Internet of Things (IoT) may further take up years to proliferate in India and globally, however there are cases where it is being currently used by consumers and industries extensively. While IoT will touch all industries including energy, telecom, healthcare, retail, transportation, manufacturing among others, in India it will have several other use cases based on the country’s geography, demographics and cultural set-up. According to Vodafone’s annual IoT barometer report 2017-18, the percentage of companies with more than 50000 connected devices active has doubled in the last 12 months, with over 84% of IoT adopters saying that their use of IoT has grown in the last year. From the Indian organizations that were part of the study, 81% felt that IoT is key to digital transformation.
According to a study by Deloitte, the current number of IoT devices in India is around 60 million and the number is going to increase to 1.9 billion units by 2020. The IoT market in India is poised to reach $15 billion by 2020, accounting for 5% of the global market, as per a NASSCOM report.
IoT adoption in India
“Like in the rest of the world, the initial deployments are going to be in the urban or the metropolitan parts of the country. However, Smart Cities initiative by the Government means that tier 2 and tier 3 cities are also going to witness deployments of some IoT projects. Consumer IoT is emerging with a specific focus on connected homes and smart lifestyle,” said Rajesh Mishra, Founder, President and CTO, Parallel Wireless. Mishra further told that the service providers have started working to maximize the gains from this emerging market. The telcos are coming up with new products and services to address this market. However, as of now the stress is on the industrial IoT.
Also, telcos can use IoT solutions to enhance their operational efficiency. For instance, telcos can use IoT to monitor cell towers remotely. Efficient analysis of data can also help them to predict failures and thus to better maintain the network. “With IoT around, India can look forward to overcoming age old challenges encountered on aspects such as extreme climate calamities, civic issues, efficient farming value chain, healthcare, education to name a few. Moreover, India and its technology competency is driving global innovations and helping realise possibilities that otherwise appear only virtual,” said Keshab Panda, CEO & MD, L&T Technology Services.
IoT use cases in India
“In India, tracking is an essential usage scenario for IoT. Also, industry-agnostic can be deployed by small, medium and large organizations in the manufacturing, logistics, food & beverage, automobile, banking & insurance, educational, healthcare sectors, etc,” said Nick Gliddon, Director – Vodafone Business Services. “Other sectors include India’s agriculture sector, where a smart tractor can help improve the farmer’s productivity. Or the energy and utilities sector, where millions of meters could be connected to become smart meters which could later extend to utilities like water and gas, thereby reducing transmission and distribution losses. Another energy use case is monitoring of diesel generators for fuel usage, power output and other parameters,” he added. Gliddon further said that a use case that’s unique to India is growth of Mobile POS – card on demand, which has now has been used in multiple cases like Aadhaar linked payments or fair price shop payments.
According to Mishra, IoT technology has the potential to transform India in many ways. For instance, Safe Water Networks, which works to provide safe drinking water, uses real-time data to anticipate water shortage in rural areas. IoT solutions can also be used to track cash levels in rural ATMs or even to track agents in the rural segment, thus improving the banking infrastructure.
Tata Communications is setting up an IoT-dedicated network using Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) technology in India. “We are building the world’s largest dedicated IoT LoRaWAN network spanning nearly 2,000 communities and touching over 400 million people. We have already rolled out LoRa network in 38 cities with many more cities planned for implementation over the next two years,” said VS Shridhar, Senior Vice President and Head Internet of Things at Tata Communications.” We are looking to create an ecosystem of connected devices, applications and several IoT solutions to create an India-wide mesh of smart buildings, campuses, utility sites, fleet management systems, security and healthcare services. Overall our projections seem to scale the 50 million devices mark by 2022,” he added.
“The demand for IoT in India is emerging across industries such as utilities, manufacturing, automotive, transportation and logistics. Everyday customers are already using IoT enabled smart devices for health and wellness, tracking devices for personal safety, and also the emerging smart home systems category. And the government, whose flagship initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Smart Cities feature IoT as a key enabler of public utilities and services,” said Vodafone’s Gliddon. According to Panda, sectors which largely work in isolation, can be integrated and a consolidated value chain system can be framed over the IoT platform. IoT and especially digital engineering can act as the backbone which can integrate the various industries through common new age solutions and technologies.
He explained that agricultural land holding patterns are very different in India and global solutions do not typically work. Hence, automation systems (which are invariably IoT enabled) for all aspects of agriculture (from soil testing, tilling, seeding to post processing) needs diverse set of equipment and technologies where IoT can play a crucial role. “For many of our civic amenities, we need measurement systems to measure wear and tear. Once measurements systems are in place and we start quantification of data, corrective actions get taken,” added Panda.
Telcos’ role in IoT adoption
According Mishra, India is a very unique market and the service providers will need to explore innovative ways to tackle the IoT requirements of different segments. An agile and flexible network is going to be a key in empowering the telcos in offering scalable and cost-effective IoT solutions. A software-defined radio, which can be easily upgraded to 3G or 4G will allow the service providers to reduce the deployment time and to rollout services faster in keeping with the market demand.
“IoT will further trigger the ever evolving need for higher data speeds. I believe, the advent of IoT will again bring about a positive push for the demand for telecom services and this certainly augers well for the stakeholders,” said L&T Tech’s Panda.
5G will power the Internet of Things
When 5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications technology, arrives in 2020, engineers expect that it will be able to handle about 1000 times more mobile data than today’s cellular systems. It will also become the backbone of the Internet of Things (IoT), linking up fixed and mobile devices—vending machines and cars alike—becoming part of a new industrial and economic revolution, some say. A new architecture, new communication technologies, and new hardware will make this transformation possible.
It’s by no means complete yet, but the transition to a mobile IT environment in government is well established. Parallel with that, however, is the expectation that mobile communications will be able to deliver all that society expects in the way of seamless audio, video streaming and fast transfer of multi-megabyte data files. Third-generation (3G) wireless technology, which many people are still using on their cell phones, is clearly not up to the task. 4G service is the current version, and it offers much broader capability. However, with the inevitable increase in bandwidth demand, eventually even that won’t be enough. Enter 5G, still some ways over the horizon, but something government will have to grapple with – and incorporate into its networks—sooner than later.
For most agencies, however, 5G probably isn’t on the horizon because 4G seems like it will deliver what they need to cover their current concerns. Today, 4G is certainly becoming a necessity for agencies, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting. “But with so many near-term issues, I don’t think many of them have put a lot of thought yet into 5G. Most of their focus right now is on things like the cloud, and how to provide access for their users to the data that’s contained in the cloud,” he said.
Starting in the early 2000s, 3G mobile delivered a minimum of 200 kilobit/sec, bumping that up over the years to several megabit/sec. That was a decent speed for mid-decade services – which comprised mainly voice, email and web browsing – but pokey even by the time the early 4G networks started to appear in 2008.
4G mobile service has now been adopted widely throughout North America and Europe, and by much of South America. Based mainly on the LTE specifications first proposed in 2006, it offers current smartphone users average download speeds of between 15 and 30 megabit/sec, with peak speeds up to 300 megabit/sec. So-called Advanced LTE could provide speeds of up to 1gigabit/sec. Newer mobile devices support 4G by default, though so far it’s not just a matter of agencies ordering the service from carriers. Government requirements such as strong security and mobile device management aren’t usually included with 4G service, so agencies still have to buy those tools separately and manage them internally.
However, the eventual limitations of 4G are becoming evident. Because of the heavy demands by some users, carriers are already “throttling” bandwidth use at times. As the kinds of content that government and others users seek to provide through mobile services increases, that problem will only become more acute. 5G technology is still at a nascent stage of development. Specifications and standards haven’t been agreed upon, but there’s a broad understanding that it could offer speeds up to at least 100 times that of current 4G LTE. In October, Samsung said it had recorded a speed of 7.5 gigabit/sec over its 25 GHz test network. Earlier, Swedish vendor Ericsson said it had posted 5 gigabit/sec on its network. 5G will also have the capacity to simultaneously connect the billions of sensors and other devices that will be linked in the emerging Internet of Things.
LTE drives the “internet of things”
The explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rapid spread of LTE networks around the world have given rise to a tidal wave of new business opportunities all based on connecting devices to the internet via LTE. LTE, with its superior efficiency and its flat, all-inclusive all-IP architecture, is proving to be the best technology for IoT connectivity and it is causing a disruption in the M2M market, according to several leading industry researchers. The IoT will soon be multiple billions of devices with a growing proportion powered by LTE. A worldwide trend has begun.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) and the media have tended to focus on LTE’s cellular data rates, which started out with downlink peak rates of 300 Mbps but will reach 1 Gbps in the not-too-distant future. That’s impressive, but right now these rates are overkill and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. What’s really impressive about this networking technology is its efficiency and flexibility, and that is why LTE is set to become the global standard. However, MNOs have also, through their use of terminology, confused the market. LTE (Long Term Evolution) was marketed as 4G, but technically it was 3.9G. LTE-Advanced, which is making its way to the market, delivers real 4G performance, as defined by the ITU.
Industrial IoT to surpass consumer space
As the Internet of Things (IoT) adoption picks up in India, sectors like energy and utilities, industrial manufacturing, transport and logistics and agriculture will lead the market and industrial IoT will surpass the consumer IoT space in the country by 2020, a new report said. IoT can present an opportunity of up to $12 billion and industrial IoT is expected to consume the higher majority of share when compared to the consumer IoT, said the joint report by The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Deloitte, released on the sidelines of the “IoT for Smart India” summit here. According to the report, the energy and utilities sector is expected to contribute as much as 25 per cent of the IoT market share, followed by industrial manufacturing sector at 18 per cent by 2020. India is well positioned to leverage the power of IoT to create massive growth opportunities in the country.
“We are working closely with the stakeholders to build a vibrant ecosystem that demystifies IoT and works towards developing policy, standards and best practices for IoT connectivity, device protocols, security, mass scale production and cost effectiveness,” said Harmeen Mehta, Co-Chairman, IoT Committee, IAMAI and Global CIO, Bharti Airtel. One of the key objectives of the draft IoT policy document, released by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeiTY) at the summit, is to propel the IoT industry in India to $15 billion by 2020.
The document assumes that India will have a share of 5-6 per cent of the global IoT industry.”Given the transformative potential and the significant economic impact IoT can drive for a country like India, IAMAI, together with the industry, has launched a concerted effort towards catalysing the IoT ecosystem in the country,” noted Bikram Bedi, Head (India Region) at Amazon Internet Services Pvt Ltd (AISPL). Despite the rapid pace of IoT growth, there are roadblocks like lack of interoperability among devices, consumer perception and security, and a lack of compelling business cases. “However, with the fast pace of development, these challenges are quickly becoming less relevant and IoT is here to stay,” said the report.
Vodafone’s IoT report has revealed that more than three-quarters of 1278 enterprise and public-sector executives surveyed across 17 countries said that taking advantage of IoT technologies will be critical for future success, while more than half of consumer technology companies said they intended to bring new IoT products and services to market within the next two years. The percentage of companies with more than 50000 connected devices active has doubled in the last 12 months; and for those companies as the IoT project becomes core the RoI is around 67%.
“While the progress on adoption in India is in the nascent stages, IoT holds a promise of significantly impacting India’s economic and social growth. Indian government’s Make in India initiative is expected to boost GDP contribution from 16 percent in 2017 to 25 percent by 2022. Investments and Innovation in Product development are central to achieve this goal and IoT can play a key role for same,” said Raghu Gullapalli, Managing Director, Products, Accenture in India. It can be said that the scope of IoT is immense in India, however, as explained by Panda, maintenance of well-built civic amenities is a major problem in India.
“While we pride ourselves in building world-class facilities, maintaining over a long period of time does not seem to happen across the country. While some of it is cultural, it could be potentially helped using sensor based technologies. Building capability of remote monitoring of all civic assets for health monitoring is one such aspect. Both retrofit solutions and new design solutions could be thought of,” he said. “IoT will further trigger the ever evolving need for higher data speeds. I believe, the advent of IoT will again bring about a positive push for the demand for telecom services and this certainly augers well for the stakeholders,” said L&T Tech’s Panda.
IOT and more
The internet of today evolved from the telephone network and still relies on making a ‘connection’ from a host to an end device, which have addresses assigned to them. Because of the source-destination connection, handling of mobile devices that often change their connection point to the internet has been force-fitted. A fundamentally new approach being explored — content-centric networking — is based on naming chunks of content and not end points. These are stored in various locations in the internet, and an end device requests specific content by asking for it by its name explicitly and not by making a connection to a specific host.
India has seen phenomenal growth in mobile connectivity in the last decade with a billion subscribers today. From simple voice and SMS connectivity to applications like mobile banking, it has had a transformational impact, enabling people from the bottom of the pyramid to participate actively in the economy. As a result, consumer behaviour and market dynamics from this part of the world have started influencing ideas globally. For example, in India, tiered service models have always been essential for operators to monetise their networks effectively across a widely variant subscriber base. It is only recently that US operators followed and started deploying tiered charging based on data usage.