I opened a Comtech Forum event on connecting the Internet of Things with this presentation. A couple of key pieces from the presentation I’ll spend a bit more time here describing.
The first is a meta analysis across multiple IoT device forecasts. While everyone has been bullish on IoT/M2M/whatever we are calling the market this month, when you look at the actual unit volumes published over the last few years, we are in that accelerating growth rate that marks an exponential. Taking it out further, we see significant growth by 2025 with an estimated 400 billion devices connected. This does not include the phones or wearables that other folks have ‘padded’ their forecasts with. The gut check I did was compare that number to the global population estimate for 2025, roughly 8 billion people. That means we could see 50 connected IoT devices for every person on the planet by 2025, not an unreasonable assessment given the number of IoT endpoints being used for industrial and municipal purposes.
The next slide I’d like to highlight is an analysis of the Trials, Deployments and Proof of Concepts (POC’s) being mentioned in Twitter. It’s increasing, at a substantial rate, month over month. All the while this increase is happening, the overall chatter has been relatively flat, meaning that more actual IoT work is getting done and talked about, reinforcing the belief that we are in an accelerating market, finally!
The last piece to mention is the slide on which protocols are being most referenced in the IoT Twitter chatter. As you can see from the chart, 5G dominates. But why? Unlicensed methods like Sigfox and LoRa are shipping in products today? LTE based licensed methods like Narrow Band IoT ( NB-IoT) or LTE Cat M1 are also seeing real deployments this year? Why all this hype around a licensed method that is barely off the workbench of the vendors?
Part of the hype is the 5G ecosystem working hard to accelerate adoption of the next generation even as service providers still have not squeezed the last bit of performance out of their LTE investment. Though keeping true to my view that it is really the Internets of Things, not a single network, there are many, albeit long tail, applications where 5G does not make sense. Applications that do not require the low latency and high bandwidth that 5G offers such as smart agriculture deploys in rural environments where low power and long range trump what 5G trumpets.
When we dig into the conversations around 5G, much is on trials happening with carriers. More than a few tweets question the readiness of IoT, pointing to the maturity of 5G as a reason IoT is not ready, even equating it to the Skynet of Terminator fame. What is also interesting is how conflated IoT and 5G are becoming. As a community we need to be clearer on where and how these protocols are valuable. At the Comtech Forum meeting, the overwhelming interest from the audience during our Unpanel was not on the protocols themselves but what markets they are/will impact. At the end of the day, the success of IoT will be measured by the rate the “how” (5G, LoRa, NB-IoT) disappears from from the conversation and we focus on the ‘what’ of Smart Cities, Smart Agriculture, Asset Management and hundreds of other applications we have yet to prove out for IoT.
If you’d like to get access to the same tools we use to fuel our analysis of the IoT market narrative, you can find out more here. With over a million IoT tweets a month, the only way to stay on top of it all is using our platform to ensure your team is moving the market narrative in the direction of growth and influence.