SCTE ramps up IoT working group as Comcast, other cable companies push into sector


The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has announced the creation of an Internet of Things (IoT) working group, as constituents including Comcast explore low-power wireless networking technologies to possibly enter the IoT sector. 

SCTE’s IoT Working Group will rise within its standards body. Chris Cholas, gateway solutions architect for Intel, will chair the new unit. 

"Even as it opens the door to new business opportunities, the massive number of Internet of Things devices that are being connected to our networks present unique reliability and security requirements," said Chris Bastian, senior VP and CTO of SCTE and its sibling org, the International Society of Broadband Experts (ISBE). "Our new IoT working group is intended to bring together network operators and vendors to determine how best to standardize and operationalize these new services.”

SCTE predicted that there will be 30 billion internet-connected devices by 2020.

Projections vary, of course. While announcing its trial deployment of LoRa-based low-power wide-areas network (LPWAN) technology in the U.S., Comcast predicted that there will be 27 billion “machine-to-machine” connections by 2025. 

Under the agreement with semiconductor maker Semtech Corp, Comcast will trial machineQ, a new service built for low-power internet of things (IoT) services, based on LoRa technology. LoRa is one of numerous technologies – along with Sigfox, Ingenu and various 3GPP cellular standards – competing for an emerging IoT market based on low-power, low-cost wireless networking. These technologies support slow-speed wireless network services, connected to inexpensive devices with years of battery life, for a wide range of business verticals such as agricultural companies, utilities and others.

Using Semtech’s wireless radio frequency technology, Comcast will deploy low-power wide-areas networks in Philadelphia and San Francisco in the fourth quarter, performing such tasks as utility metering, environmental monitoring (e.g., temperature, pollution, noise), and asset tracking through LoRa technology-enabled devices and network services. 

If the trial is successful, the MSO said it might expand it up to 30 cities over a period of 30 months. 

"We believe the business-to-business segment of the Internet of Things market is going to expand rapidly over the next decade as businesses look to IoT-based technology to manage their businesses in a more effective and sophisticated manner," said Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer, Comcast Cable. "Technologies such as LoRa are setting the stage for the era of connected devices, and we think our network potentially has a role to play in connecting the millions of internet-enabled devices deployed within enterprises.”

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