IoT 3 mins read

IoT device connectivity: To infinity and beyond

Learn how demand for IoT device connectivity is about to take off in 2022, as projects will require more than one method of connectivity.

Bart Schouw Bart Schouw

There is so much happening in the Internet of Things (IoT) world, that I had to split the team’s 2022 predictions into three parts – here is the third.

In part one, I discussed how digital twins will fulfil their promise in 2022 by being used to solve real-world problems. In part two, I wrapped up how buy-AND-build, pilot purgatory and the quantum revolution will impact IoT.

Here, in part three, I explain why demand for device connectivity is about to take off. Here are my last three predictions:

1. Device connectivity becomes a “Swiss knife” tool

You will see a steady increase in IoT connected device projects that require more than one method of connectivity (e.g. cellular + LoRa), but costs are high and standards are lacking.

One way to accelerate this would be if LPWAN providers adhered to some standardization, making it easier for IoT platform providers to support multiple vendors. However, this is not an attractive choice for the LPWAN providers for the obvious reason that (cheaper) competitors could replace them.

What will make it happen is simply price drops; This will make it possible to cheaply add multiple connectivity standards to a device. IoT platforms will be expected to abstract and normalize them, acting as the do-it-all Swiss knife.

2. It’s a small, small world (to a satellite)

There will be huge hype around low earth orbit satellites for connectivity, but that may be short-lived.

A low earth orbit satellite is an object that orbits the earth at lower altitudes than geosynchronous satellites – normally between 1000 km and 160 km above the earth. They are commonly used for communications, military reconnaissance, spying, and other imaging applications.

In 2022 we will see many more launches, where companies are aiming for complete worldwide connectivity at fast speeds and with low latency.

Although there will be a huge hype around it in 2022, we predict that it might not stick. Why? The use cases are based on unlocking access to remote locations. And 95% of them are in agriculture. While it goes without saying that the satellite connectivity technology for devices is relatively cheap, the lack of variety in use cases makes you wonder on how to achieve full scale adoption in the long run.

Once the hype settles will find a niche in other areas where cellular coverage is difficult (e.g. Australia or Brazil). As such, it will be at the most a complementary technology.

3. Will 5G give you a great FAN experience?

In 2022, private 5G for IIoT uptake will be slower than the market expected. One of the reasons is that due to the slow adoption of other technologies like the new Wi-Fi 6 standard (that will offer at least four times faster speed than Wi-Fi 5) are catching up.

Therefore, I question whether 5G’s most-hyped use case – Factory Area Networks (FAN) is really going to take off. Sure, very large areas like airports and harbors will benefit from 5G, but factories might be tempted to cover with Wi-Fi. Most assets might have already Wi-Fi connectivity (and not 5G connectivity), so the business case will likely not be good enough to upgrade your brownfield.

The author wants to thank the crowdsourcing team: Phillip Hooker, Milan Petrovic, Tobias Sommer, Kevin Palfreyman and Muhammed Mokthar for their contributions.