Tuesday, December 19, 2017

IoT Networks Will Be Many-to-One

The architecture of coming internet of things networks is going to be radically different from the voice, consumer internet or business data network architectures. Those networks were built to support “point to point” communications from any node to any other node.

Irrespective of the access mechanism (mobile, Wi-Fi, other), the fundamental networking architecture of a sensor network (and therefore of  the internet of things) is “sensor to server,” not “point-to-point,” as was the architecture of the voice network or the early internet.

That is going to have consequences. The IoT networks will be the inverse of the point-to-multipoint satellite TV, cable TV, radio and TV broadcast networks.

In contrast with point-to-point, any-to-any networks, these broadcast or multicast networks are optimized for one-to-many communications in the downstream direction.

IoT networks will be optimized for many-to-one communications upstream to servers. If there are scores of billions of devices using such networks, then such many-to-one networks will be optimized for collecting data from remote locations, not distributing information to many remote locations, and not for any-to-any communications.

That is new, really new.

Much of the upstream data will be simple: where are you; what is the temperature; what is the pressure; what is your speed. Some of the data might require more bandwidth, supporting camera feeds, for example. But almost none of the requirement is for downstream communications to sensors.

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