Patrick Burns

@patburns

Looks Like More Forking Going On In The IoT

If you follow the hype on NB-IoT, you may have heard of the dispute between Ericsson and Huawei, which is throwing wrenches in lots of frothy cellular IoT forecasts.

This kind of dispute is not uncommon in standards bodies, and it’s not uncommon for vendors to start selling equipment using non-final draft specifications of a standard with the intention of making the equipment standards compliant — maybe via a firmware upgarde — once the standard is baked, ratified, and adopted.

It’s different, though, when two vendors don’t see eye-to-eye and just start selling incompatible hardware that no firmware upgrade will resolve down the road. Which is what appears to be happening here. So in addition to high silicon costs and questions about battery life, plus TBD competitiveness around monthly subscription costs, there is the basic question of “How would you like to be locked into Huawei/Ericsson’s proprietary flavor of NB-IoT?”

If you are a carrier that has participated in the NB-IoT hype-a-pallooza, this might make for a fun topic at a board of directors meeting. Or some really interesting sales calls with customers.

I would never recommend counting the carriers out of the IoT — many are too big and too threatened by the IoT to stand idle. But the challenges of a) a CAT M1 standard that is. not. low. power, and b) technical and standardization questions about NB-IoT, puts carriers in a quandary. Stick to your LTE guns or diversify and embrace another LPWAN technology?

Oh and for direct competitors to cellular carriers who like to charge monthly subscriptions, your competitors’ unbending loyalty to LTE looks like an opportunity to be exploited.

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