|source: ABI Research|
Perhaps predictably, the GSA has authored a white paper on the central role of communications in smart city efforts.
Also predictably, the GSA, representing the interests of platform suppliers of many types, supporting rival IoT platforms, argues that an “all of the above” approach will be needed.
“Multiple networks are required to underpin the smart city,” GSA argues. “A cellular network is highly unlikely to be able to deliver appropriate connectivity for every smart city application, even if it is able to satisfy many requirements.”
“Even with the emerging narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) networks and partnerships with competing IoT LP-WAN providers, for the foreseeable future, a smart city will use multiple network technologies,” GSA argues.
An appealing a political statement for an organization that has to support all its members, the position also is unlikely to happen, on a wide scale, when IoT services and networks actually are commercially deployed on a mass scale.
By definition, and excluding the potential role for mobile networks, most of the proposed IoT networks are rivals and substitutes, featuring low data rates and low power consumption.
The GSA’s argument is not without a rationale. Underpinning every IoT service, application and network is a physical transmission layer of some sort.
What is less clear are the business models and “killer apps” that will dictate what services make sense and are sustainable, and what mix of public and private investment will be possible.
But at least some forecasters believe “smart cities” apps will be a leading segment of the market, driven at least in part by traffic management and other infrastructure concerns. Almost certainly, those hopes will fail to match the optimism.
The reason is simply that the “smart cities” category is an amalgam of many different potential markets, across many industries, some amenable to public investment, while others are contingent on investment by many private entities.