Latest IoT achievements make the deployment of IoT solutions more feasible for the near future. This is good news for the industry as recent forecasts calculate a total number of around 18 billion connected IoT devices by 2022.

Big IoT projects are being planned for smart cities and connected cars, with examples including:

  • The Ministry of Electricity and Water of Kuwait planning on connecting around 800,000 smart meters to more efficiently manage energy and water consumption. .
  • Taiwan’s largest telecommunications provider, Chunghwa Telecom, planning to use a Narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) system built by Ericsson to trial a range of IoT devices and applications – with potential applications for transport and utilities.
  • T-Mobile plans to use its IoT capabilities for a number of different projects in the Las Vegas area including early flood warnings and fault detection for city residents, smart lighting and environmental monitoring of temperature and humidity.

These big and important projects, face two big challenges; connectivity coverage and data volume.


IoT challenge #1: deep indoor connectivity

Connectivity of IoT devices poses new coverage challenges for a variety of use cases. Massive IoT applications in metropolitan areas are expected to require a high density of IoT devices that may exceed 20,000 devices per square kilometer. These devices will be deployed not only outdoors, but also indoors as well as full undeground, i.e. deep indoor.

IoT achievements deep indoor coverage

The challenge with deep indoor connectivity is the balance between coverage and throughput. The lower bitrate an application requires, the further the coverage is extended for the application and vice versa.

What does this mean? Deep indoor applications will have to be limited to lower bitrates.

Fortunately this seems not to be a problem, as for example smoke detectors and smart meters that may be installed deep indoor, do not require high bitrates.

The IoT achievement that solves this problem is the development and release of two solutions, Cat-M1 and NB-IoT that through their different characteristics and capabilities when combined can provide the coverage and throughput required.


What is NB-IoT?

NB-IoT is an essential technology that offers significant improvements in areas such as deep indoor coverage, power consumption, device complexity, system capacity and spectrum efficiency.

NB-IoT as its name implies is a narrowband solution. It therefore targets ultra-low throughput IoT applications with an uplink data rate of 300-400bps (yes, bits per second). Although this may seem low, it provides the benefit of improved coverage. Ericsson reports that with NB-IoT and at the 800MHz band a coverage of 99% of deep indoor devices is achievable. This is an impressive number, and remains impressive even at the 2,6GHz band with a 92% deep indoor device coverage.

Compare this with the 77% and 32% deep indoor coverage of broadband LTE to understand the achievement.


What is Cat-M1?

Cat-M1 is another important IoT technology as it can sustain a 10-30 kbps uplink throughput, that makes it suitable for IoT applications with bigger data footprint.

Even with Cat-M1 things do not look bad for coverage. Cat-M1 can achieve according to Ericsson 99% deep indoor coverage at the 800MHz and 86% deep indoor coverage at 2,6GHz. This last number is increased to 99% for indoor (i.e. excluding basements).


IoT challenge #2: data volume from connected cars

Connected vehicles, including autonomous public transportation, are estimated to generate data volumes that will reach 10 exabytes per month, approximately 10,000 times greater than today.

IoT achievements Connected vehicles

Addressing the challenge collectively

To address this data volume challenge an Automotive Edge Computing Consortium was created. The consortium was formed by Denso Corporation, EricssonIntel Corporation, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), NTT Docomo Inc., Toyota InfoTechnology Center Co. Ltd., and Toyota Motor Corporation.

The objective of the consortium is to develop an ecosystem for connected cars to support emerging services such as intelligent driving, the creation of maps with real-time data, and driving assistance based on cloud computing.

The consortium will focus on increasing network capacity to accommodate automotive big data in a reasonable fashion between vehicles and the cloud, by means of edge computing and more efficient network design.


Consortium scope and target

It will define requirements and develop use cases for emerging mobile devices with a particular focus on the automotive industry, bringing them to standards bodies, industry consortiums, and solution providers.

The consortium will also encourage the development of best practices for the distributed and layered computing approach recommended by the members. In the coming months, the aforementioned companies will initiate activities to invite relevant global technology leaders and expand the consortium.


IoT achievements Summary

#1: enhanced connectivity

The availability of NB-IoT and Cat-M1 solutions means that low data-rate IoT devices can enjoy enhanced coverage indoor and deep indoor, by using these connectivity solutions providing reduced data rates.

#2: enhanced architectures to handle data volumes

The Automotive Edge Computing Consortium is expected to play a significant role in defining and coordinating development of solutions that provide enhance network and computational capacity to handle the large volume of data expected to be created by connected vehicles.


What do you think?

We believe that these two important IoT achievements are important for the future of smart cities and connected cars, as together will enable the realization of massive IoT deployments in the future.

Do you agree? Do you think that more challenges need to be addressed? Use the comment below to discuss!