Internet of Things Access Technologies



Internet of Things Access Technologies

The following post discusses the various IoT Access Technologies. The Internet of Things (IoT) is accelerating the world of hyperconnectivity and bringing forth a new type of Internet of Things Access Technologies. The people are the creators, designers, and engineers of the IoT-connected world, but the sensor, actuators, and smart objects perform the magic interconnecting points. So, for the first time, we are bringing together everyone and everything. The evolution of the Internet has gone through many stages. Its structure has had to adapt to the changing needs of its consumers.


Preliminary Information: Useful Links to Relevant Content

Before you proceed, you may find the following post helpful:

  1. 6LoWPAN Range


Internet of Things Access Technologies.

Key IoT Access Technologies Discussion points:

  • Introduction to data and analytics.

  • Fog, edge and cloud computing.

  • Access technology types.

  • Comments on TCP and UDP with IoT.

  • A final note on ethical challenges.


A Key Point: Knowledge Check 

  • A key point: Back to basics with the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things consists of a network of several devices, including a range of digital and mechanical objects, with separate access to transfer information over a network. The word “thing” can also represent an individual with a heart- monitor implant or even a pet with an IoT-based collar. The term “thing” reflects the association of “internet” to devices previously disconnected with internet access. For example, the alarm clock was never meant to be internet-enabled, but now you can join it to the Internet. With IoT, the options are endless.

Then we have IoT access technologies. The three major network access technologies for IoT Connectivity are Standard Wireless Access – WiFi, 2G, 3G, and standard LTE. We also have Private Long Range – LoRA-based platforms, Zigbee and SigFox. Mobile IoT Technologies – LTE-M, NB-IoT, and EC-GSM-IoT


IoT Access Technologies

The origins of the Internet that started in the 1960s look entirely different from the map of what we have today. It is now no longer a luxury but more of a necessity. It started with areas such as basic messaging, which grew to hold the elasticity and dynamic nature of the cloud, to a significant technological shift into the world of the Internet of Things (IoT): Internet of Things theory. It’s not about buying and selling computers and connecting them anymore; it’s all about data, analytics, and new solutions, such as event stream processing.


Internet of Things Access Technologies: A New World

A World with the Right Connections

IoT represents a new world where previously unconnected devices now have new communication paths and reachability points, marking IoT as the next evolutionary phase of the Internet, building better customer solutions. The revolutionary phase is not just a technical phase; ethical challenges now face organizations, society, and governments. In the past, computers relied on input from humans. We entered keystrokes, and the machine would perform an action based on the input.

The computer had no sensors that could automatically detect the world around it and perform a specific action based on that. IoT ties these functions together. The function could be behavioral to make the object carry out a specific task or provide other information. IoT brings a human element to technology, connecting physically to logic.


IoT Access Technologies: It’s all about data and analytics

The Internet of Things is not just about connectivity. The power of IoT comes from how all these objects are connected and the analytics they provide. New analytics lead to new use cases that will lead to revolutionary ideas enhancing our lives. Sensors are not just put on machines and objects but also on living things. Have you heard of the connected cow? Maybe we should start calling this “cow computing” instead of “cloud computing.” For example, an agricultural firm called Chitale Group uses IoT technologies to keep tabs on herds to monitor their thirst.

These solutions will formulate a new type of culture, intertwining various connected objects and dramatically shifting how we interact with our surroundings. This new type of connectivity will undoubtedly formulate how we live and form the base of a new culture of connectivity and communication.


IoT Access Technologies: Data management – Edge, fog, and cloud computing

In the traditional world of I.T. networks, data management is straightforward. It is based on I.P. with a client/server model, and the data is in a central location. IoT brings new data management concepts such as Edge, Cloud, and Fog computing. There are many challenges to the sheer scale of IoT data management. Low bandwidth of the last mile leads to high latency and new IoT architectural concepts such as Fog computing, where you analyze data close to where it’s connected. 

Like the cloud in Skype, Fog is on the ground and best suited for constrained networks that need contextual awareness and quick reaction. Edge computing is another term where the processing is carried out at the furthest point – the IoT device itself. Edge computing is often called Mist computing.


IoT Access Technologies
Diagram: IoT Access Technologies. Source Cisco.


Cloud computing is not everything.

IoT brings highlights the concept that “cloud computing is not everything.” IoT will require onsite data processing; some data must be analyzed in real-time. This form of edge computing is essential when you need near-time results and when there isn’t time to send visual, speed, and location information to the cloud for instructions on what to do next. For example, if a dog runs out in front of your car, the application does not have the time for several round trips to the cloud. 

Services like iCloud have had a rough few years; businesses are worried about how secure their data will be when using one of the many cloud-based services available. This is because of the iCloud data breach back in 2014. However, with the rise of cloud security solutions, many businesses are starting to see the benefits of cloud technology as they no longer have to worry about their data security.


Internet is prone to latency.

The Internet is prone to latency, and we can do nothing about that unless we shorten the links or change the speed of light. Connected cars require the capability to “think” and make decisions on the ground without additional hops to the cloud.

Fog computing is a distributed computing infrastructure located between the edge of a network and the cloud. It is a distributed computing architecture designed to address the challenges of latency and bandwidth constraints introduced by traditional cloud computing. Rather than relying on a single, centralized data center to store and process data, fog computing decentralizes the computing process. It enables data to be processed closer to the network’s edge.

In terms of meeting the demands of emerging paradigms, fog computing performs better than cloud computing. However, batch processing is still preferred for high-end jobs in the business world, so it can only partially replace cloud computing. In conclusion, fog computing and cloud computing complement one another while having their advantages and disadvantages. Edge computing is crucial in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Security, confidentiality, and system reliability are research topics in the fog computing platform. Cloud computing will meet the needs of business communities with its lowering cost based on a utility pricing model. In contrast, fog computing is expected to serve the emerging network paradigms that require faster processing with less delay and delay jitter. Fog computing will grow by supporting the emerging network paradigms that require faster processing with less delay and delay jitter.


Internet of Things Access Technologies: Architectural Standpoint

From an architectural point of view, one must determine the technologies used to allow these “things” to communicate with each other. And the technologies chosen are determined by how the object is classified. I.T. network architecture has matured over the last decade, but IoT architectures bring new paradigms and a fresh approach. For example, traditional security designs consist of physical devices with well-designed modules. Although new technologies such as VM NIC Firewalls and other distributed firewalls other than IoT have dissolved the perimeter, IoT brings dispersed sensors outside the protected network, completely dissolving the perimeter to a new level. 

When evaluating the type of network needed to connect IoT smart objects, one needs to address transmission range, frequency bands, power consumption, topology, and constrained devices and networks. The technologies used for these topologies include IEEE 802.15.4, IEEE 802.15.4g and IEEE 802.15.4e, IEEE 1901.2a, IEEE 802.11ah, LoRaWAN, and NB-IoT. The majority of them are wireless. Similar to I.T. networks, IoT networks follow Layer 1 (PHY), Layer 2 (MAC), Layer 3 (I.P.), etc., layers. And some of these layers require optimizations to support IoT smart objects.


IP/TCP/UDP in an IoT world

The Internet Protocol (I.P.) is an integral part of IoT due to its versatility in dealing with the large array of changes in Layer 1 and Layer 2 to suit the last-mile IoT access technologies. I.P. is the Internet protocol that connects billions of networks with a well-understood knowledge base. Everyone understands I.P. and knows how to troubleshoot it. It has proven robust and scalable, providing a solid framework for bi-directional or unidirectional communication between IoT devices. Sometimes, the full I.P. stack may not be necessary as protocol overhead may exceed device data. 

More importantly, IPv6. Using I.P. for the last mile of constrained networks requires introducing a new mechanism and routing protocols, such as RLP and adaptation layers, to handle the constrained environments. In addition, routing protocol optimizations must occur for constrained devices and networks. This is where we see the introduction of the IPv6 RPL protocol. IPv6 RPL protocol is a distance-vector routing protocol specifically designed for IoT smart objects.

Optimizations are needed at various levels, and control plane traffic must be kept to a minimum leading to new algorithms such as On-Demand Distance Vector. Standard routing algorithms learn the paths and store the information for future use. This works compared to AODV, which does not send a message until a route is needed.


Both TCP and UDP have their place in IoT.

TCP and UDP will play a significant role in the transport layer for IoT. TCP for guaranteed delivery or UDP to leave the handling to a higher layer. The additional activities TCP brings to make it a reliable transport protocol come at the overhead cost per packet and session. On the other hand, UDP is connectionless and often used for performance, which is more critical than packet retransmission. Therefore, a low-Power and Lossy Networks (LLN) network may be better suited than UDP & a more robust cellular network for TCP.

Session overhead may not be a problem on everyday I.T. infrastructures. Still, it can cause stress on IoT-constrained networks and devices, especially when a device needs only to send a few bytes per bytes of data per transaction. IoT Class 0 devices that only send a few bytes do not need to implement a full network protocol stack. For example, small payloads can be transported on top of the MAC layer without TCP or UDP.


Ethical challenges

What are the ethical ramifications of IoT? Back in the cold war, everyone was freaked out about nuclear war; now, it’s all about data science. We are creating billions of connected “things,” and we don’t know what’s to come. The responsibilities around the ethical framework for IoT and the data it generates fall broadly on individual governments and society. These are not technical choices; they are socially driven. This might scare people and hold them back with IoT, but if you look at technology, it’s been an amazing force for good. One should not resist IoT and the use cases it will offer our lives. However, I don’t think it will work out well for you if you do.

There will always be risks and challenges to new technologies. But if you reflect and look at original technologies such as the wheel, it created new jobs rather than destroying old ones. IoT is the same. It’s about being on the right side of history and accepting it.


Example Use Case: Cisco’s LoRaWAN-compliant solution.

IoT sensors and endpoints can be connected cheaply across cities and rural areas with Cisco’s LoRaWAN-compliant solution. Battery life can also be extended up to several years by low power consumption. It operates in the 800–900 MHz ISM band around the globe as part of Cisco’s LoRaWAN (long-range wide-area network) solution.

The Cisco Industrial Asset Vision solution includes it and a stand-alone component. Monitoring equipment, people, and facilities with LoRaWAN sensors improve business resilience, safety, and efficiency.

Cisco IoT Solution
Diagram: Cisco IoT Solution. Source Cisco.


iot access technologies

Matt Conran
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