While the two major things we talk about when the topic of the Internet of Things comes up are its benefits and security issues, there is a third aspect that’s just as important: connectivity. Every information network requires connection and IoT is no different. When we talk about things like smart homes and next gen automation, we’re really talking about connectivity, which is the foundation of the M2M network and all of its promised benefits.
In the developed world, where connected tech proliferates more and more on a daily basis, with smartphones and wearables nearing ubiquity, it is near impossible to imagine a society without connectivity. That’s something rather amazing, considering that the IoT is still nascent. Outside of North America, Europe and much of Asia, however there is a serious connectivity problem. Simply put, two thirds of the world’s population don’t have access to the Internet. And that’s the basic Internet, not even this second Internet we’ve been so excited about all year long.
The underserved regions of the world are nothing new, and as such, major global companies are endeavoring to deliver on the missing goods. Google and Facebook in particular, are aiming to bring the Internet to where there has never been Internet before, and if they succeed we will be one crucial step closer to the fabled Smart Globe: a connected worldwide community that has the full benefits of automation, identity management, and information exchange.
It might sound utopian, but Google and Facebook, each through their own means, have taken major strides in attempting to expand network access across the globe. Google’s Balloon initiative strives for an environmental future, in which the Internet can be plucked right out of the air, and Facebook’s Internet.org is examining high altitude planes, new satellites and even lasers to deliver connections to the under-connected.
As you can likely extrapolate from those two descriptions, the problem standing in the way of a connected globe is one of infrastructure. At this point in time, connected devices are incredibly available thanks to aggressive cost reduction measures, but are unfortunately they are rendered useless when out of connection range. If a whimsical philanthropist were to fly over all the under served areas of the world in a private jet and drop smartphones on everyone, the problem would still persist. A smartphone without a connection is, simple put, a dumb phone. The same stands for any smart device.
Through the technology that will connect us to more people we will enable our machines to connect to each other too.
At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg voiced his excitement about a world in which everyone is connected.
“We’re really serious about this,” said Zuckerberg. “We have these services that people love, that are drivers of data usage, and that people want to use. [People] want to get on the Internet to use them and we want to work this out so that it’s a profitable model for our partners.”
Therein lies another aspect of a connected globe: the markets. If two thirds of the world are underserved by connectivity, that’s two thirds of the world that are unable to embrace connected smart technologies. The fact that Zuckerberg sees this underserved demographic as a market is encouraging in terms of the overall connectivity narrative, as a connected globe is one primed for commerce.
All month, we’ve been examining the Internet of Things from the perspective of an inevitability, but that takes for granted the idea of connectivity. While the new infrastructure being explored by Google and Facebook serves to bring about more than just an increased range for IoT technology, it is still a crucial element in the future of mobility, the internet and the automation we so dearly desire.
Stick with Mobile ID World throughout June as we continue to explore the Internet of Things with more featured articles and interviews. Join in on the discussion by following us on Twitter and tweeting with the hashtag #IoTMonth.