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IPv6, LTE and IPSO: Not So Long Term Evolution to 50 Billion Devices

Yves Poppe

Who would dare to predict the year the Internet will reach 50 billion addressable devices?

Thomas Noren, head of LTE product development at Ericsson sees one day 50 billion devices shouldered by LTE (source). He sees LTE as the truly global standard putting to rest the long and acrimonious rivalry between CDMA and GSM protagonists and even sees the Chinese third way with their TD-SCDMA aligned on LTE. Mobile WiMax is, in his mind, already relegated to the dustbin of history.

But whether or not it will all be riding on LTE, the 50 billion mark for addressable devices will be reached sooner rather than later. It goes without saying that to realize this vision, LTE needs IPv6. It was reassuring to see Verizon confirm their support for IPv6 and it would be great to see the other early movers such as our Canadian trio Bell, Rogers and Telus, our Nordic friends Teliasonera, Tele2 and Telenor not to forget our Japanese friends NTT Docomo and KDDI also voice their commitment. IPv6 is a minor aspect in the big LTE scheme of things but is essential for its success as a truly global and pervasive means of communications.

While some of the world's leading LTE proponents and experts exchange notes at world summits and the WiMax Forum has very interesting summits of its own, other parts of the ecosystem are also conspiring to reach the 50 billion device milestone sooner rather than later. Foremost amongst them is the IPSO Alliance, their mission as indicated by the acronym is to make sure small objects with embedded IP can communicate between each other and those of other suppliers. The Alliance organized an interoperability demo at the Interop in Las Vegas in May. Sensors from a variety of suppliers located on three continents, all addressable in IPv6, supplied over 100,000 readings on temperature, humidity etc. As stated in the press release: "Each node in the demonstration communicated using IPv6 directly between the sensor nodes without the use of proprietary protocols, gateways or translators". It is easy to overlook the magnitude of this news and to what extend the gates to the true emergence and growth of the Internet of things have been opened by this initiative.

It is safe to bet it will not take a decade to see 50 billion addressable things on the Internet. These things are obviously devices as the Webster tells us that device means amongst other things : 'a piece of equipment or a mechanism designed to serve a special purpose or perform a special function'.

As to whether all these device things will talk via LTE, that remains to be seen; what is sure though is that they'll talk IPv6.

By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications (Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.) Visit Page
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embedded OSes will help Derek Morr  –  Jun 30, 2009 1:18 PM PDT

Along these lines, I was pleased to see the new release of Contiki, which includes improved IPv6 support. Extremely lightweight embedded, IPv6-enabled OSes will be essential for achieving the goals of the IETF's 6LoWPAN WG.

IP should also drive the Smart Grid industry Chano Gomez  –  Jul 01, 2009 7:13 AM PDT

The IPSO demonstration mentioned in the article shows how the future "Smart Grid" should look like. Additional commentary at "IP for Smart Objects shows future of Smart Grid” and "Why the Smart Grid must be based on IP standards”.

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