The Politics Of The Internet Of Things

The Politics Of The Internet Of Things

The prospective scale of the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to fill anyone looking from the outside with the technical equivalent of agoraphobia. However, from the inside, the view is very different. Looked at in detail, it is a series of intricate threads being aligned by a complex array of organizations. As with any new technological epoch, questions around shape, ownership and regulation are starting to rise. Imagine trying to build the Internet again. It’s like that, but at a bigger scale. The first hurdle is that of technological standards. We are at a pivotal moment in the development of the IoT. As the diversity of connected things grows, so does the potential risk from not allowing each “thing” to talk to one another. This begins with networking standards. From ZigBee to Z-Wave, EnOcean, Bluetooth LE or SigFox and LoRa, there are simply too many competing and incompatible networking standards from which to choose. Luckily enough, things seem to be converging and consolidating. Moreover, the already well-established alliances are regrouping. First in the indoors world, where ZigBee 3.0 is getting closer to Google’s Thread — albeit still challenged by the Bluetooth consortium, who are about to release the Bluetooth mesh standard. More interestingly, the Wi-Fi Alliance is working on IEEE 802.11ah known as HaLow . All three standards specifically target lower power requirements and better range tailored for the IoT. Similarly, in the outdoors world, the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance (working closely with the well-established GSMA, ruling the world of mobile standards) is working on an important piece of the puzzle for the world of smart things: 5G. With increased data range, lower latency and better coverage, it is vital to handle the multitude of individual connections and will be a serious global competitor to […]