Although the term was first coined in 1999 by a British technologist working for Procter and Gamble , the Internet of Things (IoT) actually dates back to 1982, when the Arpanet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) – the first public packet-switched network – had just 300 computers connected to it .
The story goes that a group of computer science graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were thirsty but frustrated. The Coke machine was on the third floor of the university’s Wean Hall, and all too often they would arrive there to discover that the dispenser was empty, or worse, full of warm soda.
So they decided to connect the machine to the university’s computer network. By checking online, the parched researchers could ensure the machine was stocked with cold bottles before visiting. This is thought to be one of the first noncomputer objects to go online .
Nearly 40 years later and following, as McKinsey put it, “years of hype, anticipation, and steady uptake”, IoT is finally poised to cross over into mainstream business use .
It hasn’t been without some false starts. But the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have vastly accelerated IoT trends that were already underway.
In 2021 alone, it is expected that the global number of connected IoT devices will grow 9%, to 12.3 billion active endpoints. By 2025, it’s thought there will be more than 27 billion IoT connections.
“The rapid increase in IoT deployments over the last few years highlights the considerable progress global industry has made to overcome some of the world’s most challenging forces,” said Mike Carter, president of Inmarsat Enterprise. “It is particularly interesting, though logical, that Covid-19 has further catalysed businesses to increase their reliance on Industry 4.0 technologies, and particularly the industrial internet of things, in order to maintain business continuity.”
High-speed data connectivity is of course a prerequisite when it comes to IoT devices reaching their maximum potential, an opportunity that MVNOs should be capitalising on as we move further and further into industrial digital transformation.