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There will be more than 490 million roaming connections for low-power Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2028, according to a study published by Juniper Research.

Today, there are approximately 90 million of these types of IoT devices. Juniper Research predicts that as more bilateral roaming agreements for low-power devices connected over cellular networks are struck between telecommunications carriers, the number of network connections required will increase 560 percent over the next five years.

Low-power IoT rising in popularity

Use cases for low-power networks such as Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) and Long-term Evolution for Machines (LTE-M) span everything from agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing, and healthcare. One of the challenges that many organizations encounter when deploying IoT devices, however, is the amount of power consumed. Low-power IoT devices make it feasible to remotely control when the devices are powered on to reduce the overall amount of energy that would otherwise be required.

As 5G bandwidth rates get as high as 10 gb/s, the number of devices connected to wireless networks will continue to increase. This will present a wealth of opportunities for managed service providers (MSPs) to monitor and secure them.

Build-your-own has its advantages

Of course, many of these network connections will be managed by carriers, but there will also be plenty of instances where organizations build their own private 5G networks. Reasons for deploying a private 5G network include access to dedicated bandwidth, better coverage to ensure reliability, and increased isolation to strengthen security.

Most organizations are a lot more interested in the business benefits of IoT than they are in managing networks that might have thousands of endpoints, leading to a high demand of MSPs. The key issue that these organizations are going to face is that rather than sending a constant stream of data from all those endpoints back to a cloud service, it’s going to be more efficient to process and analyze that data at the point where it is being created, and frequently used, to automate a process. Building, deploying, and maintaining those types of applications, however, may require some familiarity of how to run, update, and secure a set of containers deployed on a cluster at the network edge that has limited processor, memory, and storage resources.

An MSP value-added service

There are still several technologies that need to mature to enable organizations to achieve that goal, but the one thing that is clear is the level of expertise required will be difficult for many organizations to find and retain. As a result, MSPs can opt to manage these environments on an end-to-end basis or choose to specialize in specific functions such as providing monitoring or security services.

Regardless of the approach pursued, the number of IoT devices that will need to be managed at a level of scale will be much greater than anything most MSPs typically deal with today. The opportunity and challenge will be to marshal all the expertise required to succeed before that opportunity passes.

Photo: metamorworks / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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