Rise of the Machines

Cisco recently published some research that showed an expected growth rate for mobile data traffic of 26-fold in the next four years, largely due to the growth in mobile video.

Another recent prediction from Analysis Mason, however, is even more intriguing. According to their research, the number of M2M connections will grow more than 32-fold by 2020.

With intelligence being infused in to so many devices – cars, power grids, homes, hospitals – operators will have their hands full managing the flood of data from these new services and connections.

For example: today your car’s GPS can navigate you from A to B. But it could also guide you around highly-polluted areas at rush hour by taking information from cities’ smog sensors. Power grids could help electric vehicles locate public charging stations. Pace-makers could feed real-time information directly to a hospital and automatically send out emergency calls if needed. I have also heard recently from Berkeley University that very soon nano technology will be capable of emitting digital signals. My mind boggles when I think about what that might mean in terms of data traffic!

The societal benefits of more M2M connections: fewer power stations are needed if energy is used more wisely; doctors can provide better patient care; less energy consumption means less pollution and smaller bills for consumers.

But these smart services will require smarter management of the data they will create and that must run on operators’ networks. As Cisco has shown, providers data traffic concerns will be significant in the next few years even without M2M’s growth fully considered, making traffic management all that more crucial.

As they say, though, necessity is the mother of invention. M2M’s growth will spur broader adoption of related technologies. Automated cloud technologies will pull data to the edges of the network, requiring less traffic to be sent across the core network. The data created by mission-critical devices and services, like an emergency call from a patient’s pace-maker, must get through immediately and not be delayed by mobile video traffic. Services like these require policy control engine to prioritize traffic based on the device transmitting the data and the nature of the data’s urgency.

The last ten years were about the rise in data connectivity and the concept of “smart” devices. These technologies are now understood well enough that, in the next ten years, we will see their principles applied on a vastly larger scale to make every day life simpler and better. It may sound like a line from a science fiction film, but the rise of the smart machines is here.

For more on smart networks, policy and mobile broadband visit the Volubill Blog, VOLUME – Tuned In To Telco


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