One of the sessions I attended at Teladata’s Technology Convergence Conference (TCC) was about wireless technology trends. Sponsored by W. Bradley Electric, Inc. (WBE) and presented by Paul Billings with no commercial statements, it was very informative about how current wireless technologies are applied to buildings. I summarize this session below.
Connected Devices, People, and Locations Statistics
Initially, Billings showed a graph (based on Ericsson) to indicate how much the connections among people, locations, and devices will grow over many years.
According to the graph, around 2020 or 2025 50 billion devices will be wireless things. I think not all the devices will be connected wirelessly, so this graph implies that the total number of connected devices (both wired and wireless) will be more than the 50 billion that was estimated by Cisco.
By then, more than 7 billion people will be connected and 0.5 billon places will be connected. By the way, in 2020 it is estimated that the world population will be 7.7 billion. I am not sure how to interpret this in conjunction with the connected people, though.
Network Traffic Statistics
Billings then showed how wired and wireless data traffic changed between 2010 and 2015.
According to the graph, fixed/wired’s traffic increase is 24% CAGR, fixed/Wi-Fi is 39%, and mobile data is 92%. Clearly mobile data is increasing rapidly and expected to grow even more in coming years.
Wireless Technology for Buildings
Billings said that less than 5% of commercial real estate has complete in-building wireless coverage. Therefore, it is expected that more wireless coverage will be placed, and there are a lot of business opportunities along that line.
There are several technologies used for buildings:
- IEEE 802.11 WLAN (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz). This is very familiar to consumers as wireless LAN. The 2.4 GHz is more prevalent and reaches farther than the 5.0 GHz. But the 5.0 GHz has more nonoverlapping channels available and tends to provide more bandwidth. There are a variety of 802.11, a, b, g, n and ac (ratified by IEEE at the end of 2013). Ac is an evolution of n and the difference between the two are explained here in a not-too-techie manner. It is roughly three times faster than n.
- DECT 6.0 (1.9 GHz). This is a technology for wireless telephones that is also familiar to consumers.
- UHF (between 300 MHz and 3 GHz). This is for professional wireless microphone systems and white-spaced building campus video distribution environments.
- ZigBee (915 MHz and 2.4 GHz). This is for IoT and building automation systems.
- FCC 15.231 (spread over about 170 MHz of various spectrum space). This is for IoT, building automation systems, garage door openers, security and car FOBs, security sensors.
By the way, the radio frequency spectrum map is pretty complex and finding nonoverlapping frequencies is not an easy task.
How Wireless Technologies Can Be Used for Buildings
With wireless building management, we could manage building energy more efficiently. According to Billings (and based on EIA data), the annual building energy consumption breaks down as follows: lighting (38%), HVAC (29%), refrigeration (12%), office equipment (7%), and others (14%). By improving lighting use, we can curb energy consumption. This can be accomplished by motion sensors, wireless switches, and other devices. That is, lights are on when someone is in a room and turn off when not.
By the way, in the case of data centers, HVAC and computer servers consume the most power, and lighting is not a big factor because, unlike humans, equipment does not need lighting. Wireless sensors at data centers are used to control air temperature and other environmental parameters to minimize required energy like power.
Wireless technologies and their products would improve building management, considering:
- Availability of wireless technologies with range of RF spectrum spaces
- Green solutions
- Material savings
- Minimized costs
The use of wireless devices in buildings is an ideal use of wireless technologies.
Billings presented a statistic on BYOD penetration into enterprises. The latest data he had was for 2012. In July 2012, 83% of companies permitted the use of BYOD by their employees. This raises challenges for enterprises, such as the adoption of security standards, how to design Wi-Fi/DAS (distributed antenna system) networks, resolving limited cell phone coverage, and network prioritization and monitoring.
He also presented some details about how to design wireless networks by surveying buildings and considering necessary parameters, but I omit them here.
Those technologies mentioned here can be applicable to data centers as well, with a twist to consider their special requirements.
Because this was a sponsored session, I was expecting some commercial statements. But I did not hear anything to promote Billings’ company. Instead, this was a very informative session on the current status of wireless technologies as they are applied to commercial buildings.
A data center is a special version of a commercial building, and with the advent of IoT more sensors would be installed. Managing such wireless networks without their interfering with one another would pose a new challenge. Therefore, it is always good to know the current status of each wireless technology.