Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications has been a very big part of the technology market in general over the last few years, but many have been left with questions about this growing field. A new report from Analysis Mason suggests that this may be the year many of these questions get answered.
The current word from Analysis Mason suggests that there will be around 50 million low-power wide area (LPWA) network connections in place by the end of 2016. This will disappoint some, given projections of billions of Internet of Things (IoT) connections overall. Yet this 50 million connections block will be just the beginning, as most LPWA applications are involved large contracts that may take years to complete, according to reports.
Further word suggests high probabilities of major events taking place in 2016, including the beginnings of 3G decommission and the further advance of 2G decommissioning, though some may end up keeping 2G around as a means to supply connectivity for IoT devices. With 5G rapidly approaching, it's not surprising that 3G may see a sharp drop as a result. The biggest development in M2M will be the connected car—over 800 million connected cars may be in play by 2020—and there's an outside possibility that the IoT may begin to talk back, allowing users to take advantage of real time communications tools to make voice or video calls thanks to Web-based real time communications (WebRTC).
Some even project that the IoT and WebRTC will start intermingling much more in 2016, complete with the addition of big data to help derive actionable insight from all that communication going back and forth. The three are indeed a natural progression; IoT systems gather data about the environment, WebRTC generates data from human speech and conversation, and big data takes all that data as raw fodder for analysis, turning it into useful insight.
There's a lot of room for the IoT market to mature going forward. We're only just getting started with it, as we develop everything from fleet telematics to beacon technology in retail stores and beyond. Start throwing in other technologies like big data and WebRTC and the IoT's opportunities only rise from there. To expect 2016 to be a year of answers for IoT, at least if one means “conclusive” answers, might be a bridge too far. Every new answer that's generated will likely spawn a set of questions in its wake as we figure out how best to put the new answers to use.
It's the difference between pure and applied science, in a way; we've discovered what IoT can do, particularly with other technologies, and now we have to find a way to put it to work. Even as we find these new ways, a whole new set of questions will crop up, and these will require answers as well.