How many more connected gadgets have appeared in your home this year? IoT is expanding at a phenomenal rate. Vehicles, wearable gadgets, RFID sensors and software are advancing past basic functionality and the network is growing to include even more advancements. 2019 will see such advancements becoming even more commonplace in the home, in businesses and on the road. So, what are some of the things that we can look forward to over the course of 2019? Specifically, what things will have a significant impact on IoT over the coming year?

Will 5G save the day?

There are billions of devices that are connected to the Internet that are used for daily tasks (the total number of connected devices is much bigger). When you talk about the IoT market and connectivity statistics then we are talking about numbers in the Billions range.

In 2019, there will likely be a bigger push for 5G connectivity —adding another lane to a very busy web highway to handle the increase in devices. More data and more traffic makes for a very congested connected internet. There is also edge computing to consider. Data from IoT devices will be stored closer to the source—taking business from data centres. To combat this, data centres and edge computing will need to work in harmony.

However, all this forecasted growth could slow reflecting the massive lead times in capacitors and batteries (40+ weeks in some cases). Electronics manufacturing industry players don’t expect to see much relief until mid-2019, and some think that shortages will last well into 2020. Leading passives suppliers in the industry will need to meet supply challenges and help their customers to stay up-and-running.

Will the Low-power WAN bubble burst?

LPWAN is a wireless, wide area network technology that interconnects low-bandwidth, battery-powered devices with low bit rates over long ranges. Low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) are a battleground right now, not just involving major telecoms companies and mobile operators, but a number of new players eager to bypass the traditional networks.

A report from ABI Research claims that the latter is already outstripping the established network types such as narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M. The figures showed that LPWAN providers, such as the European provider Sigfox, accounted for a whopping 93pc of connections in 2017.

But will we see the LPWAN bubble burst over the course of 2019? Is there a possibility that enterprises will begin to realize that, beyond their prototypes,  LPWAN is going to prove to be expensive and won’t actually offer the coverage required for global business requirements?

2G or not 2G?

Disappearing 2G was a trend that was first apparent in Asia, with KDDI ending its TU-KA 2G product in March 2008. All of Japan’s mobile operators abandoned 2G services by April 2012, making it the first country to fully jump to 3G and 4G-only networks. KT Corp of South Korea and Spark of New Zealand also shuttered their respective CDMA networks in 2012, while CAT Telecom of Thailand followed suit in 2013. For many operators, the switch away from 2G has come as part of a wider migration from CDMA-based networks to the W-CDMA and LTE technology path.

Refactoring a globally ubiquitous radio spectrum for carrier specific domestic NB-IoT seems like a badly thought through strategy by operators who aren’t offering an alternative to their domestic customers who operate globally.

Will MQTT be recognised by the mainstream?

Designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency or unreliable networks,

MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport) is a publish/subscribe, extremely simple and lightweight messaging protocol. It is likely that in 2019 will we see MQTT coming to the forefront of IoT and being recognized by the mainstream M2M brigade as being more useful for IoT than TCP-IP/HTTPS. If we consider Smart Cities then HTTP is not practical to manage a use case where a controller needs to turn off over 1,000 streetlights in one low-cost instruction. On the other hand, MQTT is 1-2-Many and is ideal. Will we see more of examples of this over the course of 2019?

The issue of IoT fragmentation will only continue to grow. A big part of the problem is that there are so many different devices/solutions/protocols/platforms. There are probably way more than needed because, until recently, many IoT solutions have been designed for problems/clients that don’t even exist yet.

These days it’s now easier to build solutions based on real-world problems – the industry is maturing and the wider business world is becoming more familiar with the benefits that IoT can bring. If the whole solution is designed around customer experience, the problem of fragmentation is diminished because there is a clearer view of what’s needed from the outset.