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Spotlight on the IoT at the Mobile World Congress 2016
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Spotlight on the IoT at the Mobile World Congress 2016

The 2016 Mobile World Congress (MWC) was held from 22 to 25 February 2016 in Barcelona. This annual trade show hosted by the  GSMA is the largest of its kind for the mobile industry, attracting 101,000 visitors and 2,200 exhibitors.

Two main areas of focus were on display at this year’s edition: 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Arcep Chair, Sébastien Soriano, was on hand to deliver a keynote in which he emphasised that the IoT was among the top priorities to emerge from the Authority’s strategic review, and that Arcep is committed to helping unleash the potential of IoT networks and to supporting innovation.

• “Building Pro-Innovation Regulation”: Arcep public policy issues related to the IoT

• ‘We need to work in concert with the new “barbarians”. The IoT will not be only mobile.’
Interview with Sébastien Soriano, ARCEP Chairman, in L’Informaticien

The Internet of Things on Display

Industry players at the event revealed the full potential of the Internet of Things today, displaying concrete applications using technologies that are already available in the marketplace, such as:

connected cars that monitor the driver’s behaviour, or send an automatic alert when there is an accident, by way of paying for parking or petrol using the vehicle’s on-board identification system,

wearables: clothes and accessories with built-in advanced computing and electronic components, which serve to quantify the wearer’s health and fitness levels, or refrigerators that will compile a grocery list in real time;

telemetry systems for smart meters used for managing electricity, gas or water distribution networks, but also applications in the farming sector enabling detailed monitoring of crop yields and livestock activity;

and an array of other applications.

In the coming months, millions of new objects and devices will be connected and begin to interact with one another, which will usher in new business models and changes in users’ daily lives.

The race between manufacturers and operators to quickly develop innovative technologies has already begun

At the MWC 2016, a range of technical solutions for IoT connectivity were on display at several stands:

• solutions that employ unlicensed bands developed by certain operators, such as Sigfox, or by standardisation bodies such as the LoRa Alliance whose members include both telcos and equipment suppliers (Orange, Bouygues Telecom, KPN, IBM, Cisco, Sagemcom, etc.);

• mobile operators and telecom equipment suppliers were also demonstrating connectivity solutions based on the use of dedicated mobile frequency bands, using technologies developed by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project, a standardisation body that produces and publishes technical specifications for 3G and 4G mobile networks). The 3GPP’s determination to establish its position on radio technologies dedicated to the Internet of Things was apparent, and the body is gearing up for the release in 2016 of 2G (Extended Coverage GSM) and 4G (Narrowband IoT or Enhanced Machine Type Communication) variants that are low-power and adapted to the transmission of very small quantities of data.

These technologies will help satisfy some of the needs of the Internet of Things: 10-year autonomy using a standard battery, modems that cost only a few euros and throughput that can be adapted to the object’s purpose.

5G, the next generation of mobile technology, will factor in IoT requirements

The future stages of 5G mobile technology deployments should make it possible to create a new kind of connectivity between people and things, in an environment of network connections that includes big data (or megadata), applications and transportation systems.

In an era marked by the proliferation of services and the convergence of platforms, and as network operators are preparing for the advent of data-hungry technologies, these new systems will pave the way for new connectivity models for wideband mobile systems. They could, for instance, ensure the delivery of ultra high-definition video services, real-time applications with low latency and the IoT’s development.

The new 5G standards will need to provide users with an identical experience regardless of whether they are sedentary or on the move, while providing the same high quality of service. This will mean that applications can be used in any situation: in a car or on a high-speed train, for instance. Plus, ultra-fast and ultra-reliable communications that can deliver an instant response in a single click are viewed as the springboard for the development of future innovative applications, in a vast range of fields: healthcare, security, manufacturing, entertainment, etc.