In June, Bell Canada announced a $1.1 billion plan to install high-speed “Gigabit Fibe” throughout Toronto as part of its $20 billion plan to connect individuals and businesses in Canadian cities to gigabit-speed internet by 2020.
But these connections aren’t just for surfing the web and binging on Netflix – they will form one of the key pillars of the Internet of Things and it could be essential in making Toronto a leading Smart City, according to Bell Mobility’s Gary Semplonius, vice-president of business sales.
An IoT device like the Nest thermostat is a hardware and software device that senses the temperature of a room, then gives and receives instructions to and from other networked devices to adjust the room temperature.
IoT at its most basic level involves four things: a device, software, sensors, and network connectivity, according to Semplonius, who is Bell Mobility’s VP of sales for business wireless, radio and paging. Bell has been focused on the network aspect of IoT, which is a key enabler.
At this year’s Technicity conference, he said that devices and software have come a long way, but that ensuring that devices have power and network connectivity are the factors that will contribute to the takeoff of IoT.
“In the past getting power to these devices meant wired power solutions; a ton of innovation in that area has resulted in batteries that last 5-10 years and solar power that change how power gets to these electronics. The second innovation is the proliferation of wireless networks and wireless network speed, as such you don’t need hard-line connections to these devices anymore,” Semplonius said.
“The real innovations in IoT are not electronics, software and sensors; it’s really about power and the proliferation of networks.”
Gigabit Fibe helps increases the overall capacity of internet connections, but many IoT devices are connected wirelessly and will be competing for connectivity with the smartphones and other devices already using wireless connections.
To meet the demand for wireless connectivity, Semplonius said there need to be more access points but there’s some resistance to building cell towers. One way he suggests to grow capacity is to work with municipalities on smart kiosks which are three-metre-tall pedestals street-level devices that would allow cities to could provide Wifi to citizens, which could have other benefits as well.
For instance, New York City announced plans this year to replace pay phones with a network of kiosks that provide secure public wifi.
Smart Cities will have to connect more and more people and devices, and this will require more robust networks to connect everything – and some news ways of providing access wherever it’s needed.