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The Future of Connectivity: How IoT Is Evolving?

In the past few decades, connectivity has revolutionized how we go about our daily lives and conduct business. Almost every sector has...

Written by Niel Patel · 4 min read >
Protocols Used in IoT

In the past few decades, connectivity has revolutionized how we go about our daily lives and conduct business. Almost every sector has embraced connected devices from factories to homes and hospitals to farms to collect, display, and use information from sensors. However, we often adapt old devices to fit new purposes. For example, using computers to surf the web, phones to communicate, or powerlines to deliver electricity. The diversity of today’s connectivity ecosystem has brought businesses immense benefits, such as automation, insights, and advanced capabilities.

This article will explore how the Internet of Things (IoT) is evolving to address the challenges and opportunities of modern connectivity. We will examine recent developments and trends to predict what the future holds for connectivity.

Top Healthcare IoT Companies WorldWide

What’s the Future of Connectivity?

The future of connectivity looks promising, as billions of IoT devices are already in use globally. With the demand for more devices, faster data speeds, and power-efficient features increasing, connectivity technology is evolving rapidly. Let’s look at some of the significant developments we can expect to witness in the near future of connectivity.

The Widespread availability of 5G 

5G technology has already been introduced, but its availability is currently limited. Compared to 2G, 3G, and 4G networks that have had decades to establish infrastructure worldwide, 5G is mostly available in big cities and at lower frequencies. It will take more time for high-speed 5G to become widely accessible.

However, the benefits of 5G are hard to ignore. It offers faster data speeds, higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more advanced capabilities. On average, 5G is five times faster than 4G, and it has the potential to be 100 times faster. 5G’s lower latency makes it the preferred choice for self-driving cars, healthcare applications, and other time-sensitive processes.

Once cellular carriers establish more infrastructure, 5G is expected to become the go-to for cellular IoT.

Heightened Signal Interference

Every network operates on specific frequency bands within the radio spectrum, and all devices on that network must share these bands. When too many devices are close to each other on the same band, transmissions between them can interfere with each other. While cellular carriers have licensed frequencies to avoid interference, some connectivity solutions, like WiFi and LoRaWAN networks, share the same bands, making them more susceptible to interference.

As the number of IoT devices grows, signal interference will become an even bigger issue. Statista predicts that there will be 75 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2025, several times more than we have today. However, the IoT industry is already working on solutions to address this challenge.

A Broader Range Of Connectivity Options

Currently, many connectivity solutions are available for connecting devices to each other, networks, and servers. There are many choices, from well-known options like cellular, Bluetooth, and WiFi networks to more specialized solutions like meter bus, Zigbee, and power line communication. Even within cellular networks, there are specific solutions designed for IoT, such as NB-IoT and LTE-M.

Each of these solutions is suited to different applications, and most of them have growing markets. However, as technology evolves to accommodate the new environments and ways in which we use connected devices, we can expect the number of connectivity solutions to continue to expand. There will be an even broader range of connectivity options in the future, adding complexity for IoT manufacturers and businesses that rely on them.

Consolidation of network infrastructure

Cellular carriers worldwide are phasing out their 2G and 3G networks to make more bandwidth available for their newer networks. While this may be problematic for IoT businesses that depend on this older technology, it’s a necessary step toward making 4G and 5G networks more widely available. Some vendors are also choosing to focus on the best connectivity solutions available, as seen with Bouygues Telecom’s move away from LoRaWAN in favor of NB-IoT and LTE-M.

A simplified global connectivity

Businesses that need to connect devices together have two options: build their own network infrastructure or use an existing one. Cellular networks are a popular choice for IoT because they have scalable global coverage. However, using a cellular network traditionally required a contract with a specific provider in each country, making it difficult for global businesses to maintain service worldwide. 

Emnify, a cellular connectivity provider, has solved this issue by partnering with MNOs in nearly 200 countries, allowing devices to connect to cellular networks worldwide with a single IoT SIM card. But challenges remain, as some countries need to allow SIMs to permanently roam and provisioning new SIM profiles can be time-consuming and expensive. 

The release of eSIMs is making this process simpler, allowing businesses to push new carrier profiles to their SIMs without the need for costly integrations between carriers, making global deployments faster, easier, and more affordable.

The disappearance of physical SIM cards

The advancement of SIM technology has made SIM cards smaller, more efficient, and more durable, which has given manufacturers greater flexibility when designing their devices. The latest development in SIM technology is the Integrated SIM (iSIM), which is embedded in the device and is part of the System on Chip (SoC). 

The iSIM has a dedicated Tamper-Resistant Element (TRE) space on the SoC. As a result, in the future, device manufacturers will have to worry less about how their device’s connectivity solution will impact its design because they will be able to build the devices they imagine more easily.

Satellite communication integration

Yes, you heard right. This new standard by 3GPP is called Release 16, and it includes support for Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) like satellites, which can provide a fallback connectivity solution for NB-IoT devices when terrestrial networks are unavailable. 

This is particularly useful for IoT devices that need to operate in remote or hard-to-reach areas where cellular coverage may be limited or non-existent. By integrating NTN support into NB-IoT modules, manufacturers can create more reliable and resilient IoT devices that can maintain connectivity even in challenging environments.

Security is being shifted from devices to networks

Connected devices have always been vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is especially true for smaller devices that have limited data throughput and power. Implementing cybersecurity measures on the device itself is challenging, as firmware updates are often required. However, new network technologies are emerging to address this issue. IoT SAFE is one such technology that takes care of security by providing authentication certificates on the SIM. This allows devices to securely connect to cloud providers, making the process simpler and more efficient.

Enterprises gaining greater control over their connectivity

Given the risks posed by every new connected device and network technology, it’s not surprising that enterprises are wary of anything that could create additional vulnerabilities. However, private 4G and private 5G connectivity solutions can offer these organizations more control over their network’s coverage, availability, and security.

Time to prepare your IoT business for the future!

In conclusion, the future of connectivity looks promising, with the rapid evolution of IoT technology to meet the demands of businesses and consumers. The availability of 5G, a broader range of connectivity options, and consolidation of network infrastructure are some of the significant developments expected in the near future of connectivity. 

However, with the growing number of IoT devices and expanding growth of IoT services, signal interference will become a significant challenge, but the IoT industry is already working on solutions to address it. Using eSIMs and iSIMs will simplify global connectivity and device design, and integrating satellite communication will further enhance IoT capabilities. Overall, connectivity will continue to transform the way we live, work, and interact with technology.

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