The walls surrounding large-scale Internet of Things deployments are tumbling down, according to Verizon Vice President of IoT Connected Solutions Mark Bartolomeo.
In part one of this Q&A, Bartolomeo talked about how Verizon's deployment earlier this year of its nationwide CAT-M1 network has changed the game, and how some of the previous IoT concerns, such as security, have been alleviated. In part two, he discussed standards, interoperability and the use of analytics.
Telco Transformation spoke to Bartolomeo last year right after Verizon's State of the Market: Internet of Things report was released. These Q&As followed the release of the third version of the annual IoT report by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
Telco Transformation: What are the biggest changes with IoT since we spoke about this report last year?
Mark Bartolomeo: We're seeing progress. Thinking back to our last conversation, we talked a lot about the barriers to the adoption of IoT, things like the fragmented ecosystem of service providers, the high cost and the lack of standards. One of the things that we've seen heading into 2018 and into the second half of 2017 is a much broader adoption of IoT.
TT: How do we get from proof of concepts to enterprise-grade IoT? It sounds like we are already starting that process?
MB: We are. We've seen a number of deployments going forward. I think some of those are outlined in the report. I think one of the biggest changes that we've seen is the start of the deployment of Cat M1 and the narrowband IoT chips and modules. I think this is a big boost to IoT, because as you're aware, really what the focus has been in the past has been to deploy a relatively small number of devices relative to the overall IoT market.
So the cost of the modules is really directly related to the size of the addressable market. What we see is that as the cost of connectivity is decreasing, and the addressable market is expanding. It's coming in a couple of fronts. One is the actual cost of the device itself. We're moving away from the 4G broadband devices to the Cat M1, narrowband devices. We're really seeing some of these go down from $250 to $40. Narrowband IoT devices will come down even further in 2018.
TT: So when you say the costs will go down, do you have a ballpark figure in mind?
MB: I was on a panel at Mobile World Congress (this past fall) and the CEO of Sequans [Georges Karam] said he sees these -- at some point in the future -- getting down into the single digits cost. I think at that point, the economics begin to work where you can really start to track more than the high value assets. You could track things like briefcases, suitcases and backpacks, and all the things that are important to you but are just a little bit too expensive to connect.
So I think the cost of productivity -- as it's related to the addressable market --is very important. Security is always at the top of everyone's list. We're now with the deployments of eSIMs and getting to see managed certificate services having the ability to provide dual factor authentication for the devices, which I think is significant for IoT and M2M.
TT: As far as the Cat M1, is there anything that you've learned in particular so far or anything that you didn't expect to see?
MB: So when we talk about Cat M1, I think the cost of the device is one piece, but, also when we start looking at the IoT core network, not only is the cost coming down for the device, but the overall cost is coming down for the network itself. What's allowing us to do that is the network virtualization, where we're able to actually slice off a piece of the core network and allocate that towards IoT. What that's doing is giving us the ability to segment away from the IMS core and all the cost of the third-party licensing expense associated with that very, very sophisticated IMS core, which was built to manage very complex devices versus the simple NB-IoT and Cat M devices.
If there's anything that I've learned, it's that the market will continue to push for more and more capabilities. So we're actually going to be deploying Cat M devices that are going to be able to do things like location, migration, and lighting -- all those types of capabilities as needed. I think that I was expecting not to have devices that were going to be that sophisticated with Cat M in the beginning, but you can never underestimate the people who are driving innovation. They just always want to do more and more and more. Everyone appears very committed to doing it while also managing power consumption to save time. Because one of the propositions with Cat M, and even narrowband IoT, is better power management, longer battery life.
TT: We talked a lot last year about security, which you already mentioned. Is there anything else you would want to say to enterprises or businesses that are concerned about security? Is there anything else that you need to let them know, to reassure them a bit?
MB: There are our four pieces for better security; managed certificate services, virtual private network, secure cloud Interconnect, and AI. I think previously when we were seeing M2M and IoT deployments, they were already in the field, and enterprises were going back and adding security. What we're seeing now is that security is being planned as part of the deployment. So devices are being deployed with managed certificates. The networks are being implemented with virtual mobile private networks. Compute environments are being deployed where we have implemented direct network connections to those cloud environments so that at nowhere along this continuum are we traversing the public Internet.
The fourth piece is AI, and so we have been deploying some AI capabilities to do monitoring communications to M2M devices. Specific use cases and devices have a very identifiable and repeatable communication profile. We know exactly what the communications should look like for a specific device. AI is looking for any anomalies, and if it sees anomalies in the communication patterns with a device, that information is creating an alert to the owner of those devices with the ability to shut down communications to that device, or shut down communications to groups of devices in a geographic area.
That doesn't mean that it can't have a security incident. I just want to be on record that we can never do enough, and that we have to constantly be improving security.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation