In their excellent report “Beware the Five Myths of the Internet of Things”, Rethink Research makes it clear that it’s very unlikely that IoT will ever be one unified network. After all, the Internet itself isn’t, even after all this time.

IoT covers a diverse range of use cases, most of which have very different requirements from a traditional wireless network. For example:

  • Huge numbers of mobile sensor devices
  • Not a huge amount of data – status and instructions rather than video
  • Long periods of unattended battery-powered operation

This is a problem for most mobile networks, because they typically either provide long range with short battery life (like LTE), short range with longer battery life (like Bluetooth), or short range with short battery life (like Wi-Fi). And that’s because they were all designed for high bandwidth - to move large amounts of data.

Ultra narrow band (UNB) networks, invented by Telensa, are very different, because they meet a key IoT need of long range combined with a battery life measured in years. They are low bandwidth networks, ideally suited to many sensor applications.

This diagram, taken from a recent article by M2M Now, below illustrates the difference very clearly:

Today Telensa already has more than 9 million devices running on its long-range low-power UNB networks in cities around the world.

One of the other challenges of IoT is commercial. Without the smartphone-like consumption of huge amounts of mobile data per device, IoT services need to provide tangible business benefits on tight margins. There is no room for the multi-layered ecosystems so common in traditional mobile, and in many of today’s IoT pilots.

The real Internet of Things is growing fast, one compelling business case at a time. Smart street lighting, smart parking and smart citizen applications are just the start. And behind the scenes, UNB is quietly changing the economics of IoT.