Over the last few years, a lot has been said about the internet of things (IoT). But its definition is often misunderstood. IoT is the interconnection of devices embedded in everyday objects, which can then send and receive data.

So, it could be the sensors in your FitBit relaying your data to a network connected to your smartphone or the thermostat in your smart air-conditioner at home, that knows exactly what temperature setting you prefer at a particular time of the day.

But, IoT isn’t a technology of the future. Gartner forecasts that 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and that number will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. The same report says that total spending on endpoints and services will reach almost $2 trillion in 2017. Regionally, Greater China, North America and Western Europe are driving the use of connected things and the three regions together will represent 67 percent of the overall IoT installed base in 2017. Speak to any tech enthusiast in India and you’ll know it’s here to stay as well.

VS Sridhar, senior vice president and head of the IoT business at Tata Communications Ltd. told BloombergQuint his team has been working on building the world’s largest IoT network in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru.

VS Sridhar, Head, IoT-Business, Tata Communications In the office, the biggest thing a CFO (chief financial officer) would be concerned about would be energy consumption. Are my lights and air conditioners running at the right time? Now, with IoT devices it’s very easy because you can switch it on at 9 a.m. in the morning and off at 9 p.m., remotely sitting anywhere in the world because these devices are all connected on the IP.

Tata Communications has been working closely with Semtech Corporation, a semiconductor company, to build the world’s largest IoT machine-to-machine network. The company is keen to contribute to India’s smart cities programme with this technology.

While IoT is generally associated with wearable devices, there are industrial uses of the technology as well. Gartner’s research reveals that as consumers continue to purchase devices, businesses are spending more. In 2017, in terms of hardware spending, the use of connected things among businesses will amount to $964 billion. Consumer applications will amount to $725 billion in 2017. By 2020, hardware spending in both segments is pegged at almost $3 trillion.

Tata Communications uses low power, wide area network (LPWAN) technology-based on LoRa for connected devices and IoT applications. That’s also the reason these devices consume much less power and have enhanced range. Sridhar adds, “This LoRa network is available in about 30 countries. In a way, it is not only India, but LoRa is being deployed in multiple countries the way we are deploying it. Globally, these devices can roam anywhere.”

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