Manufacturers don't need to wait for 5G to get IoT. Source: Shutterstock

Manufacturers don’t need to wait for 5G to get IoT. Source: Shutterstock

Maxis says businesses need not wait for 5G for IoT applications

MANY business leaders believe that they need to wait for 5G in order to really start thinking about how the internet of things (IoT) can help them in their manufacturing or supply chain divisions. That’s not entirely true.

According to network communications specialists and IoT professionals, 5G isn’t mission critical to IoT deployments in countries where telecom companies support narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).

In the Asia Pacific, for example, many companies could get on with IoT right away.

Tech Wire Asia caught up with telecom giant Maxis at the Malaysia Tech Week summit recently where CEO Gokhan Ogut explained what NB-IoT is and how it can help businesses.

“NB-IoT, a dedicated network for IoT technology, brings 5G-like capabilities albeit for lower bandwidth applications, today, and has the ability to support millions of connected things which consumes very low power and therefore lends itself to delivering a long battery life.

“The technology will power up big data and enable advanced data analytics to help make decisions in areas such as potential cost savings, improved efficiency, and new business opportunities.”

Based on recent industry commentary, the technology seems to be gaining popularity as widespread 5G rollouts seems farther and farther away.

“NB- IoT will leverage LTE network coverage and can be deployed on the back of the current network infrastructure. You need not wait for 5G to move forward with an IoT solution as NB-IoT is designed to support most common IoT applications.”

Don’t give up on IoT, move to NB-IoT

For IoT to grow in adoption, keeping operating expenses for large IoT deployments is critical.

“NB-IoT offers lower module costs due to its low power consumption which leads to longer battery life, i.e available for over 10 years without requiring a battery replacement.”

This makes NB-IoT the most cost-effective way to mass deploy IoT in terms of minimizing hardware costs and the low-power network design, which facilitates power efficiency and the longevity of IoT device deployments, especially in remote locations where devices are dependent on battery power.

“Beyond cost-effectiveness, NB-IoT also improves coverage across large areas and deep indoors, opening up a new range of use cases for wireless IoT.”

Truth be told, NB-IoT deployments can be difficult to understand at first, which is why think tanks such as McKinsey and BCG believe telcos need to work with businesses to guide them about the potential of the technology and open their eyes to possible use cases in their industry segments.

In Malaysia, Maxis is collaborating with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to promote this ecosystem development of IoT solutions among companies to spur the Malaysian digital economy.

The collaboration will see Maxis addressing industry needs through engagements and solution development among companies, developer communities, and vendors in line with the Malaysian digital agenda.

“Specifically, our role is to lead NB-IoT initiatives and work closely with MDEC and ecosystem partners through quarterly engagements and joint workshops to address specific industry needs and relevant IoT programs.

“As part of this initiative, we will be providing key enablers such as testing guidelines, lab facilities, and deployment setup best practices.”

While Maxis and other telcos in Malaysia are definitely working hard to champion NB-IoT in the country, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia do have a slight lead — with most of them getting started with NB-IoT rollouts last year.

In the future, as trials lead to implementations, more exciting news about NB-IoT use cases and success stories will emerge.

With help from the Malaysian government and agencies such as MDEC, the country might be among the leaders in at least a few industries when it comes to exciting NB-IoT development and implementation.