Cellular technologies such as 3GPP LTE-M ‘won’t be realised until at least 2020’, says Horn

John Horn, CEO of Ingenu

It’s that time again, when our contributors dust off their crystal ball, say Ommm, and take a view of the year ahead and IoT’s longer term future. In the coming days we will bring you their words of wisdom and experience, starting with John Horn, CEO of US-based Ingenu.

Ingenu is building a ‘Machine Network’ designed specifically to meet the demand for connectivity from machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. As Jeremy Cowan reports, Ingenu’s John Horn, an industry veteran of T-Mobile, RacoWireless, has firm views on what’s working — and what’s not — in the IoT.

Horn says, “They say that the best predictor of the future is the past. With that in mind, it’s quite easy to predict when LTE-M may become a real IoT option. The 3GPP has been working on Rel-12 and Rel-13 to establish standards for what machine-dedicated LTE connectivity might look like.

“Looking back, this story is awfully similar to the early beginnings of LTE. LTE standardisation discussions began in earnest in 2004. Today, more than 10 years later, LTE continues to be rolled out. Sure,2 he concedes, “many lessons have been learned and capital investments made, but we still face an ecosystem that is not nearly as mature as the handset ecosystem was several years ago.”

“Because of that,” Horn says, “I believe that cellular technologies such as 3GPP LTE-M won’t materially be realised until at least 2020. When you look historically at how long it takes for all of the pieces to be pulled together for a new network standard, even 2020 may be optimistic.”

He also believes that the 2G sunset is going to cause more industry chaos than anyone expects. “The sunset has already started, and organisations all think they have plenty of time to transition their IoT strategy beyond 2G. They don’t. We’ll begin to see a series of strange bedfellows as partnerships emerge to help the growing demand M2M and IoT are putting on networks. Low Power Wide Area (LPWA)-type networks will prove a strong competitive force to cellular as networks are built out and traffic demands increase.”

On a positive note, tremendous strides forward in battery technology will extend battery life up to 10 years and beyond. This is becoming increasingly critical, as companies want to “set it and forget it” as much as possible.

Finally, Horn believes that “Smart City initiatives will continue to grow as municipalities connect the dots, and we’ll see at least one Smart City initiative emerge in 2016 that will set a high bar for others to follow.”

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