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Nationwide, Citywide IoT Networks: Careful of the #MWC17 Hype

Nationwide and citywide IoT (Internet of Things) networks are generating plenty of buzz at this week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 conference in Barcelona, Spain. In many cases, channel partners and big IT service providers are helping to build out and/or manage the IoT infrastructure. But can the resulting networks live up to this week’s IoT hype-fest?

First, here’s a sampling of the major build-outs generating buzz at MWC…

1. Nationwide IoT Network – Australia: Telstra and Ericsson are building out a nationwide IoT network in Australia. The big question: How does an IoT network differ from a traditional IP-based network? The answer involves Cat-M1, which seeks to extend LTE’s reach. Advantages include low cost, low power consumption, deep coverage, massive numbers of connections, and high reliability of transmission, according to Telstra and Ericsson statements to Business Insider.

2. Nationwide IoT Network, India: HP Enterprise and Tata Communications say they are building the world’s largest IoT network in India. The first phase of the roll-out targets Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 cities in India, touching over 400 million people. Alongside successful field trials in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, there are also 35 proof-of-concept applications in trial on the network, the companies said. The network leverages LoRa — a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification for wireless battery operated IoT devices. It complements other connectivity options such as LTE, Wi-Fi and more.

3. Citywide IoT Network – San Diego: The city of San Diego is building the world’s largest municipal IoT network, with an assist from GE’s Current platform, according to Manufacturing.net. The Current deployment in San Diego includes:

  • 3,200 intelligent sensor nodes, which will help optimize traffic and parking, plus enhance public safety, environmental awareness and overall livability for San Diego residents, GE claims.
  • The potential for software developers to access to real-time sensor data for future intelligent city applications, GE says.
  • Future outdoor lighting upgrades — including 14,000 new LED light fixtures expected to save $2.4 million in annual energy costs, GE asserts.

IoT Reality Check

No doubt, the IoT market is “real” — I’m just wary of the hype cycle, which includes plenty of “pretender” companies trying to reposition existing monitoring, sensor and data management platforms for IoT use cases.

Overall, IT industry executives are nearly evenly split on their view of IoT hype, according to CompTIA IoT research results published in mid-2016. Forty-seven percent of respondents believe the opportunities presented by IoT justify the hype, while 53% see more hype than substance at this point in time.

I think there’s plenty of substance. But anytime a vendor or partner tells you they’ve launched the “first” or “biggest” technology project of its kind, be sure to raise a skeptical eye and ask plenty of questions. Then, push for actual KPI and ROI metrics — not “forecasted” savings or “future” anticipated revenues…

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