Korean operators KT and LG U+ have both announced initiatives designed to support what they call the Internet of Small Things (IoST).
According to Korea Times KT will be investing 150 billion won ($128.73 million) in establishing an NB-IoT (narrow band) network using LTE-M to support the IoST in Korea, although it’s still not entirely clear now this differs from regular IoT.
One clue comes in the form of a further investment to provide 100,000 sensor modules to developers in a bid to kick-start the IoST industry. According to the Korea Times piece the technology allows lots of low-volume data to be transmitted with minimum power consumption, so it seems that IoST is another name for the lower-power end of IoT.
“We will provide 100,000 IoST telecom modules for free and offer the service without charge this year,” said KT IoT division SVP Kim June-keun at a Seoul press conference. “We will pour 150 billion won into this sector, which is an aggressive investment. We aim at increasing the number of connected IoST modules to 4 million by 2018 to lead the IoT business.”
KT seems to think the main drivers of the IoST industry will be SMEs, hence the perceived need to kick-start things. The other apparent purpose of the IoST concept is to make a clear distinction between super-efficient IoT networks and high-performance 5G ones. There seems to be an ongoing education strategy to emphasise the fundamental difference between the two.
At the start of this week LG U+ also announced the development of a low-power IoST module in partnership with LG Innotek, according to Business Korea (also the source of the above image).
As with KT, LG U+ is focusing on using LTE rather than distinct, proprietary IoT networks, citing the convenience and efficiency of repurposing some of the existing network rather than starting from scratch. LG U+ reckons its module is half the size of existing LTE modules, enabling its use in things like wearables. Unlike KT, however, it’s not giving them away for free.