How Could Wireless Networks Be Scaled To Meet IoT Demand?

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We hear much about the value of Internet of Things (IoT) in use cases such as sustainable smart cities, manufacturing, and agriculture.

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Sensors and automation can make more efficient use of energy and other resources, reduce dependency on human intervention, and provide invaluable data and insights while doing so.

In light of the urgent need to address climate change and bolster food and water security, it’s worth questioning why the current pace of development seems to be decelerating, even when the technology is available and relatively cheap.

We talked with Nodle co-founder Micha Benoliel on this and other aspects of IoT and the hurdles this technology has to straddle.

Despite the growing adoption of IoT, why aren’t we seeing more smart cities, smart factories, and smart farms?

The issue is simple. The existing infrastructure simply can’t keep up with the increasing demand for connectivity. 5G networks are touted as the solution to our insatiable demand for high-speed internet, but even older, slower cellular services offer coverage that’s patchy at best.

Even in wealthier countries, people in smaller villages or remote areas often struggle with connectivity.

Nodle has devised a network that provides always-on connectivity via Bluetooth Low Energy. What can you share about this project?

Nodle offers constant connectivity to nearly 30 million IoT devices all over the world. It can provide coverage even in the most remote areas where other cellular or WiFi connections are unavailable.

It’s important to say that Nodle is not a WiFi network in a traditional sense. It is, rather, a global networking infrastructure that leverages the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard for connecting any BLE device to the internet.

Today, more than 50% of all IoT devices coming to the market have a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless interface. By using the standard generic attribute (GATT) protocol, any of these devices can interact with any of the Nodle edge nodes.

In plain English, this means that any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone can be turned into a node on the Nodle network. The network itself is 100% software and is leveraging everyone's smartphones through a simple App or SDK to turn them into an edge node.

What is the role of the blockchain in the development of IoT in this type of technology?

Blockchain provides the necessary incentives for people to join the network. To grow the adoption and the growth of the network leveraging smartphones, we needed an incentivization mechanism and a way to secure communications.

With blockchain, people can earn token-based rewards based on transactions recorded on-chain. In addition to recording all transactions happening on the network, the chain provides a way to create IoT applications and smart contracts to automate the billing process.

So, effectively, an IoT device can remain “offline” until it comes into range of a connected smartphone. Once in range, the IoT device can send its data to the network using the Bluetooth connection. It seems deceptively simple, but such a network has some compelling use cases.

Could these blockchain-based incentives be a basis for Web3?

Web3 is an important revolution in the way applications and services are built. Within Web3 everything is built with a decentralized approach. It means systems with more privacy, more resilient infrastructures, and less censorship.

Web3 services have a native payment layer based on the blockchain. It enables the creation of self-governing, permissionless, trustless, and verifiable systems.

It is a big enhancement from Web 2.0 where the main business model was to build scale and then monetize an audience. Web3 enables new ecosystems with for example the possibility to provide incentives for all the parties involved.”

In terms of Web3 and the future of services such as connectivity, cloud storage, or computing capacity, does it seem likely that eventually, all networks will be decentralized?

I think we have seen the limits of centralized networks and services. This is very noticeable when it comes to protecting people’s privacy. Nevertheless, it is much harder to scale decentralized networks than it is to operate a centralized one from a technological standpoint. It will take some time but decentralization is the way to go.

It will enable a big change for our society. It means building a whole new infrastructure for enabling abundance. It means contributing to shifting the mindset of scarcity that has been guiding our economies up until now to a mindset of abundance.