How Fast will IoT, M2M Commercial Use Cases Develop?

Timing of investment always is tricky when a brand-new industry segment or product is being introduced. But the pace at which demand develops also is an issue.

One might point to the mismatch between investment in low earth orbit satellite constellations and market demand; the investment in application service provider businesses that faltered when demand proved insufficient to support most of the new entities.

In the mobile business, early investments in third generation mobile spectrum came at too high a price to allow immediate recovery of the capital investment.

Those dangers will exist for firms such as Bouygues Telecom, which is building a dedicated LoRa (long range) network to support Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M network offerings. Bouygues expects to operate in 500 towns and cities by the end of 2015.

Bouygues Telecom, working with Semtech, Sagemcom, Eolane, Adeunis and Kerlink, has been testing LoRa with “several major industrial customers.”

Bouygues is not the only European mobile operator investing in LoRa capabilities. Fastnet and KPN already have done so, while Belgacom and Swisscom also are preparing to introduce LoRa infrastructure.

All of that activity aims to create the network access capabilities to support M2M and IoT applications requiring long battery life and low bandwidth, bursty communications. The low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology is designed to support devices operating 10 years, using standard batteries, before requiring a battery swap.

How fast such markets will develop is the unknown. LoRa supporters argue the platform can support smart parking, building surveillance, sound monitoring, people detection, traffic management, street lighting management, domestic waste management or billboard displays.

Fire detection, air pollution, snowfall measurement, avalanche prevention, flood and drought monitoring or earthquake detection systems might also benefit.

Monitoring of water supplies, chemical contamination detection, swimming pool monitoring, seawater pollution measurement, leak detection and tide monitoring also are other applications.

Up to this point, smart electricity/water/gas meters have provided much of the early commercial deployment.

Tracking of vehicles, bicycles, objects of value, animals or people also are feasible apps, as are safety and rescue services.

But many commercial applications are expected in the industrial areas of the econmy, such as for supply chain control, mobile payments, smart shopping or shelf stock rotation.

Logistics and industrial or agricultural monitoring provide many potential examples.

Many see eHealth apps as well.

The trick will be matching investment to expected development of commercial apps requiring use of the network in volume. It always is tricky.
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