In July, the ITU approved new standards concerning the Internet of Things and M2M.

Dr Bilel Jamoussi, Chief of the ITU-T's Study Groups Department, explains what they are and the impact they will have. How much do you think the lack of standards/regulation has held back the development of the M2M market?

Dr Bilel Jamoussi: M2M and the many other networked technologies that form the broad Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem will rely to an enormous extent on the technical interoperability provided by international standards.

IoT technology development is flourishing but, without global standards, today’s fragmented IoT markets would continue to experience interoperability shortfalls, a lack of scalability and costs too high to achieve any significant growth.

ICT standardisation also runs in parallel with innovation, providing the common platforms needed to enable continued innovation and market development.

There is, however, a natural lag between innovation and standardisation as standards attempt to reflect new ICT ecosystems.

A similar relationship exists between national regulations and international standards, whereby national regulations seek to apply the globally-agreed best practices presented by international standards.

Global consensus is the key ingredient to ensuring global implementation of ITU Recommendations, and the ITU’s new IoT standards, created through the collaboration of governments and the private sector, will lead to national regulations encouraging widespread IoT market growth.  

What are the key areas that the standards cover?

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2060, Overview of the Internet of Things, is a milestone that marks ITU members’ approval of a definition of IoT, terming it: “A global infrastructure for the Information Society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on, existing and evolving, interoperable information and communication technologies.”

It clarifies the concept and scope of IoT, identifying its fundamental characteristics and high-level requirements, and offering a detailed description of the IoT reference model. Additionally, the standard presents an informative appendix discussing the IoT ecosystem and the business models of which it will be composed.

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2061, Requirements for support of machine-oriented communication applications in the NGN environment, provides an overview of machine-oriented communication (MOC) applications in next-generation network (NGN) environments; covering the NGN extensions, additions and device capabilities required to support MOC applications.

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2062, Framework of object-to-object communication for ubiquitous networking in an NGN environment, describes the concept and high-level architectural model of such communication, and presents a mechanism to identify objects and enable communications between them.

Members have also recently consented the approval of another two IoT standards: Recommendations ITU-T Y.2063, Framework of Web of Things, and Y.2069, Terms and definitions for Internet of Things.

In addition, ITU-T’s new Focus Group on the M2M Service Layer (FG M2M) has just begun its work to identify the standardisation demands of a common M2M service layer, focusing initially on the healthcare sector.

It is essential that we establish a common M2M service layer, agreed at the global level by stakeholders from the M2M and vertical-market communities, in order to provide an internationally-accessible, cost-efficient platform able to be easily deployed in hardware and software, in a multi-vendor environment and across industry sectors.

What difference will your definition/standards make to the players in this ecosystem?

ITU’s new IoT standards are an indication of global consensus on the technical environment to underpin IoT, and this unified view of IoT’s parameters will lead to an explosion in the development and implementation of IoT’s constituent technologies.

The IoT ecosystem demands a strong basis in international technical standards, as the market can only begin to scale up IoT implementation once IoT’s functional architectures have been defined.

The ICT sector’s willingness to implement IoT currently outweighs its capability to do so; a capability closely linked to the availability of globally-agreed standards.

Standardised definitions, frameworks and functional architectures will provide clear guidance to the IoT technology development occurring around the globe, clarifying the technologies to form the broad IoT ecosystem as well as the technical preconditions for its functionality.

Global consensus on the definition and scope of IoT will encourage the development of a multi-vendor environment characterised by interoperable IoT solutions, greater economies of scale and a wider adoption of services.

If 50 billion devices are to be connected to the Internet by 2020, global standards will have a central role to play – stipulating the common communication protocols and functional frameworks required to enable such ubiquitous ICT networking.

This is an abridged version of a Q&A that will appear in the Q3 issue of European Communications magazine, which features an M2M special report. Click here to ensure you receive your copy

European Communications is also hosting a free-to-attend M2M seminar on 20 September. Click here to view the agenda and register your attendance.

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