Cellular tech to threaten wireless push on IoT, claims new report

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Cellular and LPWAN technology could threaten the health of short-range technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 802.15.4 in early stage Internet of Things markets, new research has claimed.

The IoT will account for 15 percent of Wi-Fi device shipments by 2022, ABI Research said, as well as 27 percent of Bluetooth, and more than 60 percent of 802.15.4.

The research firm did not give numeric figures for these technologies but said LPWAN and cellular technologies will ship almost 575 million chipsets by the same stage, far outpacing these other short-range technologies.

Andrew Zignani, Senior Analyst at ABI Research, said: “LPWAN technologies including RPMA, SIGFOX, LoRa, LTE Cat-M1, NB-IoT, and EC-GSM-IoT comprise a very competitive and rapidly evolving IoT connectivity landscape.

“These technologies are specifically designed for IoT and are arguably much better matches for outdoor, larger-scale IoT applications due to their abilities to target greater coverage areas, their ease of deployment, and their greater scalability.

"In contrast, short-range wireless connectivity solutions, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee, are created for computing and consumer applications but are increasingly extended to address IoT verticals, as well.”

Zignani said cellular and LPWAN has the perceived advantage of reliability, as well as the need for less intermediary gateways, support for greater distances between end nodes and scale between networks of few devices and those with hundreds or thousands, all while supporting a low battery life.

The report said short-range wireless technology needed to change to take advantage of mesh networking, offer lower priced chipsets, become more widely availability, add more security, IPv6 support and no service costs.

Zignani added: “IoT markets are diverse, and there is no one size fits all technology solution. 

“Implementers and product designers must make numerous decisions on the required bandwidth, coverage area, capacity, reliability, battery life, cost, security features, topology, and frequency of messages, scalability, among other criteria.

"Only then will many of these technologies be able to carve out success stories despite the strong competitive landscape.”