The Internet of Things
Aroon Tungare, CEO
Internet of Things (IOT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), Internet of Everything (IOE), have become incredibly common buzz words in the technology world today. IOT is, in fact, a natural evolution of wireless technology. Ever since the wireless communications revolution pioneered by Motorola in the 1980s, the communications focus has evolved from People-to-People, to People-to-Things and, now, to Things-to-Things.
The path to IOT can be neatly summarized in the above chart I created circa 2006. The emergence of the cell phone brought about an era of Digital Convergence. The device, a veritable Pacman, gobbled up functionalities of numerous standalone devices like the alarm clock, PDA, GPS, camera, music player, etc. It also led to the Digital Convergence of major industries as interests and technologies of computer, IT, telecommunications, media, and entertainment industries began to collide.
As the massive growth of the cellular industry drove down costs for personal area wireless connectivity, the industry focus changed from putting “Everything in a Radio” to putting a “Radio in Everything.” This allowed everyday devices (microwaves, refrigerators, light bulbs, etc.,) to Sense, Compute, and Communicate. Devices communicating with each other resulted in “Networked Everything,” and gave us the ability to Monitor, Track, and Control everyday things and achieve what we today call the Internet of Things.
There is a “perfect storm” of three factors that is driving IOT growth today, namely,
Availability of low-cost sensors to create ambient intelligence (e.g., cameras, GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers, gyros, microphones, air quality sensors, temperature sensors, etc.)
Ubiquitous and low-cost wireless connectivity with personal area, local area, and wide area coverage (e.g. Bluetooth, WiFi, Cellular 3G/4G, etc.)
Proliferation of low-cost, cloud-based data storage and services (SaaS, IaaS, etc.)
IOT gives us the ability for “Digital Control of the Physical World,” creating the basis for disruptive new products and services in a variety of industries from transportation and logistics to retail, to healthcare and automotive to just name a few. IOT enables ambient intelligence, which in turn enables data analytics which, in turn, allows businesses to increase productivity and efficiency and reduce cost of operations. New businesses creating value-added Apps & Services in the Consumer, Enterprise, Industrial, and Public Safety markets are sprouting every day.
The wireless technology itself has evolved over the years from 2G to 3G to 4G and is now poised to explode into 5G. With each generation the data speeds have gone up and latency has gone down. 5G promises a significant departure from the cellular evolution in that the spectrum used will primarily be “high band” frequencies ranging from 6 GHz to 100 GHz. These are millimeter wave frequencies that can deliver orders of magnitude higher bandwidth and ultra-low latencies compared to those we experience with 4G today.
There is, however, a significant caveat! mmWaves attenuate easily and do not travel long distances. They also do not penetrate walls and other barriers. As a result, 5G is going to need, and drive, unprecedented densification of the wireless network. The radio access network (RAN) network architecture itself is also changing from one dominated by macro cell sites to one based on Cloud/Centralized RANs (C-RAN). Unlike macro sites where each site had its own radio head and baseband unit, in the C-RAN architecture several remote radio heads will share the same baseband unit. As a result, these C-RAN nodes will need to be connected for fronthaul and backhaul by fiber. Fiber fed C-RAN nodes will need to be placed every 100 to 200 meters to provide fixed or mobile 5G access to end users.
NODABL plans to be a major player in the buildout of this 5G infrastructure. Stay tuned for my next blog on 5G and 5G IOT applications!