IoT-based devices are central to how modern society functions. Countless systems, ranging from warehouse monitoring to our smart home appliances and even medical devices, rely on this technology, operating in the background of our daily lives. What we often overlook, however, is that in order to do so, IoT devices need to tap into the cellular network. To that end, it makes sense, at least superficially, that IoT devices would benefit from the launch of 5G connectivity, right?

While it’s true that 5G has received a lot of hype focusing on how it will support businesses through faster data transfers, the fact is that many IoT developers have turned their attention to a much older technology: the mostly abandoned frequency that formerly used to support household wireless phones. Since so few people have home phones anymore, this network is now free for other uses.

Shifting From Cellular

The idea that IoT would shift away from cellular networks even as those networks are getting more powerful may seem surprising, but there are good reasons for the shift. Thanks largely to the networking company Wirepas, ETSI developed a new standard for IoT radio, supplementing other designated airwaves like Bluetooth or proprietary frequencies. In other words, this alternative frequency won’t displace all other modes of IoT connection, but will offer additional points of contact, and the more pathways available, the more data can be transmitted.

It should be noted that, although Wirepas has been the global leader in the push to standardize DECT-2020 NR, they aren’t the only contributors. Another major player is Qualcomm, which has been investing in network support for the system.

Standardizing Connections

One of the most important factors enabling this alternative IoT pathway is the development of an ETSI standard, as mentioned above. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute creates global standards for communications technologies, which means that the norms for this pathway will be accessible to end-users around the globe, and implementation is relatively easy because of the nature of radio frequencies. Taken together, it’s easy to see that the advantages of this network strategy are rooted in its global reach – but they don’t stop there. In fact, what makes this system stand out from the pack may just be its technical simplicity, rather than its reach.

Low Latency, Low Planning

There’s a very simple reason that radio was the first mode of wireless communication: it doesn’t require much in the way of infrastructure. That makes it equally simple to shift IoT devices to this pathway. As industry experts have explained, it’s an approach that demands minimal pre-planning to institute and offers low-latency connectivity with less complexity than most other digital systems. Furthermore, while the ETSI standards rely on a global frequency around 1900 MHz, the basic framework can easily be replicated on other frequencies for closed systems like warehouse logistics.

Efficiency And Accuracy

Obviously there are a number of different attributes that make radio-based IoT a valuable addition to our current connectivity model, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of this system is how it competes on information delivery. In a study of the DECT-2020 NR, the technology regulated by the ETSI standard, researchers compared the system to mMTC enablers used in 5G connectivity and found that the DECT-2020 NR system offered a high degree of energy efficiency while remaining competitive in terms of packet loss ratio.

Read More: Benefits of Using IoT for Small Businesses

The Old Becomes New

As various old technologies become obsolete, it’s likely we’ll find other ways of repurposing pathways and infrastructure to meet a new set of needs. The key to such discoveries, however, lies with curiosity: we have to be willing to look. After all, it’s unlikely that wireless handsets were at the top of anyone’s mind while thinking about contemporary IoT applications, and yet the two are now inextricably linked. Technology, and those who work with it, must continue to dwell in the art of the possible and sometimes that means looking backward.

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