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Gearing up for Giga IoT – Webinar Q&A

March 22, 2017


Sanjay Khatri

Today we started to unravel the mystery around the next wave of IoT. Giga IoT, fueled by Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technologies is poised to deliver a “connected everything” future in just a few short years. The real challenge will be in managing and monetizing viable business solutions on a massive scale.

Thank you to everyone who joined today’s webinar, and for all your great questions to propel the conversation. Here you’ll find answers – and if you want an instant replay or missed this session: view this webinar on-demand.

For an added perspective on what we explored today, check out Gearing up for Giga IoT: 3 things to expect with Low-Power Network solutions.

What are the benefits of licensed LPWANs vs. unlicensed flavors like LoRa?

When we think about licensed LPWANs, we think about restricted airwaves, technology purchased and managed by mobile network operators. As such, we can expect more sophisticated levels of dedicated allocation and security, less interference and so on. Unlicensed networks are like “free airwaves,” and thus, the shared nature of these technologies carries potentially more risk of security breaches and interference. However, in isolated, low-risk point solutions such as a campus environment or rural agricultural setting, an unlicensed network solution like LoRa might be sufficient.

You talked about the change from usage-based to outcomes-based models, but how will that look in real life? How will this be billed?

The key is to move away from usage, focusing on how much data is consumed – and start monetizing events that are driving business outcomes. Not all events are equal, and you can start differentiating within a connected solution that has multiple use cases, to drive more profitable growth. For example, a city may be monitoring both traffic lights and trashcans, but an alert about a full trash can is quite different than an alert that a traffic light has gone out. The service provider may dedicate more network resources towards ensuring that traffic light has higher level of service availability, by ensuring good coverage.  Thus, events from the traffic light may be monetized at a higher value than the trash can. 

Do you think the analyst projections for NB-IoT growth are realistic? What’s standing in the way of mass adoption today?

There are a lot of projections on where this growth will take us, and like most, the numbers are a little inflated. We’re seeing some lag time in technologies being ready for the type of mass deployments that will drive the predicted volumes. That said, we are seeing solutions emerge and take hold quickly, and when they begin to combine LTE-M, NB-IoT and even LoRa, it’s almost certain we’ll get to a billion deployed devices within five years.

What kind of value based service is Cisco Jasper looking to integrate (along with NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRa) when it comes to specific examples?

The Cisco Jasper connectivity management platform, Control Center, is horizontal, supporting every industry. We continue to architect for a diversity of use cases, including low-cost, LPWAN applications such as connected waste management and smart city lighting systems. We take a holistic approach to IoT with a solution for efficient and cost-effective management of connected devices across the entire spectrum, from traditional high value, high bandwidth use like connected cars to a low-cost, low-power landscape watering monitor deployed in the thousands across thousands of cities.

Does the 3GPP still view LTE-M2 and NB-IoT as separate technological paths (one a LTE software enhancement and the other operating separately from LTE)?

LTE-M2 and NB-IoT are the same. However, contrary to the “LTE” designation, NB-IoT is outside the LTE construct. NB-IoT can be deployed on LTE base stations by using a guard band by applying a software upgrade to such base stations. Additionally, NB-IoT can be deployed independently (as a separate band) or by using a refarmed 200-KhZ band used for GSM. For more information on these emerging technologies, check out LinkLabs.

While I agree on the mix between licensed and unlicensed deployments, would you subscribe to the theory of ‘disruptive innovation’ where the cheaper, lower functionality (LoRa/Sigfox) grow and mature over time to disrupt the more expensive LTE-M/NB-IoT?

We expect there will be a healthy mix of these technologies, although there will be some level of narrowing down. It will be hard to sustain five or six access technologies, but rare to find a single solution that solves for everything. LoRa and Sigfox will have a role to play, but it will depend on whether they are the best option for a specific use case. For example, with a track and trace asset management application that is highly mobile, NB-IoT and LoRa may not be right option – LTE-M may be more appropriate becase it handles mobility better than the other technologies. Thus, based on the diversity and types of devices to connect, certain technologies will be more disruptive than others. But given the risk factors, it’s also unlikely that one will emerge as top dog and crowd out all the others.

Up to now, Control Center is very focused on SIM-based connectivity management. How does this solution work for non-SIM-based LoRa/Sigfox type LPWAN device management? Does it also cater to device authorization and registration for these technologies, or act as an AEP?

The Control Center IoT platform is fundamentally about managing connectivity – so it’s designed to be agnostic when it comes to access technologies. While our focus has been around SIM-based, GSM-based technology, as part of the larger Cisco organization (which is a founding member of the LoRa alliance), it is well within our overall plans to support alternative technologies. Control Center already has many robust capabilities for device authorization, registration, and security, and we’ll continue to expand support for both SIM-based and non-SIM based devices.

In terms of AEP (application enablement platform), through our strong technology partnerships, Control Center supports seamless integration with leading platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cumilocity, and others.

When will Cisco Jasper Control Center be available to all Cisco partners?

Control Center is available exclusively through mobile network operators, making it convenient for businesses around the globe to get the connectivity services they need, along with an IoT platform to manage all their connected devices. We partner with more than 50 tier-one service providers, representing devices across 550 operator networks worldwide – a very broad footprint making the platform accessible to enterprises everywhere.

If you missed today’s webinar, you can view this webinar on demand.

For an added perspective on what we explored today, check out Gearing up for Giga IoT: 3 things to expect with Low-Power Network solutions.

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