Rethinking the Internet of Things

– Jay Chen, CEO, Huawei India

 

Internet of Things

Every business in every industry could benefit from advances in digital connectivity, as the “Internet of Things” allows people to manage assets better and make more fully informed decisions. But to realize the potential of IoT, the world must first re-imagine how networks are used.

The IoT is driving the integration of digital and physical worlds where customer demand has shifted from products to services, so consumers instead of producers now determine production. Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly transforming the way we operate and function in our day-to-day lives. It can streamline business processes, boost productivity, and give customers better products and services, while providing potential for grander innovations.

Governments worldwide are rolling out plans to develop the Internet of Things (IoT). A great many have policies designed to accelerate the trend towards smart cities, along with closer technological, economic and trade exchanges between countries. For them, it’s all too obvious that IoT is a vital new growth engine that’s essential for expansion of the digital economy.What’s less obvious, or at least less quantifiable, is the sheer scale of the economic impact that IoT will have.

After years of technological advancement and market development, the IoT is poised to unearth a world of untapped ICT opportunities. The massive ecosystem that is the IoT is predicted to facilitate 100 billion connections by 2025, and it would require the joint efforts and close collaboration of ICT solution providers, enterprises, research institutes, and governments. That is why the telecoms industry believes the world would benefit by reimagining digital connectivity.

Connecting more “things” to the Internet has the potential to increase efficiency, lift productivity, reduce waste, and fuel economic growth. According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, a fully networked Internet of Things (IoT) could add up to $11 trillion to the global economy every year by 2025. Realizing these benefits, however, will require changes in how data are delivered and managed.

Today’s broadband networks were built to serve people; they are used to make phone calls, chat by video, surf the web, and play online games. While these applications are important, they are fairly limited in scope.

Scenarios for connecting things are much more diverse. For example, a networked shipping container crossing the ocean must have extended wireless range, but it does not need super-fast response speeds. The opposite is true for virtual reality headsets, which require ultra-low delay, or latency, to give viewers an immersive experience. By 2025, the world will have some 100 billion connected devices, and to derive maximum value from these linkages, we will need to optimize our networks for things as well as people.

The first step in doing that is ensuring that future networks have enough bandwidth to handle applications like high-definition video, which will soon account for the majority of user traffic. A particular challenge will be upgrading systems to handle industrial video, which is fast becoming integral to modern manufacturing. For example, chip foundries use machine vision to check integrated circuits for microscopic defects, a process that requires extraordinarily high resolution. To transmit this information, cameras need bandwidths of up to ten gigabits per second, and a single factory may have 1,000 cameras running simultaneously.

Second, when it comes to data latency, today’s networks are designed for human perception, which tolerates a high degree of delay. On a phone call, for example, a 50-millisecond wait is imperceptible to the human brain. Power grids, on the other hand, need a consistent latency of 20 milliseconds or less. To support connected grids, “smart” robots, and other machines, next-generation networks will need to be faster and have even greater capacity.

Third, the networks of tomorrow will need to be automated, self-optimizing, and self-repairing. Artificial intelligence will allow basic network functions to be placed on autopilot, and simple economics will make this a necessity. Once the IoT is supporting billions of connections among cars, trains, factories, and hospitals, operating costs will skyrocket unless networks can be maintained with little human intervention.

And finally, to bring the IoT to life, policymakers will need to support the development of advanced networks that can transmit larger volumes of data faster. In particular, the wireless spectrum – airwaves across which data travel invisibly to and from connected devices – will form the basis of many digital services. But spectrum, just like water and oil, is a limited resource. Most countries will need to release more spectrum space for wireless communications, increasing usable airwaves by anywhere from 50% to 100%.

Every business in every industry can benefit from these advances. New connections will deliver value to entrepreneurs, societies, and economies, allowing people to manage assets better and make more fully informed decisions. But to realize this future, we must begin thinking differently about how networks and business models interact. After all, in a world of deepening connections, everything is a potential new subscriber.

Leave a Reply