IoT global round-up: Vending machines, valuations and Wi-Fi boosts

17 Feb 2017

Image: TZIDO SUN/Shutterstock

This week saw new funding, grand predictions and further infrastructural investment into IoT – did you keep up?

The breadth of the internet of things (IoT) was perhaps best encapsulated this week when a university suffered a cyberattack caused by its lightbulbs, vending machines and lamp posts. However, there were plenty of other developments of note.

In Ireland, a new €20m venture capital fund called Suir Valley Ventures was announced. Led by TSSG chairman and FeedHenry founder Barry Downes, it will focus on IoT, fintech and augmented reality.

“This is an entrepreneur-led fund that will focus on supporting entrepreneurs [as they] grow and develop groundbreaking new technology companies,” said Downes.

Elsewhere, Ericsson revealed the successful execution of its first end-to-end 5G trial system, proving the viability of a common infrastructure for future 5G services.

The lab-based trial was through a partnership with SK Telecom Korea, with Ericsson having enjoyed previous success with Telefónica in 2016.

It was actually a big week for Ericsson, having previously partnered with Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom to demonstrate an intercontinental trial network.

But what else happened around the world?


Verizon’s Data Breach Digest 2017 revealed a pretty novel cyberattack that saw more than 5,000 connected devices hacked at an unnamed university, slowing internet service at to a crawl.

“With a massive campus to monitor and manage, everything from light bulbs to vending machines had been connected to the network for ease of management and improved efficiencies,” reads the report.

“While these IoT systems were supposed to be isolated from the rest of the network, it was clear that they were all configured to use DNS servers in a different subnet.”

Referring to it as a mess, the solution was rather straightforward, intercept the clear text passwords used for each 15-minute attack and change them.

New IoT valuation

The latest in a long list of market predictions on IoT valuations saw Technavio claim that the burgeoning industry will be worth $1.37bn by 2021.

Computing devices, smart media players and wireless printers are three segments that Technavio points out in particular, saying they will drive the majority of adoption.

Smartphones dominate this theme as the primary cog in computing devices that, as a section, represents 81pc of overall revenue generation, according to the report.

Tablets are next in line, driven by the mobility, connectivity and superior performance that they offer.

“The wireless printers segment of the IoT devices market is expected to reach 159.4m units by 2021,” said Chetan Mohan, an analyst at Technavio.

“The market segment is expected to grow because of the advances in printing technology and the increased demand for wireless laser and inkjet printers,” says Mohan.

Qualcomm goes Wi-Fi

Qualcomm has moved to bring out Wi-Fi chips, aiming to boost capacity potential across the growing number of connected devices.

The decision comes as the US company estimates that the average number of Wi-Fi connected devices per four-person household will grow from eight in 2012, to 50 by 2022.

Greater congestion requires greater planning. For this, Qualcomm offers the 802.11ax chip, with the company claiming this is merely a starting point.

The chips might crop up in certain devices this year, but a full release of a tailored chip, tapping into smartphones, laptops and other household devices, will follow in 2018.

“It is taking Wi-Fi to a new level from a user-experience point of view,” said Qualcomm’s Rahul Patel.

“What it is trying to do is prepare the Wi-Fi network, which, in many cases, is experiencing a lot of congestion, largely because the network is becoming dense and is not able to deal with the amount of traffic.”


AT&T’s plan to bulk up its 4G LTE network in the US and Mexico continued this week, after the telecommunications giant revealed an acceleration of its LTE-M project.

Already covering around 400m across the two countries, the network has reached a stage where it is ahead of previous projections.

The news follows the successful pilot of the AT&T LTE-M low-power wide-area network at the company’s lab in San Ramon, California. AT&T switched on its North American LTE-M-enabled commercial site in October to support the pilot with other ecosystem players.

“We’re seeing real momentum for LTE-M that will let us connect more endpoints than ever before,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice-president of IoT at AT&T. “And we can do it at a lower cost, with superior performance and carrier-grade security.”

The areas that have been successfully tested across the network include smart meters, pallets, beverage fountains and shipping containers.

“We fully expect to have nationwide availability of LTE-M technology in Mexico by the end of 2017. This is huge for our enterprise customers. It’s an important step to help accelerate the speed of business,” said Kelly King, CEO of AT&T Mexico.

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic