Telcos provide the connectivity

Javier Zorzano works att the Physical Internet Lab at Telefónica Digital. The text is taken from our publication “Internet of Things”, about how the media industries can benefit from a network of connected things.

It can be considered that in developed countries a practical totality of consumers own a mobile phone and nearly all computers have an Internet connection.

For the worlds Telecommunication providers (the Tel- cos), this is a notable achievement, but also a considerable challenge. User base will not grow, meaning bigger revenues will not be generated in the way it used to. Furthermore, market forces drive revenues and margins down.

Global roaming

The Internet of Things opens up a different landscape. On the one hand and as Robert Louis Stevenson’s verse says: ”The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” In an IoT-world the numbers managed are simply overwhelming. It may take generations to fully connect the physical world. On the other hand, providing this connectivity is something Telcos do naturally, without reinventing themselves.

Telcos have the scale, the technology and the processes to connect anything, anywhere in the world to the Internet. 2G or 3G networks cover pervasively most of the world’s surface. Satellites reach even the remotest locations. Through Telcos networks Internet connected Things can run out of the box, seamlessly, with no configuration by the owner.

The Limit is the Sky
A wired world. Photo by* deadair, CC BY-NC-SA

New kinds of interaction

Keyboards and screens have been our interface to the Internet and its content for a long time. Internet content and services lie in a separate world, the cyberspace, that people sporadically view through a ever-shrinking glass.

The Internet of Things allows creators to provide Internet interaction through any kind of physical object. It is especially interesting considering the common objects we use every day as a part of this interface.

On the one hand common objects have simpler interfaces, with reduced expressivity. This is a problem. But, on the other hand, these objects fit human tasks and accompany them silently through their lives. Besides, human beings interact strongly with objects, putting lots of feelings into them.

So, physical objects give new chances to media companies. People will receive or interact with content through their environment, in a completely immersive experience. Creators will be able to coordinate different interfaces, such as sensors, tools, furniture, screens and, of course, web pages or mobile apps.

Of course creators will have to imagine new content structures that fit this new scenario. The challenge is huge but the tools are there and the prize is a fully new world.