LTE+, LTE Advanced, and 5G for IoT

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Whoa! Awesome phone.

Five years ago, at National Instruments Week in Austin, there was an interesting demo during a keynote. The demonstrator was showing an eight antenna array communicating at 1 Gbps with standard LTE equipment. It was called LTE Advanced (and some would call 5G).

Today, we’re starting to see this technology being deployed. In Canada, Bell already started rolling out LTE Advanced some time ago and new phones are starting to support this. Other MSOs are following suit.

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Deployment of LTE Advance and connectivity speeds. Source: Mobile Syrup

But what will it mean for IoT devices? We’re likely going to see a big shift in home Internet boxes or even how individual devices connect.

Several years ago, CDMA modems became popular for IoT devices like home alarms andremote sensors. It’s an amazing concept: just plug in the device and voila, you’re connected.

An example of a 2G IoT board from Particle.

However, those devices were great for sensor data collection or device actuation, applications that don’t require high speed or low latency connections, and they weren’t really good for interactive applications, such as voice interaction or video streaming.

That’s changing.

It’s not so much that 5G chips are now going to be put into IoT devices anytime soon for extremely fast connectivity (although that probably will be the case in some instances), it’s that this new technology becoming mainstream is going to drive down the cost of 4G/LTE technologies that will then be implantable in IoT devices. This is where the revolution is going to happen.

Soon enough, WiFi setup of IoT devices will be old news because devices will ship with their own Internet connectivity.

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