Masterclassing

Twilio Programmable Wireless aims to speed up IoT deployments

David Murphy

Cloud communications platform Twilio has announced the general availability of Twilio Programmable Wireless, a cellular communications platform that uses simple APIs to power a wide range of internet-connected solutions. By making cellular connectivity programmable, Twilio said it will empower developers to focus their time and energy on building innovative connected solutions while Twilio handles the complexity of dealing with carrier business models.

“Despite the hype surrounding the internet of things (IoT) over the last several years, IoT has been largely out of reach to developers because there has not been a developer-friendly connectivity provider,” said Chetan Chaudhary, general manager of IoT at Twilio. “Twilio Programmable Wireless makes connectivity accessible to millions of developers via Twilio’s platform, empowering them to begin experimenting with IoT. We can’t wait to see what they build.”

The internet of things is expected to enable billions of new devices to be connected to the internet. However, businesses and developers who are building these internet-connected devices have been challenged to find a connectivity provider that meets their needs.


In Twilio’s words: “existing connectivity providers have antiquated ordering, billing and reporting, non-existent documentation and often require developers to wait weeks to get started, deterring developers and slowing adoption. With today’s announcement of Twilio Programmable Wireless, developers now benefit from a platform that is self-service, pay-as-you-go, has extensive documentation and enables them to begin building IoT solutions immediately.”

Connecting a device to the internet requires a subscriber identification module (SIM) that is standard in every mobile phone today. With Twilio Programmable Wireless, Twilio provides developers with SIM cards that give them access to global connectivity in more than 120 countries and a developer-friendly, API-first platform that enables them to begin building IoT solutions.

Twilio’s API-first approach allows developers to program cellular connectivity into their devices in the same way Twilio has enabled developers to programmatically embed communications into their applications. The Wireless platform makes it easy for IoT developers to configure SIM cards and manage connectivity, and is built on Twilio’s platform that the company says delivers the highest levels of quality and resiliency, including a 99.95 per cent uptime service level agreement.

Twilio said the Programmable Wireless platform will enable developers to get to market faster with straightforward pay-as-you-go pricing in more than 120 countries, free support, and the freedom to scale up or down with no upfront costs or contracts. They can see where and when SIMs are connected and monitor data consumption in real time with individual SIM reporting.

Data costs can be minimised by leveraging Twilio’s Commands API to send and receive machine to machine (M2M) Commands using the SMS transport protocol. Finally, developers can use the same experience for IoT connectivity that they already use to power voice, SMS, video, chat and two factor authentication in their applications.

Cellular IoT connectivity enables developers to build applications that require a persistent, always on connection and integrate systems for a whole suite of use cases. In private beta, Twilio customers have built disruptive services in healthcare, transportation and hospitality using Twilio Programmable Wireless. One early user is iBeat, a lifesaving watch designed for people susceptible to cardiac incidents. iBeat connects to the internet using Twilio’s SIMs, which enables the device to alert paramedics, loved ones, and iBeat’s network of 1m trained CPR volunteers in the event of an emergency.

“The survival rate for an individual experiencing a cardiac arrest increases from 10 per cent to 40 per cent if there is a witness present,” said iBeat CTO, Chris Bumgardner. “The iBeat watch is that witness. Twilio Programmable Wireless plays a critical role in helping us achieve our mission by enabling our watch to securely communicate life-saving information to emergency responders in real time.”

Starting today, any Twilio developer can order a SIM and begin working on a connected device project immediately. Twilio Programmable Wireless is available now via the console on Twilio.com. After purchasing the SIM for a one-time fee, customers pay a monthly recurring SIM fee in addition to usage-based data charges. Twilio also gives customers the option of a lower data rate after committing to a minimum data spend per month.