We recently spoke to Optus Wholesale Head of Marketing & Strategy, John Castro to find out more.
“The IoT is a hot topic and for good reason. The potential of the technology is enormous,” he said.
“In essence, IoT is the trend toward the interconnection of real world objects and devices, and their associated processes and data, via existing or new networking infrastructure. It represents the next evolution of the internet from machines to people and now everything else.”
The hype surrounding IoT is underpinned by growth predictions by reputable analyst firms such as Gartner that predicted there will be 20.8 billion “things” connected by 2020.
If that seems like an unlikely future-state keep in mind that the IoT is already here amongst us. Think smart watches and clever toys for starters, as well as the rollout of “Smart Cities”.
“The IoT market is being driven and enabled by a number of trends including the proliferation of Internet-enabled devices; wireless network ubiquity; consumer interest in connected wearables; large investments in IoT by influential companies; the promise of enhanced analytics (events based, predictive); and large-scale cloud and big data deployments,” Castro said.
IoT is also expected to transform much of the economy.
IoT was also featured extensively with an additional focus on the need for mobile networks to develop to handle thousands of various connected devices that will make it all work. It was also noted by Dennis Wong, the Optus Networks MD that “Although mobile networks aren’t the only communications infrastructure that will be used for the IoT, they are an important component that will enable the IoT ecosystem rollout. That puts the next generation of mobile networks into focus.”
Over time existing mobile networks will struggle to handle the predicted explosion in the number and diversity of devices and sensors each with different connectivity needs.
The growing demands that will come with the sheer number and divergence of concurrently running devices will soon outstrip what can be supplied by existing mobile networks and a completely new more powerful mobile network will in time become essential.
“The IoT represents a paradigm shift. In terms of network demand, it’s not just about capacity,” Castro continued.
“The new network will need to be qualitatively different to the ones we have now, because the things it will need to support are not just more of the same. There will be a huge range of devices that will have different connectivity needs and profiles.
While some will need the same type of bandwidth as existing networked devices, such as smartphones, the majority will not. IoT devices may demand higher throughputs but they will also need to support long-range connectivity as well as low power consumption devices such as ‘always-on’ sensors.
And let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about potentially millions of devices each with different connectivity profiles. These could range from fire extinguishers that blip 2Kb once a week through to a Smart City. This more complex demand will require a distinctly different network,” he said.
“5G promises to deliver the required latency and bandwidth improvements to answer those challenges. Whereas 4G was an incremental improvement on 3G and 3G was an improvement on 2G, 5G will be quite different. A new 5G radio interface will be required to be defined to meet the requirements of some of the higher-speed, lower-latency use cases. However, the 5G ecosystem will provide multi-access connectivity that can make opportunistic use of LTE-Advanced, wi-fi and Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) technologies such as Narrowband-IoT.
In a nutshell, 3G was about doing things faster than 2G and enabling the wireless internet. 4G was about higher throughput. 5G is about handling a greater range of connected things each sometimes with very low bit rates. 5G won’t replace 4G – it will be parallel and complementary, and you’ll have devices that can connect to both,” he said.
On the road to 5G
Optus has made considerable progress down the road toward 5G with a recent trial of 4.5G with Huawei. The trial achieved download speeds of 1.41Gbps with theoretical maximum speeds reaching 1.43Gbps. 4.5G technology is an important precursor and test case for 5G, which is expected to become a reality for Optus around 2020.
“We continue to utilise our network and spectrum assets to test our network of the future and prepare for 5G. By 2020, 5G will be here, and we are committed to identifying ways to prepare our network to support this new technology and further improve customer experience,” said Dennis Wong, Optus Networks acting Managing Director.
5G Future Outlook
“The standardisation of 5G, now in its infancy, will mature with clear technological trends emerging from the end of 2017 onwards.” according to GSMA. As consumers and business both switch onto the benefits of IoT applications and services, this will be an eagerly anticipated development.
The Optus Wholesale team continues to deliver mobile service providers with market insights and innovative telco solutions. For more information visit Optus Wholesale