Smart Cities and Smart Homes are now gaining momentum. Soon the Internet of Things will connect even the simplest device in your home to the internet. According to Cisco, there will be an estimate of 50 billion connected devices in 2020 and some forecasts even reveal higher numbers. This clearly suggests that there will be considerably more internet-connected devices in the future, three times even four times more than what we have now.
But how is the internet really holding up to these changes in terms of bandwidth? According to reports, the massive growth of M2M enabled systems in the conceivably near future can possibly strain the existing network. Others, however suggested that there may be a need for a completely devoted network to these M2M devices alone. Cisco however, disagrees.
Cisco’s director of thought leadership, Thomas Barnett, Jr. wrote that Despite the volume of connections (and market buzz), M2M applications won’t have a significant impact on traffic in the near-term. Due to the low-bandwidth nature of many M2M apps, they accounted for less than 1% of global IP traffic 2013 and will represent less than 2.8% of global IP traffic by 2018
The idea however was brought by the fact that the Internet of Things utilizes wireless spectrum to send data and will send data via cellular signals. At present, some cellular networks in city areas may have already suffered from congestion. Another possible reason behind it is the fact that some frequencies that could be used for wireless communication are already allocated for TV, Radio and emergency signals and services. Another consideration would be the actual size of the Internet of Things, which no one can accurately say at this point.
Regardless of its size or whether IoT and M2M technology will use only a fraction of the bandwidth, some companies have already dealt with it head on. Qualcomm is one of the companies backing up a new long range, low power Wi-Fi standard that can be used for this. US companies are also considering a dedicated network that will be used solely for the Internet of Things. This is not to weigh down on the existing network while they are still developing ways that will help accommodate IoT’s possible bandwidth requirement.
A French company, SigFox has taken a different approach to this dilemma. SigFox is building a small cellular network in Silicon Valley that is designed exclusively for IoT devices, as part of the companies vision in building a worldwide cellular network for IoT. In fact, SigFox has already implemented part of this in France. Meanwhile, other companies may continue to find ways to either increase network capacity or decrease bandwidth requirement of these devices. The telecommunications industry has witnessed companies and providers build and expand their networks just to accommodate the massive amount of data that billions of mobile devices had consumed. The Internet of Things should be no different…