SAN FRANCISCO—Verizon wants to connect billions of things within the space of its 4G LTE network and wants to make it easier to do so. The company announced (Oct. 28) an Internet of Things (IoT) development platform, ThingSpace, a platform aimed at simplifying affordable connectivity in smart cities, healthcare, agriculture, energy, and sharing platforms.
“Most of what we’re participating in today and a good portion of our revenues come from services and participating in the application layer,” Mike Lanman, senior vice president of Verizon’s enterprise and IoT products, said at a company event.
Until now, developers who wanted to create and connect IoT devices would need to work with five or six companies, Verizon officials said. The web-based ThingSpace platform wants to be an easy on-ramp to IoT with dedicated application programming interfaces (APIs), partner development kits, as well as test and deployment services.
Verizon will also roll out an IoT network core with new connectivity at an undisclosed time. IoT requires an updated network core because connected devices require higher bandwidth but send less data, Verizon Chief Technologist Pramod Kalyanasundaram told EE Times. Existing chips are mostly optimized for smartphones, which use a lot of data but aim for less bandwidth.
While the ThingSpace platform has several connectivity protocols including Zigbee, Verizon advocates for wide area networks (WAN) as the communications protocol of choice for IoT. Price is a major barrier to WAN use, Lanman said, and module costs are often double that of Wi-Fi or Zigbee.
To combat such high prices, the cellular company also announced a Sequans chipset that it says halves the price of existing connections into Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Verizon officials did not offer chip specs but said the technology is already deployed in the market and, in conjunction with the IoT core, will drop WAN access charges.
“Once we lit up Internet of Things solutions for our customers, many struggled on how to manage the amount of data they’re getting,” Lanman said, adding that ThingSpace will also have data analytics options.
Verizon can’t go it alone and offered up several partner companies to discuss the role of IoT platforms across industries. The company partnered with Renesas, Intel, and others to create Verizon-branded IoT platforms and cloud connected devices.
Customers need to connect to the cloud in order to be successful, Renesas CEO Ali Sebt told EE Times. In June, Renesas launched an API platform and a new scalable family of MCUs for IoT and sensors.
“Most of our customers build fixed function machines. The monetization of IoT is taking information and deriving intelligence from it,” Sebt said.
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