IoT Blog
IoT Blog

The Next Step for the IoT – Connectivity 2.0

Today, you can find the IoT in offices, factories and stores around the world. From smart HVAC systems that optimize office temperatures, improving employee comfort while lowering energy costs; to connected industrial air compressors that can be remotely maintained and fixed, reducing maintenance costs and downtime; to inventory control systems that can wirelessly detect when a product’s stock is low and order more; IoT applications have rapidly moved from being a “Gee-Whiz” technology of the future to one that businesses take for granted every day. 

The truly amazing thing is that all this growth has taken place in a connectivity environment designed primarily to transmit data for consumer audio and video applications on smart phones and tablets, not Industrial IoT applications like the ones described above. Though some Industrial IoT applications are similar to consumer applications, requiring smart phones and tablets with high data transfer capabilities, many are quite different. In particular, many applications use internet-connected devices deeply embedded into factory equipment, street lights, pipelines or other “things”, have low data transfer speed requirements. In some cases, they even rely on non-rechargeable batteries to power the devices for as long as 10 years. Though the Industrial IoT has seen much success, deployment of these types of applications has been slower than that of consumer applications for multiple reasons related to connectivity, including:
  • Developers having to invest significant time in integrating Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards – which are needed to connect to cellular networks – with the modules, gateways or other the IoT devices that gather, process and transmit data, control equipment or do the other application “work.” 
  • The fact that these SIMs were often tied to a single cellular network and had difficulty recovering from a network outage, increasing network costs while decreasing availability. 
  • Cellular data modules that were expensive, used a lot of power (limiting the length of their lifetimes if they were dependent on battery power) and had difficulty providing coverage underground, inside buildings and in remote rural areas.
  • The lack of standards-based platforms for managing global IoT applications with thousands of devices on multiple cellular networks, making it difficult to administer these devices, update them with security upgrades, integrate them with other hardware or web services or add new capabilities. 
As a result of these financial, security and scalability issues, application developers have had trouble building business cases with clear, high ROIs and low security risks for many otherwise promising Industrial IoT applications. 

However, we are rapidly entering a new era of IoT connectivity – Connectivity 2.0 – that removes many of the barriers that have slowed the development of IoT applications. Purpose-built for the IoT, Connectivity 2.0 technologies reduce time to market for Industrial IoT applications, deliver lower and more predictable costs and improve IoT application security. Some of these innovative Connectivity 2.0 technologies include:
  • Embedded SIMs (eSIMs): Increasingly, companies are delivering modules and gateways with SIM cards already embedded into the devices. By pre-integrating the SIM with a module or gateway, eSIMs reduce the costs and complexities involved in application development. In addition, by tightly integrating the SIM with the device, eSIMs improve application security. eSIMs allow enterprises to change network operators for their application’s device without swapping out SIM cards, helping reduce network connectivity costs while increasing flexibility. They also help enable edge-based network control, in which devices can autonomously supervise the availability and quality of their network connection and, if there is a problem, switch to another network by themselves or take other corrective actions. This improves service resilience and availability, while reducing device administration. 
  • Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies: The introduction of two new LPWA networking technologies specifically designed for the IoT, LTE-M and NB-IoT, has addressed many of the cost, power and coverage issues that have slowed or prevented the development of IoT applications in the past. LPWA technologies reduce module complexity, helping lower module costs by as much as 50 percent and improving application ROI. They use less power than other cellular technologies, including 100 times less power than broadband LTE, allowing devices to rely exclusively on battery power for 10 years or more. They also extend cellular coverage into underground, indoor and remote rural locations, enabling new pipeline monitoring, building energy management, smart agriculture and other Industrial IoT use cases.
  • Standards-based management platforms: New cloud services offer standards-based platforms for managing thousands of devices on multiple networks around the world. These platforms simplify device administration, while also making it much easier to upgrade devices with security updates, integrate them with new devices or web services and even update the applications themselves with new features or functionality. 
With Ready to Connect and other IoT solutions and services, Sierra Wireless is empowering developers to take advantage of these and other new Connectivity 2.0 technologies to rapidly bring to market innovative new Industrial IoT applications. Ready to Connect solutions provide customers with cellular modules and routers that include embedded Smart SIMs, pre-connected to the multiple cellular networks around the world, providing global connectivity while significantly simplifying the IoT application development process. Ready to Connect solutions can be managed in the cloud using Sierra Wireless’ AirVantage® IoT platform, allowing customers to both administer and update thousands of devices from a single pane of glass , connecting these devices to other devices or web services. In addition, Ready to Connect solutions feature trusted devices managed by the AirVantage platform over highly secure and available cellular networks, providing the integrated device-to-cloud security that developers need to reduce the risk of a damaging cyberattack.

As Ready to Connect shows, Connectivity 2.0 is here, enabling developers to build stronger, more predictable, lower risk business cases for their Industrial IoT application ideas. With cost-effective, out-of-the-box integrated connectivity, developers can focus more on differentiating their applications with valuable and exciting new features – features that will result in new “Gee Whiz” Industrial IoT applications that businesses will once again be taking for granted in 5-10 years. 

Start with Sierra and view the webinar How to Ensure ROI & Reduce Time to Market by 50% with IoT Connectivity 2.0 to find out more about how Ready to Connect and other Sierra Wireless Connectivity 2.0 solutions and services can empower you to build the future of the IoT.