Can the Internet of Things be ‘fair’?

Can the Internet of Things be ‘Fair’? We have looked at the impact of contracts and the rise of Fair Usage as a sensible response to the rather counter intuitive situation of a Network needing protection from their customers. This works to a degree of satisfaction in almost all the cases where airtime is used. Except one-

In Internet of Things (IoT) applications (for the purposes of this argument I am going to regard IoT and Machine to Machine (M2M) as synonymous but for more details please have a look at the unwitting utilisation of Fair Usage SIMs has had a huge negative impact on mobile adoption.

Remember Fair Usage means no peer to peer, no extended VPN’s, no streaming- The very things that you are likely to do in an IoT application. While you can establish a peer-to-peer connection and stream data, if you do it for an extended period the network starts to notice. The longer you run it or the busier the network the more you are likely to start to see disruption.

Similarly, IoT Apps are built with a requirement for throughput and latency. But remember as the month goes on Fair Usage means that you are likely to see chokes, throttles or traffic shaping. If you are experiencing this kind of behaviour this may point to backhaul issues, but it could simply be that the network is applying its Fair Usage policy.

The last problem is the most subtle of all. Fair Usage usually includes a line about “Occasional Use”. Remember that the network sold the SIM with the picture of someone drinking their Double Skinny tall caramel latte with Marshmallows while they check their emails. So, if a SIM has been on for three weeks continuously streaming NOX levels it is in breach of the policy it was sold under.

The network is then acting quite reasonably if it kicks the offending unit off network. The unit then knows it should be on network and attempts to reattach. The network sees this unit trying to reattach despite it being told to go away and interprets the reattachment as an attack. Things go downhill from there.

But how would you know? The unit worked fine in the lab but now it struggles to stay on network, gets constantly kicked off and even when it does get on fails to get anything like the connection speeds you were expecting. You might blame the network, the hardware vendor or even your own developers.

You can specify Machine to Machine SIMs, but many vendors confuse Mobile Broadband (MBB) Business to Business (B2B) with M2M as all being ‘data’. Mobius has only ever sold M2M Airtime so provenance with us is beyond doubt. If you don’t, the next time it stops working it could simply be that the network is trying to be ‘Fair’.

Written by

Douglas Gilmour

Douglas formed Mobius in 2003 after twenty years’ experience in the Semiconductor industry. He was driven by the idea that airtime could be better and more secure.