Before we move on to the next prediction in our IIoT Predictions series, let’s take a quick look back at the first three:
- A major security breach of an industrial SCADA system will bring new focus to IoT security.
- The government will become heavily involved in the regulation of IoT and IIoT devices.
- Predictive analytics will alter fundamental IT/OT practices.
Part of the difficulty in procuring “predictions” for something like the Internet of Things is that the possibilities are truly endless. We know that “IoT” as a concept will increasingly touch on almost every single facet of our daily lives with each passing month, so part of the excitement is being attuned to the new concepts, technologies and thought leaders that seem to pop up near daily. It is an interesting time to be both a creator and user of technology!
Today’s prediction, courtesy of Brad Gilbert, director of product management at FreeWave, continues our path toward the more technical side of the Industrial Internet of Things. We know that the technology will continue to progress, but what about the “internet” side of IoT – the enabler of the comprehensive connectivity we’ve come to expect?
Prediction #4: Wireless Networking Protocol will Change the Way We Think about IoT Connectivity
802.11ah is a new wireless networking protocol that has the potential to enable a range of connectivity that was previously deemed improbable to obtain – greater sensor connectivity and the potential for even faster data transmission. It is scheduled to be released in mid-2016, and Brad predicts it will garner quick adoption. Here’s the why behind it:
- 802.11ah Unifies GHz and sub-GHz bands with a Wi-Fi protocol
- Reduces the need for protocol conversions and gateways
- Highly congested 2.4GHz band can now be offloaded to either 5GHz or now 900MHz
The essence of these features is that they provide a greater diversity for device enablement by offering more networking and frequency band options. The unification of bands reduces the potential for interference and offloads traffic from the 2.4GHz band that is used for wide-range networking needs.
- 802.11ah Addresses long range communication and battery operation not met with existing 802.11 standards
- Much needed for IIoT applications, especially those in remote and hazardous locations
- Better RF propagation than 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands
In conjunction with band unification, the new protocol will enable the extension of high-speed connectivity to rural areas without overloading cell tower traffic. It will allow devices to use less battery power by predetermining wake and doze times, and by incorporating relay access points, it will allow networking stations to transmit data more quickly, reducing the overall wake time.
- Chipset availability
The availability of chipsets (specifically SoC technology) will enhance data transmission even further by better managing integrated components and data flow to and from different networks and IoT enabled devices.
So far, most IIoT devices have been built with traditional band usage in mind. Introducing a new and efficient networking protocol will allow for a greater diversification of device capabilities, as well as a proliferation of sensor networks at a scale that would be unachievable with current standards.