The taxi world was unchanged for years until innovators took an interest in it. Hailo made it super easy to get a taxi. Uber makes taxis irrelevant. The worst thing for taxi drivers is that they were out of control of their own destiny. What would be the worst nightmares for telecom operators and traditional network equipment providers?
1) voicemails and millions of VAS that customers love
Why would this be a nightmare? Simply the fact that the most likely provider of millions a really valuable communication services is unlikely to be a traditional telecom provider. They haven’t been able to do it for years. Cloud providers or challengers are ideally positioned to add customisable cloud communications to their portfolio. Salesforce already offers WebRTC.
2) Chatty IoT
Billions of dumb and smart things will be connected to the Internet in the next 12-24 months. What if IoT hardware providers see the internet as a free transport layer and share useless data? Any device that sends 200 bytes every 5 seconds and of which 1 million get deployed, provokes 3 petabytes of useless data every day. After 10 days it would have produced an equal amount of data as the total combined literature in any language from the beginning of time until some years ago. There are many devices that could be chatty, e.g. heartbeat monitors, temperature and other sensors in home appliances like fridges, etc.
3) Cheap 4K security cameras
As soon as 4K cameras become cheap (<$50) then a tipping point will push lots of homes and businesses to install them. One cloud company is enough to provoke broadband hell. There is not a single broadband network that can handle 4K video upstreaming at large scale.
4) Mexico’s community mobile operators being successful
In Mexico there are several remote regions that were not served by traditional mobile operators. The Mexican government allowed anybody to use spectrum in these regions to build alternatives options. The innovators have moved in. What if they become too successful and customers like their services more than what traditional mobile operators are providing?
5) An innovator that uses technology to provoke telecom havoc
Until now over the top players have ignored telecom operators and are trying to eat their lunch. What if the next innovator designs solutions in such a way that operators can choose between the stick and the carrot? Ignore them and suffer or play according to their rules. It is easier to do than operators think…
IoT is one of the biggest potential new revenue streams but also one of the most challenging technical problems we have today.
the technical challenges
IoT is not only sensors + Big Data analytics + cloud + short-range low-energy networking and Internet. The real problem is that you have to be good at many different technologies that used to be separate and that one mistake can have disastrous effects. You have to be good at miniature sensors that need to be able to run two years on one tiny battery and use software that even the biggest geek hates to work on. At making sure IPv6 networking is adjusted to this small footprint devices with innovations like CoAP and 6LoWPAN. To learn about the world of micro-controllers open source hardware like Arduino, micro-computing platforms like Raspberry Pi and Edison, ARM Cortex, Intel Quark, etc. You also need to know about new and old low-energy networking technologies like Zigbee, Bluetooth Low-Energy, etc. Afterwards you want your sensors to be connected to a hub because otherwise you would need a SIM or Wifi in each sensor which would drain battery. So you need to make a smart hub that ideally can run apps from different developers and can support lots of new devices. However you also want devices to support peer-to-peer technologies like Thread or new standards from Intel, Qualcomm or any of the numerous standardisation bodies. You want to use 3D printing to print an attractive casing. You want to use crowd-funding to sell your Smarthub. You want mobile apps to work flawlessly with IoT. You need to know about Powerline, gesture control, in-building location tracking, voice control, etc. if you want to compete with the best smart hubs. You now need to know GPRS, 3G, 4G, White Spaces, Long-Haul Radio, WiFi or fiber broadband to communicate with the rest of the world. On the cloud side, being it public or a private OpenStack, you need to use the latest DevOps tools, Cloud Orchestration tools and containers like Docker, to deploy scale-out queues, real-time stream processing and other Big Data analytics solutions. You need to be able to train deep belief networks and push models to hubs and sensors. Recognise threatening video images. You need to be able to do rolling upgrades and continuous deployment of updates, developer apps, etc. Manage operations of millions of devices and billions of sensors. You want a store. A developer eco-system.
Now when you finally mastered all of this. Make one security mistake and a hacker on the other side of the world is able to control your house, business, city or country.
Now the business opportunities are huge as well. Save a couple of percentage on the production costs of a car and you can save hundreds of millions. Track a global epidemic or the vital signs of a billion people and you can save millions of lives. Give millions of developers a new way to channel their creativity and the Angry Bird of IoT will bring new industries. The one that changes the habits of people will be the next billionaire.
Where is the money? Industrial IoT. Where is the innovation? Home automation and wearables. You can’t pick one. You need to connect innovation with money if you want to lead the IoT revolution. If somebody else does it for you, they can make your solution irrelevant.
In the computing trend that will change everything, MIT’s Technology Review is showing how power consumption for computer resources has improved at the same speeds as computer chips. Especially the analogy of a Macbook Air with the efficiency of a PC from 1991 would run through a fully charged battery in 2.5 seconds. The trend is to continue with wireless no-batteries sensors. Sensors that get their energy from harvesting existing radio waves. Find out more on powering the internet of things without batteries.
Imagine the possibilities if sensors did no longer have to have batteries. Everything from traffic, the weather, human health, retail, etc. can be revolutionized. Mobile sensors will start generating massive amounts of data, called nanodata. The sensors are unlikely to hold a SIM because of the importance of energy efficiency. Operators should look for M2M business models that go further than only connectivity and should think about low-cost and low-energy wireless mesh networks instead of 3G/4G/5G…
Arrayent caught my eye the other day. They are a small startup that invented a very low cost way to connect sensors to a gateway and on to the cloud. Each device would need a $2 module extension in order for it to talk to the gateway. The gateway costs $5 and hooks up to an ethernet access point. The nice thing about the Arrayent solution is that the sensors are like mini webservers that can be controlled from the Cloud via simple REST APIs. Data can flow from the sensors to the Cloud as well. Via a mobile phone or tablet you are able to control remotely the sensors or understand the data that is provided by them. Developers can easily create applications.
Wireline operators should see this as an opportunity to offer M2M Cloud services without SIMs. Via a M2M PaaS, developers could create applications and sell them to consumers and businesses. Home automation could be a great example, however not the typical thousands of Euros example in which you need to rewire your house to get your blinds to go down automatically.
Instead who would say no to a bunch of low-cost flood, heat, gas, freeze, electricity, etc. sensors that automatically connect to your operator’s router and send information to the Cloud. The moment you have a water flooding, fire, gas leak, freezer that stopped working, power outage, etc. you get a call on your mobile via an automated IVR. With a two-year contract, your house is 24×7 protected for a small monthly fee without upfront investment.
Combining a SIM with the gateway would make it a viable solution for wireless operators that want to offer Cloud-based industrial sensor networks in remote locations…
Although the video seems to be ahead of the software, the vision of mobicents for the cloud is disruptive. The economics of setting up a global communication infrastructure in the cloud and integrate it with Web 2.0, Smartphones, Internet of Things, etc. will drastically change when first-class open source solutions will be available: