Glenn Lurie: The Future of the Internet of Things (IoT)

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The Internet of Things (IoT) represents an increasingly connected world, one where everything is connected, and everyday devices in our lives communicate wirelessly and intelligently to streamline and simplify our lives. With the rise of AI/machine learning technology along with IoT continues to expand, and more “smart” devices  — from cars to buildings, to cities, etc., etc. — are becoming connected.

Glenn Lurie, former president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, shares his insights into:

  • The early days of the IoT.
  • Some of the challenges that wireless network networks and providers must still overcome.
  • What the IoT will mean for our future.

The Early Days of Emerging Devices, which is now IoT at AT&T

Today, the idea of our devices communicating with one another — or us talking to them, as in the case of artificial intelligence (AI) assistants — is relatively commonplace. However, back in 2008, when Lurie launched AT&T’s Emerging Devices, now IoT business, the telecommunications giant was among the first network carriers to embrace the concept.

At the time, there were virtually no connected devices, some machine-to-machine happening, and the term IoT didn’t exist. Apple had just launched the iPhone (Lurie led the negotiations with Apple to gain AT&T release exclusivity). Apple’s app store was waiting in the wings, ready to emerge and eventually revolutionize everything.

Earlier than most, Lurie and AT&T saw the growing importance of  connectivity for every device in our lives, understanding that the internet would one day link everything — from smartphones to homes and cities.

AT&T began wirelessly enabling various devices, including Amazon’s Kindle, cars and various other consumer and industrial devices. The company especially saw the potential for connectivity in the car industry, wirelessly enabling BMW and Audi vehicles in the early days.

While AT&T has led the way in wireless-enabled devices for over 10 years, other carriers around the globe were a bit slower to react to the new technology and opportunity. Lurie explains that since 2008 the overall IoT industry has grown “a little slower than people thought,” but the combination of improvements and changes in cost, the launching of 5G that delivers low latencies, etc., will continue to drive the IoT evolution and growth.

The Hyper-Connected Future

For Lurie, the IoT represents the future of mobility and connectivity. He describes it as a “fully connected world that learns and makes our lives better.”

Imagine a future where your entire home is a hub of connected devices, all sharing information and linked to your calendar. The IoT can turn your light on when you wake up in the morning or order your coffee to collect at the right time on your way to work. What’s more, the IoT could help your car communicate with the city’s traffic information to ensure you navigate to appointments on time.

Lurie is currently a board member at Avis Budget Group, and cars play a large role in the future of the IoT. He emphasizes that cars must become “smartphones with four wheels,” offering a host of services to users, including safe transport and entertainment.

Connected cars also present massive opportunities to those manufacturing and insuring vehicles. Vehicle manufacturers will be able to track the performance of connected cars and use data to improve future vehicles, while insurance companies will be able to gather data to base insurance premiums on driver behavior.

5G and Private Networks

Lurie emphasizes that as the future of the IoT must involve high-speed decision-making, devices require networks that can deliver data in real-time. For IoT processes to occur rapidly and reliably, networks will need to offer transmission at unprecedented speeds.

5G represents the fifth-generation standard for broadband cellular networks and the first generation to not simply provide faster speeds and greater capacity but also prioritize problem-solving.

5G also has an exceedingly low latency rate (the delay between transmitting and receiving information). 5G’s latency is so low that it has allowed Chinese surgeons to perform real-time remote surgery. Imagine what 5G networks — or future generations of networks — could do for connected cars.

Lurie adds that 5G private networks will also play a major role in the IoT. These private networks will allow users to have more control over their data in certain locations, with devices transitioning seamlessly from private networks to wide-area wireless networks when on the move.

Unconscious Connectivity

According to Lurie, one crucial aspect of a fully realized IoT is giving customers “unconscious connectivity.” This means the customer shouldn’t have to think about what network they are on; they simply need to feel confident that they can stay connected at all times, whether roaming between private and wider area networks or across borders.

The future of the IoT will see devices constantly connected using intelligent eSIM platforms, intelligently selecting, prioritizing, and moving between networks when needed. Lurie explains that making this work effectively through “intelligent credentialing platforms” will be “absolutely imperative” to the success of IoT.

For example, a connected car requires constant connectivity: If there’s an issue with the car or an accident occurs, the vehicle must have network connectivity to be able to call for help. While Lurie acknowledges that individual carriers do great work, without collaboration between networks, there will always be “dead spots,” where devices lose connection. This can’t happen if cars are to fully synchronize with the IoT.

Glenn Lurie on the Synchronoss personal cloud and accelerating time to 5G revenue

SIM cards have been rapidly evolving to facilitate this huge demand for multi-carrier offerings, enabling devices to remain reliably connected all over the world. Multi-SIM and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) options, plus newer technologies like eSIM or iSIM, could provide the solution.

Glenn Lurie, IOT will Continue to Change Our Lives

This innovation excites Lurie: Spending over 30 years in the telecommunications industry, he has seen amazing progress since the early days of wireless networks and device-connectivity potential. He is confident that when network and SIM technology successfully achieve intelligent, fluid connectivity, the IoT will change our lives.

Learn more about Glenn Lurie, Synchronoss Technologies’ former CEO and president.

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