Twilio Enables IoT Applications via Cellular

City5 G

By: Michael Vizard

Twilio, a cloud platform provider, today extended the reach of its cloud services to include Twilio Programmable Wireless, which enables developers to programmatically invoke a cloud service via an application programming interface (API) to transfer data from Internet of Things (IoT) endpoint from anywhere in the world.

Based on the same communications services that Twilio makes available using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, the goal is to make communication services pervasively available to IoT applications, says Chetan Choudhary, head of the IoT Business at Twilio.

“Developers can write once and deploy globally,” says Choudhary.

Thanks to recent drops in what AWS charges for compute horsepower and the rise of low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs,) Choudhary says it’s now feasible to deliver a cellular-based data transfer service for IoT applications at scale. Those twin capabilities are creating a “perfect storm” of opportunity to deliver IoT communication services via the cloud, says Choudhary.

Twilio is providing developers with the SIM cards that gives them access to global connectivity in more than 120 countries. Developers pay a one-time fee to acquire that SIM card, along with paying a monthly recurring SIM fee in addition to usage-based data charges. Twilio also gives customers the option of a lower data rate if they commit to a minimum spend per month.

Lack of connectivity is the primary reason IoT applications have been slow to move into production because of a lack of readily connectivity services. Twilio is resolving that issue by making available a cloud service that can connect to any IoT device regardless of what processor or software is employed locally, says Choudhary.

That capability will make the difference between there being millions of IoT developers and there being one day billions of those developers, says Choudhary.

Twilio will also make available X.509 authentication certificates to address cybersecurity concerns, adds Choudhary.

Longer term, Choudhary says the capabilities of the Twilio Programmable Wireless will be expanded to include 5G networking services as they continue to mature.

In effect, Twilio has created a flexible network as a service offering for IoT applications. It remains to be seen how traditional carriers will respond to competition enabled by AWS. But as more networking starts to get processed in the cloud, it’s arguably on been only a matter of time before any number of global communications services that are a simple API call away become ubiquitously available.