The press release is headed “Nokia Networks kick-starts industry collaboration to enable the programmable world.” In reality, when you drill down, there’s not a lot of kicking happening, but it’s very goal-directed.
The release says: “Nokia Networks calls for operators, research organisations, communications vendors and other key industry players to explore business models, identify technology requirements and recommend a framework for standards for the end-to-end deployment of IoT in areas like connected mobility, smart city or public safety.
While Nokia might want standards for end-to-end deployment of IoT, it doesn’t want any debate on end-to-end standards for IoT, which is not the same thing at all. Nokia wants standardisation activity to focus only on certain parts of the IoT ecosystem. It sees the needs for wide area communications being adequately catered for by cellular technology.
“While the 3GPP is standardising cellular-based wide area IoT connectivity and several technologies exist for standardised short-range communications, standards for the raft of other technologies needed for IoT are missing. Areas such as applications enablement, analytics, security, location mapping, indoor positioning and smart sensors are all highly proprietary, which does not support interoperability.”
All that of course is true, but there are several wide area radio communications technologies — LoRaWAN and Sigfox to name but two — vying for that wide area role. Regardless of the technical merits of LTE (and later 5G) there are many other reasons to standardise alternative technologies, not the least of which being that they enable new competitors to enter the IoT market who do not have direct access to cellular networks or the spectrum in which they operate.
The release quotes Nokia Networks’ vice president, strategy, Kathrin Buvac, saying: “We are keen to see the IoT being developed for everyone, because of all the possibilities it offers to simplify people’s lives and make industries more efficient.” That will likely be better achieved by having a variety of – standardised – technologies, and letting the market choose.
While the put-down of low-powered wide area network technologies in the press release is fairly subtle, the message in a linked Nokia blot is anything but: Is Sigfox/LoRa the new WiMAX? Time will tell. The battle has only just begun.