Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said its experience in networks, devices, platforms and applications makes it a good candidate for fixing all that is broken in the Internet of Things (IoT). The company today announced ThingSpace and detailed how it wants to make it easier for developers and others to build for and use the IoT.
While there are a lot of options for making IoT connections -- everything from ZigBee and Z-Wave to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth -- Verizon wants to offer up its wide area network as the connectivity solution, whether it be for connecting a dog collar or water meter. "We're spearheading that because we have the scale to do that," said Mike Lanman, SVP of enterprise and IoT products at Verizon, at a webcast launch event at Verizon's San Francisco Innovation Center.
"We really believe the market is underserved today," he said. "When you look at corporations, those that have deployed IoT solutions, they're getting double digit improvement in their profitability because they're cutting costs out and they're managing their environments at a much faster pace, but they are still underserved by the solutions that are in market."
Lanman and his team recognized the impediments for developing and launching IoT devices -- including complexity, fragmentation and costs -- and set out two years ago to take the complexity out of it. What they came up with are lower-priced modules for embedding in devices, including a chipset from Sequans that Lanman mentioned during the event, as well as lowering the network access charges, which he said was a tougher one to solve.
The wide area LTE network was built to support things like smartphones and other data-rich devices, but the "things" in IoT don't require that extent of network support, so instead, Verizon will be launching a new IoT core in early 2016 that meets new IoT profiles at a much lower cost. The new IoT core will be "super-efficient," allowing for new use cases.
The new IoT core also will scale to meet the demands of billions of connections, and Verizon has globally enabled its ThingSpace platform so that people will be able to connect in 92 countries, a number he expects will "skyrocket" in early 2016.
He also noted that competing connectivity technologies like Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth typically require some level of customer involvement. That's where some of the utility is lost in deploying in those technologies, he said, adding that with a WAN network, "we take that stuff off the table, and we deliver you a network that is easy." The core IoT network is optimized for Cat 1 devices.
Lanman said ThingSpace, which has been under development at Verizon for more than two years, is a web-based platform designed for developers to have an easy on-ramp on to the IoT. Developers already are using it, and Verizon is offering its most-demanded APIs. To help customers make sense of all the data they collect via IoT, Verizon also is making its analytics expertise commercially available as part of the ThingSpace program.
The company highlighted work that it's doing in areas like agriculture and healthcare, and as for smarter cities, Verizon says over the past year it has addressed the smart city market with IoT solutions for the connected car and smart grid, including hum, GridWide and Verizon Share. It's also now leveraging its network, cloud and security capabilities to launch intelligent video, lighting and traffic management solutions.
Lanman also punctuated one more thing that Verizon brings to the table: security. "We're a world leader in IT security products," and "we're bringing those to the IoT," he said, adding that those who value security will value the offer that Verizon is bringing to the marketplace.
While Verizon is making a big push into IoT now, rival AT&T (NYSE: T) has been more vocal about what it's been doing in IoT, recognizing that smartphone penetration will only take them so far when it comes to future growth. AT&T reported a record 1.6 million connected device subscriber additions, including 1 million connected cars, in its most recently ended third quarter.
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