Pipeline Publishing, Volume 7, Issue 10
This Month's Issue:
Unlocking Next Gen Networks
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Debating Opportunities in Machine-to-Machine
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Now, envision multiple apps doing things autonomously in the background without direct user input, based purely on settings. Suddenly, what we think of as one device – a smartphone – becomes multiple devices all capable of acting on their own, thus multiplying bandwidth consumption, introducing new types of user behavior, and impacting networks in ways carriers may or may not have predicted. What happens to the network when everyone’s tablets are uploading and downloading all night on their own? It’ll consume a load of bandwidth, and provide a scenario where M2M applications aren’t just transmitting little bits of data but rather become the major drivers of bandwidth consumption across high-end, 4G (and beyond) networks.

Telcordia’s Stanley reminds us of the critical penetration ratio, where we’ve reached 1:1 in terms of people to mobile devices, and says that we are exceeding 1:1 because of the introduction of tablets, netbooks, wireless broadband cards, and the like. He says, however, that “the big explosion goes way beyond 1 to 1; when multiple devices in my house begin communicating, that’s exponential growth.” Certainly this is true; when our smart meters, refrigerators, furnaces, and hot water heaters are able to communicate their status and electrical consumption across communications networks, we will see the ratio jump and growth in bandwidth consumption along with it.

Similarly, and perhaps sooner, we’ll see the ratio jump because of autonomous apps on smartphones and tablets. An individual with a smartphone and a tablet could easily have a personal ratio of 10:1 or greater – two devices with five or more apps each capable of some kind of autonomous communication or transmission to one or more end points.

So, whether we define those autonomous apps as instances of M2M communications or not seems at best irrelevant and at worst short-sighted. The industry needs to recognize that these machines will impact customer experience and perception.
If networks slow down under the increased

“The big explosion goes way beyond 1 to 1; when multiple devices in my house begin communicating, that’s exponential growth.” Bill Stanley, Strategic Business Development, Telcordia.

load, as we’ve seen happen in the 3G world, there are business consequences. Further, if people can’t take for granted that the applications are doing their jobs, then customer experience and brand perception will suffer.

Here’s the irony – when my app stops working automatically, I’ve already got the device in my hand that lets me and 20 million of my peers rant about it on Twitter and Facebook.

As more industries adopt devices that can be monitored, managed, and operated remotely, communications services become an integrated component. “You bump into a company that has nothing to do with telecommunications, but they are vertically relevant;” says Stanley, “their way of looking at it is that ‘I don’t care what the communications are,’ but they land a deal to put 6,000 devices in your hospital, there’s a communications ingredient to that…and that it darn well better work is table stakes.”

With devices collecting and transmitting data on that scale, something needs to make sense of all the noise. “Any network is putting out many messages that aren’t that important,” says Pinnes, “and you need to correlate them and translate them into something that is important.” For other vertical industries that will need to solve this exact sort of problem, “this is where experience in OSS/BSS becomes very relevant,” says Pinnes.

Recent news reports have discussed the phenomenon of alarm fatigue in hospitals, where so many electronic machines send out audible alarms that nurses become desensitized to them, raising the risk that a critical alarm will be missed. Problems like this can be solved with analytical tools very similar to those communications providers use not only to filter alarms, but to monitor them, categorize them, and ensure that the right people are alerted directly and respond to them in a timely manner.

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