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8 IoT Challenges to Tackle in 2018 & Beyond

By Special Guest
Emily Soelberg, AVP Project Program Management, IoT Solutions, AT&T
November 13, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is going mainstream. In 2018, we’ll see more connected technology than ever before. Gartner predicts that by 2020, IoT technology will be in 95 percent of electronics for new product designs.

If you’re not thinking about IoT, you’re probably behind. But as adoption increases, there are several challenges we need to overcome before realizing IoT’s full potential. The industry has been changing rapidly and there is good news – many of the barriers that existed even earlier this year are being knocked down.

  1. The Price Tag – Just 2 years ago, the cost of an LTE module was about $30. That’s more than many connected devices themselves. But, these costs are rapidly decreasing. Currently, LTE-M modules are available for $7.50, inclusive of the SIMs. As this new technology hits scale, these costs are expected to go down further.
  2. Module Size – Module components were historically designed for devices like phones and tablets. Many of the things we want to connect today, especially wearables, are smaller but until recently couldn’t be connected via cellular because of the module’s size.
  3. Staying Fully Charged – Connected things must have a constant battery or power source, or the ability to recharge. Many things that couldn’t be connected in the past are long-life devices that need to operate for years without being touched. There are better solutions being enabled for mainstream wide area networks that change the frequency of charging from days to years.
  4. Volume and Speed – Many new IoT use cases require a lower latency and higher throughput than is currently available today. For example, ultra-low latency will enable things like automated vehicles or better management of an electrical grid. And super-high throughput combined with it will enable use cases like robotic remote medicine.
  5. Single SKU – Manufacturers want to develop and source a single SKU, but it can be challenging to achieve seamless connectivity that works around the world. Multi-national corporations need to work to stitch together connectivity globally. The technology behind enabling and managing global connectivity is being deployed at scale and new operator relationships to meet the needs of IOT are being forged.
  6. Pairing Now – Short-range networks like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth require manual pairing and often don’t work out of the box. Consumers are looking to turn on a connected device in their home without downloading an app or pairing apps to their phone. Enterprises are looking to ship equipment to field offices without worrying if it will work on arrival. The notion of having something that “just works” and isn’t restricted by the coverage of shorter range networks is powerful.
  7. You’re Breaking Up – Interference on unlicensed bands can also be a barrier. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth share the 2.4 GHz band – a band with occasional interference from microwaves and cordless phones. The ISM band is increasingly being used for a variety of IoT devices across multiple access technologies. As massive numbers of IoT devices are lit up, the likelihood of interference in unlicensed bands also increases.
  8. Security, Security, Security – Finally, the #1 barrier to IoT adoption is still security. Through 2022, Gartner predicts half of all security budgets for IoT will go to fault remediation, recalls and safety failures rather than protection. Without innovations and assurances around security, additional enterprises will be slow to embrace IoT.

To truly maximize the benefits of IoT and inspire further adoption, we’ll have to start addressing these problems head on next year. The good news? We’re already starting to.

New Low-Power Wide-Area networks, like LTE-M, will allow devices to run years on a single battery, with a module as small as a penny, at less than 25 percent of that $30 cost from two years ago.

Capabilities that were formerly restricted to short range networks can now be combined with the inherent benefits of cellular—like embedded security and automated provisioning without having to pair with a hub/router.

New telecom innovations from global operators, such as IoT-driven roaming enhancements and remote over-the-air SIM provisioning, make it easier to ship a single SKU that works around the world.

And 5G will provide improved throughput and ultra-low latency.

This new wave of innovations is addressing and even eliminating some of the current IoT barriers in place. As we look to 2018 and beyond, the market is evolving rapidly to ensure IoT will prevail.

About the Author: Emily Soelberg is AVP Project Program Management, IoT Solutions, AT&T, and as the AVP of Internet of Things Programs, she is spearheading a series of strategic growth programs that span network, platforms, services and global expansion. She was named one of the 2017 Women of M2M by Connected World Magazine. In her former role as Executive Director of Strategy, Soelberg worked with a variety of AT&T business units including Mobility, IoT and U-verse to find and justify growth areas in the emerging space of home and industrial connected things.




Edited by Ken Briodagh


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