and this is the word that crops up here most often. Of course gadgets such as wearable devices still attract attention, but what the suppliers of solutions for industry are offering is more important. The revolution is clearly visible here.
Enthusiasts of the Internet of Things are convinced that this is a solution which is much more than just a technological trend and software development. And they have strong arguments to support their view. Over the next 40 years, we need to double agricultural output to feed the growing global population. At the same time, the use of fuel, water and pesticides generated by agriculture should be reduced today. Without technology, this is an unachievable task. The IoT can be a response to many problems, but business – especially industry – goes a step further. Today, representatives of companies from almost every industry are asking the question: how can we use the IoT?
But let’s take it from the top. What equipment do you need to invest in to be able to take your company to a higher level of digital transformation through the use of the IoT? It turns out that the IoT is not about solutions, it’s about evolution. The IoT cannot simply be designed and implemented because it is a self-learning network.
The stages of in-company IoT evolution
A company interested in using the Internet of Things must be prepared for three basic phases:
- All things sensing – each device that we use must be equipped with the right sensors to collect data which is relevant to the specific process, as well as data transmission chips. This is the beginning of the IoT.
- All things connected – of course, all devices must be connected through the use of infrastructure that will send all data collected efficiently.
- All things intelligent – devices must be intelligent, meaning that data cannot be transmitted in only one direction. Each device needs to learn how to work optimally and how to transfer data in a more intelligent way. Data analysis technologies such as Artificial Intelligence or machine learning, which enable the automation of optimization activities, are key here.
Only after the company has successfully gone through all these phases can we talk about the success of the IoT implementation. And this in itself is only the next stage of continuous digital transformation, because the Internet of Things – when implemented successfully in a company – opens up completely new perspectives and possibilities.
Technology plays an important role in the evolution of IoT
However, the Internet of Things is not possible without the proper network infrastructure. Unfortunately, the data transmission technologies available today and the infrastructure used for it impose certain limitations on the development of the IoT. Industrial IoT produces industrial quantities of data, and commercially used technologies are not yet prepared for data in such amounts.
One of the technologies that will most likely facilitate the dynamic development of a massive and industrial IoT is the 5G network, which is also being discussed at the Mobile World Congress. But until this technology comes into commercial use, the most sensible solution is private networks, i.e. narrow-band IoT. This is a narrowband radio technology designed for the Internet of Things.
NB-IoT uses Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology, a radio technology standard developed to facilitate the connection of a large number of devices and services using cellular telecommunication bands. NB-IoT focuses particularly on providing coverage in closed, confined spaces (such as factories), and is characterized by low operating costs, the efficient use of batteries in devices and the ability to connect a large number of devices to the network. NB-IoT technology can be implemented in the LTE band, using the resources of the public LTE network, or completely independently in the case of implementations in a dedicated band.
NB-IoT already in Fast Track
5th generation network
5G is a data transfer standard which has a much higher bandwidth than the 4G solutions used so far, which will make communication between devices more reliable. In fact, full automation within the IoT will only become possible with this technology, and it will be possible to implement solutions such as remotely controlled means of transport. As I mentioned, the NB IoT infrastructure is imperfect in terms of coverage, limiting the possibility of using the IoT to a specific area such as a factory. Only the 5G network enables the full use of the Internet of Things in industries such as agriculture, transport, telecommunications or solutions such as smart cities, autonomous cars or intelligent public services such as a “first response network”.