A Slow Lane For The Internet Of Things

We humans crave speed. We love doing things fast. Especially those of us on the cutting edge of innovation and technology – heck we throw things away once they start feeling slow – we upgrade our internet speeds and smartphones as soon as they start feeling a little laggy, and go into all sorts of speed rage when our latest and greatest Windows 8 touchscreen computers with solid state drives don’t boot up in a fraction of a second. So when it comes to technology, we love speed. When it comes to food, slow is usually better. But not always!

On the other hand, computers don’t really care. Devices don’t really care. If they are designed and developed properly, they will take whatever they can get speed wise and just work with it. For example, if they can’t download something now due to spotty internet, they will try again. If they can’t connect in the moment, they’ll try later. And if they are trying to conserve power, they they will really make the most of their connection time, they will connect only when they need to, and at whatever speed is required. This is how most things connected to the internet work – from Nest thermostats (who connect directly) to FitBits (who do it via your smartphone). If you think about it – do you really need a super high speed connection updating in real time for your thermostat? (sure, we’re going through some climate change but unless you live on Venus, I think you’re OK with a slower connection which doesn’t update as often.)

This is really a good idea. Since we all know that the internet of things will end up with multiple billions of devices, most of which are pretty dumb and only send out a few bytes of data now and then, why would they need a super fast internet that we’d like? Sure, while the traffic from these devices is small, eventually over time it will add up to a ton of data. And since these devices don’t really need the latest, greatest, most super fast network, we can give them a dumbed down, slower version. 

If you think about it, the more “tiers” we have, the better. We’ve been so focused on developing a single solution, leveraging the fact that it costs so much to lay down plant (take it from me – it used to cost a lost) that we build devices expecting solid internet connectivity. If you ask me, this may be a whole new market for many new sets of services – sure you can get the AT&T or Xfinity style mass market internet like everyone else, but there are likely other markets for a faster solution as well. In fact, I can foresee the good old, ISP coming back again, (that’s Internet Service Provider for you folks born after 1990) providing more choice both in the lower bands like SigFox, and maybe in the upper bands, like WebPass.

San Francisco is set to get a new cellular network later this year, but it won’t help fix the city’s spotty mobile-phone coverage. This wireless network is exclusively for things.The French company SigFox says it picked the Bay Area to demonstrate a wireless network intended to make it cheap and practical to link anything to the Internet, from smoke detectors to dog collars, bicycle locks, and water pipes.

via SigFox Installing a Cellular Network for the Internet of Things in San Francisco and Silicon Valley | MIT Technology Review.