Everything gets connected. Your car, home lighting, sound equipment, your wrist watch. But also your garbage can, mattress, raincoat and restroom. Your children, pets and elderly parents. And even your flowerbeds, driveway and drainpipes.
Everything will communicate. But the main question is: how? Quite a number of concepts and protocols are emerging. To mention just a few: LoRaWAN, Zigbee, NFC. And good old Blue Tooth, of course. LoRaWAN stands for Long Range WAN. Zigbee is used in the Philips Hue Lighting system. NFC, Near Field Communications technology, already is used by hundreds of millions of consumers when swiping their debit cards at cash registers or when using public transportation systems. These IoT protocols and concepts all have one thing in common: the associated equipment – mostly sensors – uses as little power as possible.
Wi-Fi HaLow is the latest protocol. It builds upon the IEEE 802.11ah technology. Wi-Fi HaLow operates in frequency bands below one gigahertz, offering longer range, lower power connectivity to Wi-Fi products. Wi-Fi HaLow will enable a variety of new power-efficient use cases in the Smart Home, connected car, and in digital healthcare, as well as industrial, retail, agriculture, and Smart City environments. Wi-Fi HaLow’s range is nearly twice that of today’s Wi-Fi, and provides a more robust connection in challenging environments where the ability to more easily penetrate walls or other barriers is an important requirement. Wi-Fi HaLow will broadly adopt existing Wi-Fi protocols and deliver many of the benefits that consumers have come to expect from Wi-Fi today, including multi-vendor interoperability, strong government-grade security and easy setup.
Commercial parties have started to invest in IoT networks. At the same time, user communities feel they need to stay in control. They try to build their own networks. Kick-starter project “The Things Network” for instance has crowd sourced a complete city-wide IoT data network with the people of Amsterdam in six weeks using LoRaWAN. Now they are repeating this in every city in the world. LoRaWAN allows for things to talk to the internet without 3G or Wi-Fi. So, it could be the end of Wi-Fi codes and mobile subscriptions.
From a connectivity point of view, this development will add complexity to the networking infrastructure. Some “things” will generate huge volumes of data, both in real-time and continuously. Other objects will transmit a small dataset at set intervals. The IoT data communication platforms and protocol need to be integrated in already existing infrastructures.
IT leaders will have to accommodate for the differences in technologies and develop a multifaceted technology approach to IoT networking.
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