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A billion things are already on the IoT: Verizon

Oh great: That leaves another four billion security risks to prepare for

Verizon reckons the Internet of Things is no longer a “nascent” market, reporting that there are already more than a billion devices out there running business-to-business IoT operations.

In its “state of the market” report (free with registration) covering the IoT in 2015, the company predicts that the B2B IoT space will pass 5 billion devices by 2020.

Among the carrier's enterprise customers, manufacturing leads the way, with a more than four-fold increase in M2M connections on Verizon's network in 2013-2014. Finance (up 128 per cent) and media/entertainment (120 per cent) were also in the vanguard, while laggards were energy and utilities (49 per cent up), “smart cities” (46 per cent) and healthcare (40 per cent).

To pick an example, it's perhaps understandable that the energy sector is conservative, given the sensitivity of its control networks and the persistent vulnerability of SCADA systems. The main traffic driver, it appears, is various government initiatives to encourage or mandate smart meter rollouts.

Interestingly, Verizon places a strong bet for the growth of renewables in the US, saying that by 2025 more than 10 per cent of electricity in that country will be micro-generated by consumers, creating a new IoT traffic source in its network.

Verizon's B2B IoT prediction

5 billion IoT business devices by 2020 says Verizon

While network vendors love to talk up the IoT as the reason carriers all over the world are going to need new network platforms, Verizon notes that “there will be much greater reliance on networks, even though most IoT traffic will be low volume and in short bursts”.

The company also says increasingly, there will be devices to “process, filter and and analyse data right at the edge of the network, so decisions can be quickly made”.

Verizon notes the security challenges the IoT brings. Since its focus is on businesses rather than consumers, the company reasonably notes that IT pros asked to implement IoT strategies need to assume they have to build-in security from the start since “Every sensor, device, and connection … is a potential risk”.

Device management is important, the report says, as is the use of (hopefully non-compromised) digital certificates to handle device and system authentication. “Both identity and access rights” need to be protected, the report states.

Even if a five-fold growth in devices brings a commensurate growth in the current IoT revenue of US$585 million for Verizon, by 2020 it would still be relatively tiny: a little shy of US$3 billion in a company whose 2014 cash-through-the-door tally topped US$88bn. ®

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