Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the millions, or billions, of devices that will be connected to the Internet, enabling communication between machines, and between people and machines. Although large pieces of the IoT puzzle remain uncertain, the ecosystem is beginning to take shape, and we’re starting to see leaders emerge in terms of software platforms, data analytics systems, and even the underlying network technologies.
With that in mind, SDxCentral has compiled a list of six IoT terms that we think will help you understand this burgeoning area and stay on top of the latest developments.
CAT-M or LTE-M
CAT-M, or Category-Machine, refers to the second generation of LTE chipsets meant for a wide range of IoT applications but available on fairly low-cost devices. CAT-M is sometimes referred to as LTE-M, which is a simplified industry term and is used by the 3GPP because it is part of the standards group’s release 13 specification. CAT-M uses 1.4 megahertz bandwidth, which is notable when compared to its predecessor, CAT-1, which uses up to 20 megahertz of bandwidth.
A number of service providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have launched CAT-M networks. In March, Verizon said its CAT-M network was available nationwide, and in May AT&T said its CAT-M network was available nationwide. AT&T also said that it would have CAT-M available in Mexico by year-end. Interestingly, Sprint currently has an LTE CAT-1 network but has said it will upgrade its network to CAT-M in mid-2018.
Analyst Firm ABI predicted that beginning in 2018, CAT-M technology will see its greatest growth.
EdgeX is the Linux Foundation’s open source IoT group that was founded in April of this year. The group’s primary focus is to standardize industrial IoT edge computing and build a common framework. The project combines the work of the Linux’s IoTX and Dell, which developed its FUSE software for IoT.
The common framework will be hosted within a hardware and OS-agnostic reference software platform. It will allow components to be plug-and-play, which in turn will accelerate the deployment of the technology.
Since its formation, the group has started to grow its membership and establish its governing board. It has also launched a series of training sessions for developers. In September, EdgeX released its first code release, Barcelona, to decrease the complexity of IoT.
EdgeX is now working alongside the Industrial Internet Consortium to maximize both organizations’ efforts.
Industrial IoT refers to a sector of IoT as it applies to specific use cases across manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, transportation, energy/utilities, mining, aviation, and other industrial sectors. The industrial IoT primarily seeks to optimize operational efficiency, automation, and maintenance.
While this market hasn’t been fully realized yet, the industrial IoT promises to bring about innovations in automation, smart industry, industrial control, and asset performance management. According to ACG Research, cloud-native edge computing platforms in diverse radio access networks (RAN) will make Industrial IoT possible.
GE Digital predicts that 40 percent of the global economy could benefit from the technology, and it could be a $225 billion market by the end of 2020.
LoRa or LoRaWAN
LoRa, which stands for Long Range, is a wireless modulation scheme for long-range, low-power, low-data-rate applications that use unlicensed spectrum. LoRa is often used interchangeably with LoRaWAN, which is basically a long-range wide area network. The LoRa Alliance is a non-profit group that was formed to create standards around LoRaWAN. The LoRa Alliance defines LoRaWAN as a technology that will provide seamless interoperability among smart “things” and enable the deployment of IoT networks.
A number of service providers are rolling out and trialing LoRaWAN. Comcast is working with Semtech, which makes LoRa chipsets, and is testing the LoRaWAN protocol in Philadelphia and San Francisco; Cisco has deployed a LoRaWAN network in a German airport based upon its own LoRaWAN modules and industrial routers; and Senet has been deploying LoRa networks using the LoRaWAN protocol in a number of vertical industries, such as metering, agriculture, and oil and gas.
Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence where machines use experience to automatically learn and improve their behavior without having to be programmed. The primary goal of machine learning is to have computers learn automatically without human intervention or assistance.
While machine learning technology can be applied to a number of different areas, its ability to export, analyze, and leverage data in a number of locations makes it a perfect fit for IoT. Because IoT is such a data-intensive business, machine learning will be necessary to continuously improve and develop smarter IoT processes.
Several IoT companies are incorporating machine learning in their platforms. SAP’s Leonardo platform embraces technologies such as big data, analytics, blockchain, and machine learning, and IBM’s Watson relies on artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics.
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a low-power, wide-area technology that was established in June 2016 and is considered part of the 3GPP standard. The technology was developed to enable a wide range of new IoT devices and services. One of its advantages is that it improves the power consumption of user devices and is spectrally efficient. Because of this, the battery life of end user devices can often last 10 years or more, making it appealing for a number of use cases.
Several operators have already started testing on NB-IoT. Sonera trialed the technology using Nokia gear late last year; T-Mobile launched a field-trial in Las Vegas using Qualcomm and Ericsson equipment and has said it plans to have a nationwide network in 2018. And SoftBank last year announced plans to launch a NB-IoT network.
Sue Marek contributed to this article.