Big Four carriers want to rule IoT by simplifying it

The Internet of Things promises a transformative impact on a wide range of industries, but along with that promise comes an enormous new level of complexity for the network and those in charge of maintaining it. For the major mobile data carriers in the U.S., that fact suggests an opportunity.

The core of the carriers’ appeal for IoT users is simplicity. Opting for Verizon or AT&T instead of in-house connectivity removes a huge amount of the work involved in pulling an IoT implementation together.

Operationally, it’s the same story. The carrier is handling the network management and security functionality, and everything involved in the connectivity piece is available through a centralized management console.

The carriers’ approach to the IoT market is two-pronged, in that they sell connectivity services directly to end-users as well as selling connectivity wholesale to device makers. For example, one customer might buy a bunch of sensors directly from Verizon, while another might buy equipment from a specialist manufacturer that contracts with Verizon to provide connectivity.

There are, experts agree, numerous advantages to simply handing off the wireless networking of an IoT project to a major carrier. Licensed networks are largely free of interference – the carriers own the exclusive rights to the RF spectrum being used in a designated area, so no one else is allowed to use it without risking the wrath of the FCC. In contrast, a company using unlicensed technologies like Wi-Fi might be competing for the same spectrum area with half a dozen other organizations.

It’s also better-secured than most unlicensed technologies or at least easier to secure, according to former chair of the IEEE’s IoT smart cities working group Shawn Chandler. Buying connectivity services that will have to be managed and secured in-house can be a lot more work than letting one of the carriers take care of it.

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