The Internet of Things is rapidly growing in importance, quantity and adoption. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be an estimated 20 billion IoT devices in the world. GSMA Intelligence has similarly projected over 25 billion devices in 2025. That means that in 2020, there will be four times more IoT devices than the entire current world population: an astounding number. That evolution can be attributed to the success these devices have had in making our lives more convenient and simpler. 

We are seeing IoT-enabled devices and applications as diverse as household appliances, pacemakers, self-driving cars, production lines, home security, infrastructures or financial services. Some do not need a permanent connection and require only low data rates. Others call for 24/7, cross-border functionality with ultra-reliable connectivity and low latency. What they all have in common, however, is the need for the best connectivity for their requirements and protection from harmful attacks. Regarding the latter, the growth of IoT devices also unfortunately expands the security risks. 

In 2016, much of the internet was suddenly inaccessible to a large part of the eastern region of the US. That was the result of the Mirai malware finding and infecting poorly secured IoT devices to form a botnet army. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack it mounted flooded targeted servers with malicious traffic and brought many major websites to a halt for hours. The Mirai incident is unfortunately just one example of hackers taking over IoT devices for devious purposes. Other significant attacks have been well documented over the last few years.

It’s clear that the booming IoT market needs strong security solutions and superior connectivity for future growth. We will surely see a huge response to those needs from providers over the next months and years. At Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, we have been working to shore up safety for some time. Our security portfolio is to my mind the most comprehensive on the market today, allowing our customers to provide best-in-class defense. We have a wide range of products to safeguard our clients’ assets, ranging from on-premise to cloud based solutions. And we continually foster advances that will detect and prevent attacks.

In addition, the future will bring continual advancements that enhance connectivity.  One of our contributions to that is our newly launched Regional Packet Gateway. It provides the low packet latency and extremely high-volume throughput necessary for mission-critical IoT scenarios. This is accomplished by routing transcontinental data roaming traffic locally, instead of back to the originating home network. Our local gateways are installed at strategic locations around the world, thereby greatly improving performance. For IoT applications that communicate only small amounts of data infrequently – such as smart parking sensors or freight tracking solutions –Deutsche Telekom Group has also deployed NB-IoT in nine European markets including Germany, as well as the United States.

To satisfy the challenges and demands of IoT in an international context, however, carriers need to work closer together. What we are proposing are standardized quality-of-service (QoS) parameters that are synchronized between carriers, between carriers and their IPX providers, and between IPX providers. Although the GSMA has done considerable work in implementing the Global Roaming Quality (GRQ) framework laid out in their BA.51 Roaming SLA Handbook, we believe it could further be extended to the IPX area. This will only be possible if we move further forward together as an industry.