NB-IoT and LTE-M promise a $33bn windfall by 2022

19 Jan 2018

Agricultural sensors in remote areas will be one aspect of a wider NB-IoT network. Image: EAKNARIN JITONG/Shutterstock

This week in IoT, a report into the potential windfall from the adoption of NB-IoT technology by mobile operations shows that enormous dividends are afoot.

The consumer end of the internet of things (IoT) was in the spotlight this week when Google’s popular Chromecast device was found to be causing network issues in people’s homes.

A bug was found within its operating system and its ‘Cast’ feature, which enables a device to stream video, music and files onto a TV screen remotely.

The problem seems to be that the Google devices will broadcast a large amount of these packets at rapid speed in a short space of time.

This happens when the Google device is awoken from its ‘sleep’ state and, the longer it is in sleep mode, the larger the quantity of MDNS packets sent will be once it ‘wakes up’.

Google has since stated that it is aware of the problem and is rolling out a fix.

IoT bug finder that hunts ‘n-days’ vulnerabilities

As we saw with Mirai in 2016, powerful botnets that turn IoT devices into a DDoS superweapon threaten to derail all of the benefits of an enormous connected ecosystem.

So, to help prevent such instances again, security researchers are working overtime to find new ways to stop botnets in their tracks, and spot them before they can even begin to take effect.

One such company is Red Balloon, which, according to Wired, has debuted an automated program that determines whether software vulnerabilities already located in embedded devices also exist in other IoT devices.

Rather than hunting for zero-day vulnerabilities, this program finds ‘n-day’ vulnerabilities that have been publicly revealed, but haven’t been identified in products yet.

“The reactive ‘patch each vulnerability that comes along’ approach is not a tenable strategy moving forward, especially for sectors like industrial control,” said the company’s co-founder, Ang Cui.

NB-IoT and LTE-M promise a $33bn windfall by 2022

A new report from the Dell’Oro Group, an IT research firm, believes that the market for wide-area IoT technology – such as narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M – will provide $33bn in sales for service providers and mobile infrastructure vendors by 2022.

Of that amount, services based on cellular technologies are expected to account for more than 98pc of service provider wide-area IoT revenues.

The technology that looks particularly promising is in the fields of smart meters and video surveillance.

“Service providers have invested in cellular technologies for the past 30-plus years,” said Stefan Pongratz, senior director at the Dell’Oro Group. “And they are now in a unique position to capture new revenue from a diverse set of IoT use cases with minimal incremental mobile infrastructure investments.”

Panasonic progressing with Denver smart city plans

The city of Denver, Colorado, was selected by Japanese tech mainstay Panasonic as a 400-acre smart city site near Denver International Airport in 2016, and now things are starting to progress.

The Panasonic CityNow initiative will include the development of a microgrid energy storage solution for the airport and will be part of a larger initiative that includes a 1.3MW AC canopy solar installation to serve the grid and provide backup power.

A second initiative in development is the deployment of smart LED streetlights at the airport. These lights will be powered by solar cells, and are designed to brighten when there’s foot traffic, and dim when there’s no activity, as a means of conserving energy. They will also house HD security cameras to enhance commuter safety.

Panasonic has said that much of what it hopes to achieve as part of the project will still take a few years to complete, but these initial projects will be the testbed for future smart city development in other nations, too.

Uber to trial autonomous cars with no human backup

In what would be a major moment in Uber’s autonomous car project, the ride-hailing company confirmed that it will soon test its first car without a human backup driver on board.

According to AP (via ABC News), Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group leader Eric Meyhofer did not give a specific timeframe for when it will happen, but it would appear that the company plans to have the service available to take passengers next year.

“Once we can check that box, which we call passing the robot driver’s licence test, that’s when we can remove the vehicle operator,” Meyhofer said. “We’re going aggressively, too.”

The total number of people working on the technology at Uber now amounts to 1,600 people. When the cars hit the road without human backup for testing, their systems will be able to increase test speeds from their current limit of 64kph.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic