Low-quality connectivity jeopardises IoT

IoT poor connection
Sheila Zabeu -

October 18, 2023

Companies are settling for poor connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT), with only 1% achieving levels higher than 98% on average across all their device sets. Only 16 per cent achieve levels higher than 95 per cent, according to a recent Eseye report based on an Opinion Matters survey.

Connectivity with 100 per cent performance is required for many IoT deployments, so accepting a low level of connectivity quality is worrying. Imagine, for example, the damage caused by situations in which IoT equipment in medical applications loses connectivity during examinations or even surgeries.

“It’s shocking that companies are jeopardising their goals and risking seeing customer dissatisfaction or product failures due to poor connectivity. In our eyes, anything less than 100 per cent is not good enough, and that’s been our mantra all along,” comments Paul Marshall, co-founder and chief operating officer of Eseye.

As the research suggests, successful IoT connectivity involves more than simply buying SIMs and contracting data services. Resilient and reliable global coverage is very important for many business cases; only a unique combination of network resources, hardware, device optimisation and professional services expertise can guarantee it.

The survey is in its third annual edition and involved around 1,000 decision-makers in the UK and US in five sectors of activity – electric vehicle charging and smart grids, healthcare and medical devices, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, and smart sales. The aim of the study is to examine opportunities and challenges related to IoT adoption, comparing its growth by market and vertical and revealing budget forecasts for the next two years.

Respondents seemed satisfied with the services, despite connectivity levels significantly below those proposed by best practices. Companies lack the technical expertise to make the most of their IoT investments. Although investments and the number of devices are growing, a lack of emphasis on quality is holding the sector back, the study points out.

The main challenge is to have reliable connectivity for IoT devices in several countries or regions. Many countries are banning permanent roaming, so connectivity service providers simply can’t offer it because they don’t have geographical coverage agreements in multiple regions.

Costs and other issues

Almost all of those interviewed (95 per cent) said that costs are an important aspect when choosing a connectivity service provider. “Companies may not be aware that their standard of connectivity is inferior, as they may not have a proper benchmark and are making a false economy when they put costs as the main concern rather than the value generated,” Marshall points out, adding that this lack of knowledge regarding connectivity performance clearly points to the need to better guide the market on what should be acceptable in order to ensure that IoT deployments are successful.

However, the majority of respondents (81 per cent) expect the number of IoT devices in the field to grow over the next 18 months, and almost three quarters (72 per cent) plan to increase their IoT budgets over the next two years.

The same proportion recognises that getting the design of IoT devices right is fundamental to having an effective project. There was consensus (81 per cent) that getting IoT device design right is fundamental to a successful IoT project. Despite this, operational failures are generally down to the devices, with more than two thirds (67 per cent) of respondents saying that the majority of problems in IoT projects are down to these elements. Worse still, respondents say they can’t find help when they need it – almost three quarters (72 per cent) say that embedded firmware developers are hard to find and scarce, for example.

Nine out of 10 respondents said that it would be beneficial for businesses if they could assess the level of maturity of IoT projects and compare them with industry peers – 95 per cent of US-based survey participants and 86 per cent in the UK. For 94 per cent of respondents in the United States, monthly subscription services covering all IoT services would be excellent, compared to 84 per cent in the United Kingdom.

Health sector

According to the study, the healthcare sector is dominating the IoT adoption race with mass deployments compared to other business segments. Around 9 per cent of respondents have already deployed between 10,000 and 100,000 devices. They expect to continue seeing this growth, with 84 per cent revealing plans to increase their assets and 31 per cent disclosing that they plan to double the number of devices already deployed today – the highest share among the five sectors surveyed. Given this, it’s no surprise that 72 per cent expect to increase their IoT budgets over the next two years to help fuel this progress. Connectivity problems possibly attributable to IoT hardware have already caused headaches for 72 per cent of respondents in this sector. It’s worth noting that connected devices used in healthcare generally monitor critical conditions, so any interruption in connectivity can have severe effects.