The rise of IoT devices will result in a creation of an entire ecosystem where there will be a continuous exchange of information between devices, sensors, computers and networks. And connecting these ‘things’ with other ‘things’ and to a centralised database are telecom networks—the very same networks on which much of the internet was founded.
New challenges for the telecom industry
The surge in IoT adoption puts new demands on the telecom industry, where it’s just not enough for network providers to offer voice and data plans. Rather, they will have to deal with issues ranging from scalability and security to creating and managing new networks for specific IoT devices.
For instance, industry players will have to factor in the difference in IoT endpoint behaviours for different devices. A smart electricity meter, which automatically records and relays electricity consumption to a centralised repository, does not require 4G bandwidth. A low bandwidth channel would suffice. However, a smart car that provides in-car entertainment as well as a steady flow of diagnostic information to a centralised hub would require a higher bandwidth of 4G or even 5G. NB-IOT (Narrowband – Internet of Things), LoRa, and Sigfox are all wireless technologies seeking to address the needs of very low data rate devices.
Scalability and security are other pressing issues that telecom players will have to address. With IoT devices numbering more that the people on planet Earth, telecoms will have to seek new ways to scale to accommodate every device from light bulbs to running shoes. Plus the security of these networks will be the onus of telecom industry. Software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization [NFV] can add scalability and manage security through better visibility, adaptability and programmability. Blockchain, based on the decentralised and distributed ledger system, is another viable alternative that can fill in security and scalability gaps.
On the data centre side, it would be critical for telecoms to adopt cloud technologies. A cloud infrastructure is robust, yet flexible and agile when required to scale. This will enable network service providers to maintain continuous IoT availability and even keep up with the pace of new IoT rollouts.
It’s time to start preparing for an IoT led future
There is no denying that IoT will be a huge part of the telecom industry’s future. Telecoms will have to adapt to this change by adopting a robust innovation strategy through gaining insights into consumers’ ever-evolving demands and by investing in new technologies.
Precision marketing for telcos, based on intelligent algorithms, can help provide deep insights on behaviors of each customer. This gives telecoms the added advantage to understand customer behavior and invest in the right technology needed for the fast-expanding IoT ecosystem.