Is the IoT being buoyed upwards by, well, everything else?

IoT WiFi
Image credit: Montri Nipitvittaya /

It seems as if everything is taking off. Let’s forget 5G for a moment (you won’t be able to at MWC, let’s face it) and two news items catch the eye.

One says that IoT adoption and usage is accelerating.

The other says that WiFi is now an enormous market.

The IoT report comes from Vodafone, who has just updated their annual IoT ‘Barometer’. It says that 34% of companies are now using IoT and 76% of those companies believe it to be mission critical. Almost all of the respondents believe that the benefits are clear and measurable.

Early predictions and uptake of IoT was always going to provide a few false positives. Companies say that one reason for the increased uptake is that replacement parts and systems now come with IoT devices or sensors built in. Others says that off-the-shelf solutions are a fast and easy way into IoT adoption.

Either way, the list of benefits that companies are experiencing reads like a CEO’s wish list for shareholders. There is everything in the list, from reduced costs (cited by 53%), increases in existing revenue streams to new revenue streams coming online as a result of adoption.

It is safe to say, looking at Vodafone’s data at least, that IoT is here to stay and even though there may be many flavours and connectivity requirements a virtuous circle seems to have developed that will push adoption ever higher.

One other technology that seems to have quietly spread far and wide is WiFi, which according to Boingo is now a market capitalised at $800 billion, has 8 billion devices deployed, of which 3 billion were put in place in the last year.

While that is interesting enough, when figures like these are added together, the two news items point to IoT applications that need WiFi or 4G or even 5G make much more sense. Coverage seems to be far less of an issue than some might believe.

According to Boingo, there are – so far – no use cases that WiFi cannot perform that 5G can. This means that when 5G begins to roll out, in patches and areas and specific locations for specific applications, the result will be connectivity that reminds you of Douglas Adam’s description of the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash (WSOGMM).

And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as nothing mission critical falls down the gap between WiFi and 5G.

So while MWC will be all about 5G, spare a thought for the context and the raft of really rather useful things that can be achieved with 4G and WiFi.

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