One of the major challenges associated with any Internet of Things (IoT) project is connectivity. There is no shortage of ways to connect an endpoint to the Internet. But various forms of connectivity are a lot more expensive than others.
To make it simpler and less expensive to connect an IoT device using wireless connections, Twilio today at its Signal 2016 conference announced a partnership with T-Mobile under which developers will be able to invoke a REST-based application programming interface (API) to connect a device to a cellular network.
Manav Khurana, vice president of product marketing for Twilio, says Twilio Programmable Wireless, expected to be available in preview in the fourth quarter of this year, makes it possible for IT organizations to acquire a standard SIM card and plug in into their IoT device. The Twilio API will then make it possible to remotely program that device to start sending data over a cellular connection. The alliance with T-Mobile is the first in what Twilio expects will be a series of similar alliances with other carriers.
Obviously, there are multiple ways to connect an IoT device. But in many cases, those devices are deployed in locations that make using other forms of networking impractical. The Twilio approach gives developers a way to connect those devices without having to dispatch someone to connect the device to the Internet. In fact, Khurana says Twilio is betting that the IoT will help drive the number of developers working with its APIs from one million today to eventually more than 10 million.
Pricing for Twilio Programmable Wireless will start at $2 per SIM per month and data usage starts at $0.10 per MB metered across a pool of devices. For high-bandwidth use cases, data usage is $25 for the first GB and $15 for each subsequent GB. Programmable SMS messages and Programmable Voice minutes are priced by usage. The thing to note about the pricing, says Khurana, is that IT organizations can pool multiple devices under a single per-gigabyte-based pricing plan.
It’s not clear just yet who inside most organizations is leading the charge when it comes to the IoT. But the number of these projects is starting to expand exponentially. The challenge will be figuring out the type of network connection each IoT project is going to require.