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How can telcos capitalize on IoT?

Yehia El Amine

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Currently it’s hard for anyone to read tech news, attend webinars, or surf the Internet without the slightest mention of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the mix. 

Set to become one of the most disruptive technologies since Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn’s invention of the World Wide Web, IoT holds so much promise across all sectors, and innovation streams.

According to numbers by GSMA, the global IoT market will be worth $900 billion in revenue by 2025 – an almost threefold increase on 2019. “However, we expect the revenue opportunity to contract by $200 billion compared to our previous forecast, on account of Covid-19,” the report highlighted. 

Due to the pandemic, companies across the board were forced to reshape their operations, leaning more toward remote access and automation, which places a heavy emphasis on software tools and cloud for the short term, as the need to fully digitize operations remains a long-term objective. 

Thus, according to GSMA, the bulk of IoT revenue is generated by applications, platforms and services that exploit the insights generated by data. Growth in ‘useful’ data and advances in AI and machine learning will continue to increase the applicability and value of data analytics.

“Although connectivity revenue will grow over the period, it will only account for 5 percent of the total IoT revenue opportunity by 2025. Operators have been expanding their capabilities beyond connectivity to capture a larger proportion of the overall market,” the report added. 

At first, IoT was considered to be a sector exclusive to incumbent telecom operators with a strong foothold in the tech, while boasting a strong position within B2B and public sector clients; but as the tech is rapidly hitting the mainstream, the opportunity to dip a toe into it has opened up to any operator, whether they are mobile-only operators or even challengers.

According to Delta Partners, a Dubai-based advisory and investment platform in the telecoms, media and tech space, this opening is due to three main reasons: 

  • LTE, NB-IoT and now 5G are creating a significant opportunity in mobile IoT. 
  • IoT is moving beyond B2B to the consumer side, especially in developed markets.
  • Technology advancements in the larger IoT ecosystem have reduced the investment required to compete in the IoT space to a fraction of what it used to be.

The value for telcos

IoT has been around for a while now, receiving hype from sectors across the aisle; thought of as the saving grace for companies in reducing costs, taking better decisions, and becoming more analytical in terms of the services offered. 

However, it seems as though we’re nearing a critical point in the tech’s opportunities. 

In their report, Delta Partners outlined several ecosystem developments that has shaped IoT opportunities: 

  • NB-IoT technologies are driving down cost of connectivity by 10X opening up the potential of a massive increase in the number of connected devices.
  • 5G will enable new range of mobile opportunities and open-up new high bandwidth/low latency use cases (e.g. industrial robots, autonomous vehicles, remote surgery).
  • Cloud providers are now catering for IoT in a way that will drive adoption and define “standards”.
  • New technologies such as blockchain, AI and mobile edge computing will help overcome some of the key ecosystem challenges currently limiting the IoT potential (security and interoperability being the main one).
  • Similarly, ecosystem players moving towards more collaborative approaches will help overcome fragmentation and create more value to the end-user.

With all that in mind, there are a variety of ways that telcos can monetize these IoT opportunities to become a major player in the sector.

Telecoms can emphasize their integrated IoT services to aid the advancement of connections with other customer-focused applications found on smartphones, tablets, and digital screens to heighten user experience.

This cohesion between software and hardware will motivate customers to deep dive within IoT, experiment with it, and attempt to integrate it within their everyday lives. 

In parallel, the technology allows operators to track and trace information on products and services presented to consumers, thus, allowing them to enhance the quality of their offerings on a B2C scale.

Inherently, IoT can pull large volumes of digitally transferred data, this will prove beneficial to develop more precise predictive analytical models to reach desired outputs for companies to use. 

The telecoms industry has changed in a variety of ways, especially while on its quest to achieve full digitization, the industry’s infrastructure has transformed drastically, and through that, it is pulling at least one aspect of every industry into its ecosystem. 

One of these aspects are smart homes since several players in the telecoms industry are acquiring new ventures in the smart homes sector. 

“A smart home defines a fully automated intelligent system integrated with other technologies to connect various home appliances and the contrary over the top (OTT) networks for better communication and smart functioning,” a report by Soulpage, an India-based data science company said. 

Stepping into this industry was widely due to telecoms’ evolution from broadband to a highly intelligent platform offering multiple technological services and products. 

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. 

Telcos who are seeking to opt into an IoT-based system must adapt and restructure their infrastructure in a way to successfully link IoT integrated blockchain and big data systems in collecting, summarizing, and analyzing the data to fully leverage the power the tech can present. 

With the telecom industry being one of the least sectors to be affected by the pandemic – if anything, their technologies and services were propelled forward – it seems as though they’re on the fast track to reaching new heights on both the B2C and B2B stages. 

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Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

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Telenor unifies its IoT services portfolio

Inside Telecom Staff

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Telenor IoT services

Norwegian telecoms provider Telenor Group announced late last week that it will be unifying its Internet of Things (IoT) services across the Nordic region and internationally, placing them under one large portfolio.

“Effective immediately, Telenor IoT will be offered from all Telenor business channels in the Nordics, and internationally by Telenor Connexion and through selected partners,” the provider said in a statement.

As a part of introducing Telenor IoT, a new operating model is being launched to leverage on Telenor’s global competency, synchronize product development, accelerate the customer facing business and improve technical support.

“In doing so, Telenor is bringing together 200 full time IoT specialists, the largest team for any Nordic IoT service provider,” the telco said. It also highlighted that the company would act as one united global IoT team with a uniform product portfolio and go-to-market strategy – bringing the best capabilities and competence to every customer.

“The new operating model reinforces our competitive edge and makes our product portfolio easier to buy for any customer searching for world class IoT operation and platform capabilities. We are also getting scale benefits on new technology investments,” Commenting on the announcement, Mats Lundquist, CEO of Telenor Connexion and manager of Telenor IoT said in the statement.

The Telenor IoT offering will be supplied by Telenor IoT specialists located in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

“The launch of Telenor IoT and unifying our IoT capabilities and competencies will make us better positioned to accelerate the digital future that will benefit customers, businesses, and society. The steps we are taking now is the culmination of several months of intense collaboration between colleagues in Telenor’s Nordic telco businesses, Telenor Connexion, and Telenor’s Nordic Hub,” Jukka Leinonen, Nordic EVP and Chairman of the Telenor Connexion Board said.

Telenor is considered as a big player within the IoT services space with over 17 million connected devices active in more than 190 countries. In 2019, the provider was positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Managed IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide.

Today, Telenor ranks among the top 10 IoT operators globally, and in the top 3 in Europe by volume, and is the clear market leader in the Nordics.

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E-scooters to benefit from Ericsson-Arkessa partnership

Karim Hussami

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E-scooters Ericsson Arkessa

After using the internet to keep people connected for quite some time, many devices nowadays have the capability to be connected to each other by the internet of things technology (IoT) which can work directly through a smartphone.

From small devices to cars and houses, IoT is the main driver to create a new ecosystem by having objects engineered to seamlessly communicate with each other, and especially with the user, to support all day connectivity across the ecosystem.

According to Ericsson, the number of cellular IoT connections will grow from 1.7 billion in 2020 to 5.9 billion in 2026, while the manufacturing IoT managed services segment is estimated to hold approximately 27.5% of the market share in 2026, according to Persistentmarketresearch.

New partnership for IoT connectivity

As such, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Arkessa reached a deal to provide a secure, managed global connectivity solution that supports the rapid and efficient deployment of Voi e-scooter fleets around the world.

According to Ericsson, that partnership will help increase micro-mobility in cities by having global SIMs supplied by Arkessa, allowing Voi to easily provision, activate scooters and manage its fleet of connected scooters worldwide, regardless of their location.

Arkessa’s global connectivity offers Sweedish Voi the flexibility to deploy its growing fleet of e-scooters in various countries while minimizing costs and optimizing coverage.

One SIM can connect to different service providers without the need for physical replacements, offering significant cost savings in fleet management. Voi gains full global connectivity management benefits powered by Ericsson IoT Accelerator.

These IoT-enabled devices contain sensors that constantly collect and react to data, and this vast level of data can be used to unlock new levels of intelligence.

Fredrik Hjelm, CEO and co-founder of Voi, says, “We are excited to work with Arkessa to provide superior IoT connectivity in our scooters and ensure an even higher level of service for our riders and partner cities. By leveraging Arkessa’s secure and resilient global network connectivity, Voi can continue to deliver fast, reliable e-scooter services as we expand into new markets and roll out our next-generation vehicles and IoT hardware.”

Benefits of IoT scooters

In parallel, these scooters which are activated by the smartphone now ubiquitous in every country in Europe and the United States, giving citizens, tourists and locals an alternative and convenient option to move around the city.

On the other hand, the data is collected from the scooter directly  via integrated sensors which are transmitted via cellular connectivity to the systems of the companies that own them.

Information – which includes the location of each connected  bicycles and scooter, how long each ride takes, which docks need to be restocked, and which ones are full – is always available in real time.

For example, New York’s Citi Bike makes its system data publicly available and invites developers, engineers, and statisticians to use it for analysis, development, and visualization. These measures are taken for the purpose of making better decisions related to transportation and municipal infrastructures.

The idea is that the continuously streamed data collected from connected bikes and scooters will become a crucial components of a fully functional and responsive interconnected grid that can process big data      .

Enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of cellular IoT to deliver new services, derive new revenue streams and improve operational cost-efficiency.

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Tips to increase and maintain IoT smart home security

Karim Hussami

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IoT smart home security

From the thermostat and television to lights, curtains, and security systems, the Internet of things (IoT) turns any home into one connected cell controlled by the single touch of its owner.

Once a home is transformed into a smart one, all connected devices can be controlled remotely through the Internet. However, as with every technology, it is subject to various cybersecurity risks.

According to a report by Statista, the global market revenue in Smart Home technology is forecasted to reach a value of US$77,386 million in 2020, and more than 141 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.

“A global comparison reveals that most revenue is generated in the United States (US$23,328m in 2020),” the report highlighted.

Ways to improve IoT security

Before purchasing any IoT device, users should primarily research the different devices available as well as their related security level to select the safer option in terms of security and privacy.

Thus, to benefit from the efficiency of these smart devices whilst shielding them from attacks, there are several measures that should be taken by the smart homeowners:

 1- Update the software:

According to U.S.-based cybersecurity software developer Norton, software updates related to IoT devices should not be neglected and updated frequently when notified on their smartphones.

In parallel, users should manually follow up for software updates by regularly checking online for update availability and launch dates.

Taking a step backwards, homeowners should ensure the availability of security on IoT devices to begin with, since security isn’t on the manufacturers’ top priority list, as some devices are not designed with a mechanism for updating software, leading to vulnerabilities putting it under potential risk.

2- Use strong passwords:

The second most important security measure for IoT devices after software updates, according to an article published by Forbes Technology Council, is the use of the strongest authentication possible.

In other words, passwords are to be long, complex, and hard to guess.         

“To gain control of a device, the hacker needs certain information from you. Many of these instances come when default passwords or simple phrases are used,” Richard Davis, Katalyst Data Management said.

Davis recommends using a password manager and a second-factor authentication app (rather than mobile phone SMS) to control access. These will deter the drive-by hacker by increasing the amount of work they have to put into hacking you.

3- Set up the router securely:

First off, changing the routers’ default name after purchase to a unique name that cannot be traced to the user’s home address is key to preventing unauthenticated access by cybercriminals.

Likewise, using complex and long passwords, including upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers, and special characters will help secure it even further. In addition, strong encryption protocols are highly recommended to protect Wi-fi access and network security.

The highest level of encryption is currently WPA2, which will be soon succeeded by WPA3.

“Home routers are primary IoT targets for hackers. Thus, a secure router translates to a substantially more secure smart home,” Travis Goodreau, a home Security & Safety Expert at SafeHome, was quoted as saying.

Each IoT device is to have a separate login credential so that if one device is hacked, the others remain unaffected. A password manager tool can be used to store the passwords for all the devices since there can be many passwords, one for each device, and easily forgotten users.

In parallel to that, a separate network is to be set up for IoT devices, granting sole access to the homeowner, to add an extra layer of security, whilst giving access to other networks for family, friends, and visitor use.

4- Install a next generation firewall:

The traditional firewall system may not be sufficient to secure IoT devices from cyberattacks, thus, the introduction of next generation firewall – which is an integrated platform that combines the traditional firewall with other functionalities such as virtual private network (VPN), malware protection and intrusion prevention system (IPS). 

Although next generation firewalls are quite expensive, having the right security measures in place is worth their weight in gold.

The threat of cyberattacks on digital homes is on the rise, and the importance of safeguarding smart home security is increasing as consumers acquire more developed IoT devices, and become even more connected.

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