How Do IoT Devices Work?
In a very general sense, IoT refers to a broad range of internet-connected devices capable of communicating with other devices and networks. While they can perform a variety of functions their inherent value is the information they gather to perform specific actions. While many IoT devices have the ability to process data, some are only intended to gather and transmit data elsewhere for processing.
IoT devices contain either sensors or microprocessors that collect, typically, environmental data, which enables the device to act on that data. For example, smart thermostats gather data about temperatures and humidity and, when both get too high, the device can start the air conditioning. What makes IoT devices so valuable, and so appealing to the consumer, is that they are “smart.” They are able to engage in the kind of computer learning that enables them to collect and recall data which allows them to adjust to personal preferences. Revisiting the example, this means a person’s thermostat will remember the temperature they prefer at a given hour and adjust for that without human input.
While the consumer applications of IoT are flashier, there’s no shortage of their application in industries from manufacturing to medical where the technology enables automation strategies to control a variety of tasks and functions remotely.
The IoT and Data
We’d be remiss in a blog about statistics if we didn’t touch on the value of IoT data. The value to consumers is pretty straightforward in terms of time and cost saving elements, but what should also be clear, at this point in the evolution of the IoT is the value to businesses and organizations as well. Not only does the data gathered have the potential to optimize current products and services by providing valuable information about how they are used, but it also has the potential to unlock wholly new opportunities to fulfill needs.
The IoT is a pathway to big data, a notable industry buzzword for some time now. Big data is determined in large part by its volume (thus the moniker “big”), but is also informed by speed, accuracy, and variety. That is, big data is the amassment of a lot of verifiable information, delivered quickly, from a wide range of sources. Sounds an awful lot like IoT, no? Yes, but no.
The two concepts are different, but work together pretty closely. The IoT functions on its ability to take in a lot of data, analyze it quickly (such as it’s hot in here), and react. Big data doesn’t require the quick turnaround of analysis, but, that’s where the value of the IoT data comes into play. The strategies of big data, when applied to the IoT data, are what will enable businesses, adept at analytics, to translate the data gathered into the decisions that will drive their businesses forward.
IoT Statistics: Growth Rate
1. There Will be 41 Billion IoT Devices by 2027
That’s a lot of devices. When looking at the raw number of connected devices Business Insider predicts will be connected to the internet by the end of the decade, it’s easy to lose sight of how large the figure actually is. For context, take a moment to look at the difference between a million and a billion in terms of time:
One million seconds is roughly equal to 11.5 days.
One billion seconds is roughly equal to 31.75 years.
The difference between a few million IoT devices and a few billion, then, is quite staggering. Other estimates that push IoT projections farther into the future provide even more striking numbers, forecasting as many as 125 billion IoT devices by 2030.
2. By 2023, 70% of Automobiles Will Be Connected to the Internet
Autonomous vehicles are coming, whether people like it or not. While precise numbers are difficult to determine, the automotive industry alone has invested over $100 billion on research and development of self-driving cars over the last five years alone. While driverless cars may not be taking over the highways soon, their need to gather and analyze huge amounts of data will demand more sophisticated edge data centers capable of directing the resulting digital traffic.
Even if self-driving vehicles aren’t here yet, existing automobiles are increasingly incorporating IoT features. From sensors that transmit usage and mechanical condition data to manufacturers and dispatchers to internet connectivity that facilitates better GPS and driver comfort, today’s vehicles offer as much connectivity as the modern home. The computing power that makes this connectivity possible will make IoT-enabled vehicles valuable tools in edge computing frameworks.
3. Every Second, Another 127 Devices Are Connected to The Internet
Increasingly, IoT devices are popping up everywhere. Former Cisco researcher David Evans, who calculated just how many devices were being added every second, provides a glimpse into how widespread they’ve already become:
…“things” are no longer just computers and phones. Today, literally anything can be connected, including tennis rackets, diapers, clothing, vehicles, and, of course, homes. And although people may find this unsettling, the network is also starting to include biological things: Today, pets, crops, livestock, and the clothing on your body can be connected. We’re not far from an Internet link you can actually swallow as a pill.
With so many devices proliferating, IT professionals will need to be much more aware of potential security threats. Each device represents a different attack vector for hackers, and with so many devices coming and going in the workplace, companies must become more diligent in managing access.
4. There Will Be 1.9 Billion 5G Cellular Subscriptions by 2024
In a 2019 report on the mobile industry, Ericsson predicts that the rapid expansion of 5G availability will continue to drive Internet of Things growth. The North American market is expected to see the most growth, with 63 percent of mobile subscriptions featuring 5G service, but 47 percent of cellular subscribers in East Asia will have 5G access as well. Short-range IoT devices are expected to see the greatest benefits from these connections. Wide-area and cellular internet-connected devices should also continue to contribute more to total cellular data traffic, which increased by 82 percent in the first quarter of 2019 alone. Much of this IoT growth will be credited to reductions in chipset prices and the expansion of cellular technologies such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1.
5. Companies Will Invest Up to $1.1 Trillion in IoT by 2023
Many companies have already identified IoT devices as a clear value-add for their business. Far from just the technology sector, clothing manufacturers, healthcare providers, and municipalities around the world are investing in new ways to leverage the potential of interconnected devices.
With so much capital pouring into research and development, it’s safe to assume that the IoT market size of the next decade will look very different from today’s. One thing that won’t change, however, will be the importance of edge data centers in IoT networks. This may explain why colocation data centers continue to be a vital IT solution for organizations looking to rapidly scale their operations to make the most of IoT devices.
6. The Total Economic Impact of IoT Could Range Between $4 and $11 Trillion per Year by 2025
Research by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that IoT growth will continue to be rapid despite the fact that many of the most promising applications of the technology have yet to be fully deployed. Many companies already utilizing IoT technology are doing so modestly, such as using smart sensors to track products flowing through their supply chains. However, complementary technologies such as more versatile cloud technology and edge computing architecture will likely enable a rapid expansion of IoT applications. The expansion of 5G technology and reductions in hardware costs are also expected to help increase the widespread adoption of internet-connected devices.
7. The Home IoT Market is Expected to Grow to $53.45 Billion by 2022
Smart home devices, most of which are used to automate lighting, climate, appliances, entertainment, or security systems in a household, are already entering homes in record-breaking numbers. As an example, “smart speaker” devices like the Amazon Echo are already in 31 percent of US broadband households as of Q1 2019, up from a mere seven percent in 2017.
8. By 2024, the Global IoT Healthcare Market is Expected to Reach $140 Billion
Healthcare is one of the most exciting use cases for IoT technology, which is why the market in that sector is expected to grow by 12 percent annually from 2017 to 2023. The potential of telemedicine and wearable sensors will make it possible for medical professionals to better monitor and treat patients, especially in traditionally difficult-to-reach regions. Although the healthcare sector faces unique challenges owing to the compliance demands of HIPAA/HITECH requirements, improvements in IoT security will help the technology to be applied more broadly in the coming years.
IoT Statistics: How to Invest in the Internet of Things
9. Over 80 Percent of Industrial Manufacturing Companies Are Using or Planning to Use IoT Devices
While self-driving cars and smart kitchens snatch most of the IoT headlines, some of the most exciting innovation is taking place in the manufacturing sector. From intelligent machines capable of performing automated tasks to augmented wearables that allow people to work more efficiently and safely, companies are experimenting with new ways of putting the latest IoT innovations to use.
Better data analysis will also enable predictive maintenance, better energy efficiency, and higher overall levels of production uptime. Combined with edge computing architecture, industrial IoT devices will be especially valuable for places where low or non-existent bandwidth has led to data infrastructure challenges in the past. Smart machinery will be able to operate in more places than ever before, helping to boost production, create jobs, and grow the economy.
10. Nine out of Ten Senior Executives in Technology, Media, and Telecom Companies Say IoT Growth is Critical to Their Business
The majority of business leaders in these industries seem to understand the value of investing in comprehensive IoT strategies. Some of that confidence could be due to the early return on investment many companies have already experienced. Research by McKinsey has found that the financial impact of IoT use cases increases as more of those use cases are rolled out. Leading IoT companies anticipate that their IoT efforts will boat gross profits by as much as 13 percent over the next few years. Expanding IoT use cases today also means improving endpoint infrastructure, which will put companies willing to support IoT initiatives in a position of strength and flexibility in the future.
11. Over 60 Percent of US Cities Are Investing in Smart City IoT Technology
Fully interconnected smart cities have the potential to fully unleash the possibilities of IoT, and cities around the world are racing to develop new strategies that use IoT technology to streamline municipal operations and services. While a majority of US cities are already implementing these solutions, another 25 percent are exploring potential IoT applications. On a global scale, the market value of smart city initiatives incorporating IoT and AI is expected to surpass $2 trillion by 2025, with the top 600 smart cities accounting for 60 percent of global GDP.
12. Nearly 90 Percent of Retailers Are Using or Planning to Use IoT to Customize Store Visits
Online shoppers have already come to expect a customized shopping experience thanks to data analytics that allow online retailers to use past purchases and viewing history to promote the type of products customers are likely to find appealing. Thanks to IoT technology, brick-and-mortar stores will soon be able to do the same. With RFID and beacon technologies, companies will be able to actively shape the customer experience the moment someone enters a store. Real-time data from smart price tags will allow stores to be more responsive to purchasing trends and make adjustments to maximize sales. According to PWC research, 58 percent of retailers are already utilizing IoT for a variety of active projects, with another 30 percent planning to do so within the next two years.
Strategies for Managing IoT Data
If the total number of connected devices doesn’t provide enough shock value, the vast amount of data these devices are expected to generate should (as we hinted above). In fact, Cisco expects that total to exceed 800 zettabytes, which is quite a lot considering that a single zettabyte is equal to about a trillion gigabytes (following the time example above, one trillion seconds is equal to about 31,710 years).
For that reason, data centers will play a huge role in managing this information and harnessing its potential. Considering that about 90% of this data will be unstructured, it will be more important than ever for data centers to continue pushing the boundaries of both storage capacity and predictive analytics to keep pace with the demands of IoT.
Also, for that reason, anticipate significant growth in the MSP business as businesses need to extend their IT teams to manage scaling infrastructure, increased security needs, and analyze data.
The not so subtle hint here is: prepare to scale. As noted above in both device and data, for IoT, proliferation is the name of the game. As you gather data, as you improve functionality, services, or products, as the technology itself evolves, it will grow. That is certain. It’s one of the reasons you want to establish a relationship with a data center prepared to scale with you and your business needs.
In partnering with a data center, you also want to ensure reliability, security, and solid connectivity options. All of these will impact device performance and the key to IoT is low-latency. Devices need to be able to respond quickly and this also means edge data centers, closer to the end user.
While IoT devices are clearly already having an impact on the world’s network infrastructure, that influence is only going to grow. Considering the current and projected figures, organizations can position their business plans to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities and mitigate the risks these devices present.
No matter how a company plans to incorporate IoT, a good data center will continue to be a vital partner in that process. Get in touch with our team today to talk about how we can help.
What is 5G?
The next generation of mobile broadband connectivity, 5G differs from traditional 4G LTE networks because it operates on three different spectrum bands as opposed to just one. Most existing cellular services utilize the low-band spectrum, which provides a good coverage area and can penetrate structures to deliver connectivity. Where 5G sets itself apart is through its ability to utilize the mid-band and high-band spectrums. These spectrums don’t penetrate buildings as effectively or cover as broad of an area, but they offer far more available channels for transmitting data over the airwaves. They can also deliver much higher bandwidth and lower latency.
At the moment, most 5G technology is still operating on the low-band spectrum range. These are the same airwaves utilized by 4G networks, so even though many providers are technically offering 5G service, there isn’t a substantial improvement in performance. As the technology and infrastructure mature, however, devices will be able to handle 5G signals across multiple bands. Because high-band signals tend to deteriorate faster over distances than lower-frequency signals, providers will need to install more cellular transmitters to create broader coverage areas. Fortunately, many of these transmitters can simply be bolted onto existing 4G cellular towers or incorporated into other existing structures.
5G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference?
In very practical terms, it comes down to speed. As mentioned previously, 4G cellular devices transmit low-frequency signals across the lowest available spectrum. While it can transmit quite a lot of data, especially compared to previous generations of cellular technology, each signal takes up a sizable chunk of the available airwaves. Imagine, for example, that a typical 4G signal is like a floodlight. It puts out a lot of light, but when multiple lights are being shone in the same area (as is the case with multiple low-frequency devices), the light overlaps and it becomes impossible to determine where the light from one source ends and another ends.
That’s not much of a problem with light, but when it comes to data, it means congestion. All of the available bandwidth is sucked up and the entire network slows to a crawl. This is why the average 4G LTE smartphone typically had a full “five bars” of service when the technology first rolled out, but today is more likely to see only one or two bars during peak usage times. There are simply too many devices and signals competing for the available bandwidth and since those signals are broad (floodlights, remember), they struggle to transmit data effectively.
Things are different on the medium and high-band spectrums. There is much less congestion and the airwaves contain more available channels. With 5G technology, more data can be broadcast over these smaller channels. If a typical 4G low-frequency transmission is like a flood light, a 5G transmission over the medium-band spectrum is more like a high powered flashlight, and a high-spectrum (or millimeter-wave) transmission is like a laser pointer. Since so much of these higher-frequency ranges are not currently being used, 5G technology opens up a massive range of possibilities for future Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing devices. The existing 4G cellular infrastructure simply doesn’t have the space to accommodate so many new devices, even if it could transmit the data quickly enough to operate them (which it can’t do either).
Five 5G Statistics You Need to Know for 2020
1. 5G Networks Will Cover 40% of the World by 2024, Handling 25% of All Mobile Traffic Data
As 5G network connectivity continues to roll out in select markets throughout 2019, more customers will have the opportunity to upgrade to the new service. For the moment, most 5G connections are restricted to wireless technologies associated with home internet service, but a new generation of phones designed for 5G cellular service is already hitting the market. By the end of 2024, there is projected to be 1.5 billion 5G mobile subscriptions. This broad coverage will be essential for enabling a new generation of smart devices, as more than four billion IoT connections are expected within the next five years.
2. 5G Will Be Up to 100 Times Faster Than Current 4G Technology
Existing 4G LTE network technologies are pretty fast, theoretically topping out around 12.5 MB/s (megabytes per second). While actual average speeds usually fall quite a bit below that number due to bandwidth demands (closer to 1.87 MB/s), it’s still fast enough to download a 3 GB movie in about 27 minutes. But 5G technology is expected to deliver speeds of up to 2.5 GB/s (gigabytes per second), with some companies promising to push speeds even higher. Even if the actual average speed isn’t that high due to mitigating network factors (probably closer to 87.5 MB/s), the same 3GB movie would need only 35 seconds to download.
3. A Typical 5G Network Will Support Millions of Devices Per Square Mile
Unlike the massive cell towers used by 4G networks, 5G towers are sometimes called “small cells” because of their size and ability to transmit data over a different part of the radio spectrum. Designed for interconnectivity, multiple 5G towers are deployed across a network to create additional connection points and relay data faster than the centralized cell towers of previous generations. This tower density will allow 5G networks to support far more IoT devices than is currently possible. While today’s 4G networks can accommodate a few thousand devices per square mile, 5G will provide fast network connectivity for millions of devices, opening up tremendous possibilities for industrial IoT applications and the sensor networks of smart cities.
4. Under Optimal Conditions, 5G Latency Will Range Between 1-4 Milliseconds
Latency is caused by the time it takes for a data packet to travel from one point of a network to another. It is primarily a byproduct of physical distance, but the type of connection plays a role as well. Latency can disrupt streaming content and cause a slight delay between when sensor networks take in data, transmit it somewhere else for processing, and then respond. With IoT applications like autonomous vehicles, fast response times with low latency connections are essential. Current 4G networks generally have latency rates between 50-100 milliseconds, but 5G could potentially reduce that rate to 1-4 milliseconds, creating incredibly reliable and high-performance networks.
5. Deploying Fiber Optic Cabling to Enable 5G Networks Will Cost Between $130 to $150 Billion
Since 5G networks rely on a large number of smaller cell towers, most regions seeking to deploy those networks will need to make significant investments in infrastructure, adding as many as three to ten times the number of towers. A study by Deloitte found that the United States will need to invest between $130 to $150 billion in fiber optic cabling to meet the network connectivity demands of these sites. The research firm has also raised concerns about foreign competition in the 5G market, pointing out that China already has far greater tower density (14.1 sites per 10,000 people compared to 4.7 per 10,000 in the United States) and is poised to make additional investments in the coming years.
With the 5G world right around the corner, it’s a good idea for organizations to take a moment and assess the state of the 5G market forecast to determine how it might impact their business. For data centers, 5G network connectivity promises to unleash the full potential of edge computing and IoT. By putting strategies in place today that take advantage of that potential, data centers can deliver better services and provide even greater versatility to their customers.