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2G Network Sunset: What Will Rise Next for IoT Data?

By Special Guest
Tom Hunt, CEO and president of WindSpring
May 03, 2016

Inexpensive 2G mobile networks are being phased out or ‘sunsetted.’ Disappearance of 2G networks will have a severe impact on M2M users, who typically don’t need the speed or the cost of 4G networks. The low data transmission costs of 2G networks have also made them popular for IoT data traffic, which is expected to explode in coming years.

As these 2G networks sink slowly below the horizon, the expectation is that M2M and IoT traffic will shift to various alternatives, such as low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) like SIGFOX or LoRaWAN.

At first, it might seem perfectly natural for LPWANs to carry IoT traffic, given the small amount of data generated by an IoT device at any given moment. From a pure cost perspective, 4G networks will be the most expensive, but they’ll also be most ubiquitous. LPWANs are very economical, but they have traffic limitations. For one thing, the frequent, small “bursts” of data from IoT devices present challenges for low-power wireless networks.

In part, that’s because traditional compression technologies don’t work with bursty messages. It’s also because even small bursts of frequently generated data, especially by the millions of IoT devices already connected and the millions more that will join them, add up quickly.

Without data compression optimized for IoT devices and low-power wireless networks, the result is:

  • Bloated bursts of uncompressed IoT data that sends wireless data costs spiraling out of control
  • Inefficient communications that increase radio usage, which drains the battery life of IoT devices that must remain operating in the field for long periods of time
  • High latency and low bandwidth that prevents IoT devices from transmitting actionable data fast enough to perform basic and necessary functions
  • Inability to transmit meaningful IoT data from a device to the network back end under the constraints of narrowband network implementations

Tom Hunt is CEO and president of WindSpring, Inc., San Jose, Calif. He invites companies to “Contact us to learn about the WindSpring SpringBoard IoT tools or to get a free, no-obligation IoT data analysis.” The company website, www.windspring.com, has more information about optimized IoT data compression.




Edited by Ken Briodagh


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