As expected, I heard about a lot of cutting-edge technologies at Cable-Tec. While – as you might expect – the Cloud was a hot topic, what really struck me were a few whispers about the Internet-of-Things (IoT). While nothing imminent nor distinct was mentioned, it made me glad to know I’m not the only one pondering what a world with tens of billions of connected devices could mean for operators.
Yes, I wrote tens of billions.
The numbers don’t come from me, but from the analysts at Gartner and ABI Research. ABI expects there to be more than 30 billion devices wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020, while Gartner is more conservative projecting a still massive 26 billion devices in 2020.
I may be biased, but I think cable is in an excellent position to both facilitate and profit handsomely from the impending IoT revolution.
From its humble beginnings, cable has invested in technology. We’ve seen one-way networks suitable only for the delivery of analog programming transformed into two-way, fiber-rich “smart pipes” with the capacity to deliver a plethora of digital video, telephony, high-speed data and even home security services to consumers and businesses. Unlike satellite operators, cable is continually finding new ways to leverage its networks to deliver its own services, rather than charge smarter guys for leasing its bandwidth.
What’s more, when you think about some of the key requirements of the IoT, you realize that cable is indeed well positioned. The need for reliable two-way bandwidth is obvious, and likely you recognize that the robust quality of service (QoS) capabilities IoT will require are already proven in cable. Additionally, security is of paramount concern, and clearly cable has decades of experience securely delivering content to millions of subscribers. Then consider that cable passes tens of millions of homes and businesses across the country and that operators are rapidly expanding their deployments of public Wi-Fi hotspots and you’ll probably come to the same conclusion I have: IoT represents a tremendous opportunity for operators.
Clearly we’re at the beginning of a revolution, with a lot of work first needing to be done by standards bodies, the vendor community, regulators, operators, chip companies and many others, but IoT is coming and it’s good news for operators.