Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Waterloo researchers develop low-cost IoT network for 5G

Steve Rogerson
September 5, 2019

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada say they have developed a cheaper and more efficient method for IoT devices to receive high-speed wireless connectivity.
With 75 billion IoT devices expected to be in place by 2025, a growing strain will be placed on requirements of wireless networks. Contemporary wifi and cellular networks won't be enough to support the influx of IoT devices, the researchers highlighted in their study.
Millimetre wave (mm-wave), a network that offers multi-gigahertz of unlicensed bandwidth – more than 200 times that allocated to today's wifi and cellular networks – can be used to address the problem. In fact, 5G networks are going to be powered by mm-wave technology. However, the hardware required to use mm-wave is expensive and power-hungry, which are significant deterrents to it being deployed in many IoT applications.
"To address the existing challenges in exploiting mm-wave for IoT applications, we created a novel mm-wave network called mmX," said Omid Abari, an assistant professor in Waterloo's David R Cheriton School of Computer Science. "MmX significantly reduces cost and power consumption of a mm-wave network enabling its use in all IoT applications."
In comparison with wifi and Bluetooth, which are slow for many IoT applications, mmX provides a much higher bit rate.
"MmX will not only improve our wifi and wireless experience, as we will receive much faster internet connectivity for all IoT devices, but it can also be used in applications, such as virtual reality, autonomous cars, data centres and wireless cellular networks," said Ali Abedi, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cheriton School of Computer Science. "Any sensor you have in your home, which traditionally used wifi and lower frequency can now communicate using high-speed millimetre wave networks.
"Autonomous cars are also going to use a huge number of sensors in them which will be connected through wire; now you can make all of them wireless and more reliable."
The study was authored by Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics researchers Abari and Abedi, and research assistants Mohammed Mazaheri and Soroush Ameli. It was presented at last month’s ACM Sigcomm conference in China.