As exciting as the incoming "Internet of Things" (IoT) is, whether or not its potential is realized is directly tied to a problem specifically facing mobile carriers. Mobile carriers have previously made their investments count by implementing new technologies and then letting the sale of their services and associated devices recoup any losses. However, the required rate of implementation for new connective technologies is not necessarily set by carriers. Advancements in the networking technologies themselves are primarily determined by the requirements of devices that are or will be connecting to those companies' networks. Mobile devices, wearables, cars, highways, medical technologies, and nearly all other "smart" things that are currently under development are going to be heavily dependent on a series of networks that are both dependable, low-latency, and extremely high-speed. The problem facing providers arises from the ever-shortening lifecycle of the carrier network technologies. Despite that those networks are expensive to develop and implement, the current networks cannot keep up with growing demand created by the IoT.
The most recent advancement to go into implementation was, of course, 4G. In South Korea, LG U+ investments alone in 4G cost the carrier over 15 trillion South Korean won (just over $13 billion US dollars) to develop and implement. Similar investments have been made globally and most carriers globally offer 4G. Meanwhile, each of the major US carriers has already promised 5G in the 2017 to 2018 timeframe, though T-Mobile is a notable exception to that. However, while the world is moving to 5G already it is important to give some sense of how short the lifecycle for 4G has been. While nearly all mobile users had some kind of access to the previously implemented 3G, many users across all of the world's carriers still don't have access to 4G. The shortening turn-around time between new iterations of the above-mentioned technologies lies at the heart of the problem.
The IoT is also certainly not helping the problem. Implementation of new features across associated devices, as well as a way to connect all of the "things" to each other, requires a massive amount of data to be moved between an enormous number of people and connected hubs. It is going put an inordinate amount of strain on networks maintained by companies that have traditionally really only serviced connections to mobile devices, with a sprinkling of laptops and tablets thrown in. That said, more and more devices are and will be added all of the time as new ways to utilize the smart connections are found. In order to make the investments needed, mobile carriers will need to forge new relationships and partnerships with the manufacturers and providers whose technological breakthroughs depend on improvements to the networks.