The term ‘Internet of Things’ means many things to many people. To some it’s the future: an ideal for the shape of things to come. To others it’s just a buzzword, an idea that’s a long way from coming true. But thanks to new technologies, the future’s a lot closer than you think. And it’s all about the way we connect things, and what we’re able to connect.
Connecting the unconnected
In the past, what’s stood in the IoT’s way is largely a matter of economics and business viability. It started by connecting people, then connecting things – and this was driven by business consideration.
While existing cellular technologies are used to connect things, some of these ‘things’ have very specific requirements which make them redundant. These requirements include very low power consumption so they can run for months untouched, very low data transfer rates, and connectivity from remote locations – sometimes underground or at sea. You need to achieve all this simply and economically to make the business case for investing in IoT. And that’s discouraged many organisations in the past.
A long-range solution
A new range of technologies, aka as LPWA (Low Power Wire Area) technologies, are making IoT investment a much more viable business proposition. In particular, LoRa (Long Range technology) has been designed to address the challenges of connecting things with constrained, long-range, low-power or low-bandwidth environments. And it’s achieved in a low-cost way. So this all combines to make the Internet of Things a much more viable proposition: a reality that businesses can make happen, and not just an idea.
Open, affordable and available
Technologies like LoRa aren’t just in the pipeline – they’re being deployed right now by leading SPs such as Orange in France. Which means organisations don’t have to play the waiting game anymore: they can start making the IoT a reality for themselves – before their competitors get there first. And the way LoRa addresses the issues of connecting things isn’t something that can be done today with existing mobile networks, but instead it’s a solid, complimentary technology that can be used with what service providers already have. It’s a powerful new tool to add to their arsenal, fitting neatly into the existing bigger picture of existing methods of connectivity including wired connections, cellular and Wi-Fi.
Enabling LoRa deployment
At the February 2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Actility announced that it was collaborating with Cisco to provide real IoT solutions. Actility is the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area (LPWA), and the Actility ThingPark Wireless™ Platform combined with Cisco’s IoT solutions in a form that’s ready for customers to deploy.
And Cisco is also part of the new LoRa™ Alliance that is bringing together SPs and IoT solution providers to agree standards and enable worldwide mobility for IoT.
It’s happening. Not in the future, but now. And that means there’s no excuse not to make the most of it.
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