Zach Supalla on IoT & Cellular

cell-tower-main Photo credit: TheBusyBrain via Visual hunt / CC BY

The more I read about potential IoT markets and applications, the clearer it becomes that ubiquitous connections for IoT devices will increasingly become an imperative, not just a “nice to have.” The longer you analyze IoT market spaces, the more obvious connected-anywhere IoT devices become.

Today, most IoT connections are short-range ones such as Zigbee, Bluetooth (and Bluetooth Low Energy), Z-Wave and Wifi. There are also emerging standards like LTE-M (PDF) and wide area networks specifically for IoT like LoRa, so the connectivity space is definitely in flux. Still, according to the ITU over 95% of the world’s population is covered by 2G cellular and 3G is growing, covering 89% of the world’s urban dwellers (but only 29% of rural inhabitants) so a good communications technology bet today would be one that would focus on what’s here, what works, and what covers the globe.


Zach Supalla

In an article in Fast Company Why The Internet Of Things Hasn’t Gone Cellular Yet, Minnesota transplant to Silicon Valley, Particle CEO Zach Supalla, talks about their creation of Electron, a 2G/3G platform with cellular connectivity for IoT at its core so that all devices can be connected, not just those in range of Wifi, part of mesh networks, or with wired connections.

One of the challenges Supalla and team faced was Particle becoming an MVNO in order to ship the Electron and include their Particle Global IoT SIM with low-cost data service in more than 100 countries.

The article points out that, besides committing to global wireless service as an MVNO, there were many other challenges faced by the Particle team surrounding Electron as a platform and going to market:

For Supalla, the creation of Electron has been a lesson in how wireless carriers work, including both their networks and their internal politics. With the first Electron units shipping this week, I talked to Supalla about what he learned, and what still needs to change before cellular IoT takes off.

Read more here at Fast Company…

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