IoT networks overview

The Internet is a living entity, always changing and evolving. New applications and businesses are created continuously. In addition to an evolving Internet, technology is also changing the landscape. Broadband connectivity is becoming cheap and ubiquitous ; devices are becoming more powerful and smaller with a variety of on-board sensors. The proliferation of more devices becoming connected is leading to a new paradigm : the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is driven by an expansion of the Internet through the inclusion of physical objects combined with an ability to provide smarter services to the environment as more data becomes available [1]. We’re hearing more and more about IoT (Internet of Things) and how it will revolution our lives and our way of working. The thing is that is already here everywhere and you’re even carrying it everyday, your smart phones, tablets, watches …

The projects are ambitious and every one is fightings for to lead the run. One number, 25 billion connected « things » by 2020 according to Gartner, IoT will become a $7 trillion business in that same year. The different actors are mainly the networks providers, the manufacturers, the designers and finally the owners.

In this article we will try to do an exhaustive overview of the network providers and a short description of their technologies, a serie of article will do complete the description of the main actors of this industry.

IoT (the Internet of Things), is a novel paradigm that is rapidly gaining ground in the scenario of modern wireless telecommunications. The basic idea of this concept is the pervasive presence around us of a variety of things or objects – such as Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) tags, sensors, actuators, mobile phones, etc. – which, through unique addressing schemes, are able to interact with each other and cooperate with their neighbors to  reach common goals [2]. The third revolution is a whole new world coming, people will evolve in a connected world where technologies will change life.

These challenges imply a war of networks. Which technology will win ? And why ? Those questions are challenging the manufacturer and the companies developing IoT products. The low-power wide-area (LPWA) market is in a hype cycle that is closely tracking the evolution of IoT.

How to use it ?

The march towards a world of connected environment means a wide range of applications. We will be able to monitor and use the collected data and made them come alive with machine learning.

  • Environmental monitoring
  • Infrastructure management
  • Smart cities
  • Manufacturing
  • Media
  • Agriculture
  • Energy management
  • Medical and healthcare
  • Building and home automation
  • Smart cities
  • Transportation


The following figure is a projection of strategy analytics for the applications of the LPWA (Low Power Wide area) technologies.

Figure 1 : Global LPWA connections share by application (millions) [3]

The hierarchization of these applications can possibly be done according to different criteria. Depending on who is looking, it changes a lot. The economic argument is one of the most important regardless of the target, will it be a good investment with an important ROI ? Will it improve the profitability ? Will it simplify the process and increase success chances ? I am tempted to answer yes to these questions; to the condition of making it intelligent with a thoughtful reflection on what to implement, how to do it and based on which technology.

Which network ?  

The IoT network competition is open. New and older players are competing for leading the market. We can resum the network in three main kind of networks  based on the range and energy consumption ex : LAN (Local Area Network), LPWAN (Low power Wide Area Network), Cellular LPWAN (NB-IoT and LTE-M) and cellular.

The categories of wireless networks are divided in three main kind short-range, medium range and long range. The following figures represent an overview of them.

Figure 2 : IoT standards according to their data rate, range and consumption summation.

Building a successful IoT solution is all about matching your connectivity needs to the right technology or mix of technologies. Whether you choose one network technology or take a multi network approach, you want the path forward with the best blend of coverage, performance, and value, you have to have in mind few furthers : Coverage, mobility, Throughput, Battery, Latency, Cost, Lifespan, Interoperability, Roaming, Security.

Wireless networks are generally sought to avoid strong constraints of installation and cabling, cost reduction and their ability to address industrial spaces with difficult access.

In addition to local network solutions such as a WiFi network or Lora, Sigfox or NB-IoT remote and operated networks, standard communication protocols have been designed and are available for industrial environment: WirelessHART, ISA100.11a or IEEE 802.15.4e. They provide a strong basis for the construction of meshed networks in contexts where network reliability, data resilience, data synchronization and large amount of data collection are indisputable constraints.

We gave an overview of the existing technologies, the stakes are numerous and strategic.

Why adopting it ?

It is clear from this overview that IoT are vast and cover varied areas. They can integrate various components, algorithms, communication protocols, middleware, data and services of a different nature. The data collected  from different sources and exchanged in the network, are highly heterogeneous, disparate and represent an increasingly voluminous mass. It is clear that the intelligent use of these data can be transformed in a competitive advantage for businesses. The Internet of Things can be modelled to reduce costs optimize the supply chain from production to deliv. It is also environment friendly a source of innovation and very easy to use.

[1] L. Coetzee and J. Eksteen, « The Internet of Things – promise for the future? An introduction, » 2011 IST-Africa Conference Proceedings, Gaborone, 2011, pp. 1-9.

[2] D. Giusto, A. Iera, G. Morabito, L. Atzori (Eds.), The Internet of Things, Springer, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4419-1673-0.

[3] GSMA white paper, 3GPP Low power wide area technologies.

Phd Sabeha ZEDEK / Innovation Manager

Written by

sabeha-axibleSabeha Zedek, Innovation Manager

2018-03-27T16:32:56+00:00August 2nd, 2017|Market|