By Chris Donkin

Realism sets in as IoT sector matures

Companies starting to introduce mobile IoT services are entering the market at an ideal time, as network rollouts have reached a critical mass and the ecosystem is more mature and realistic.

These were the key messages expressed during a panel discussion at the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Summit yesterday.

Owen Moore (pictured left), CEO and co-founder of BeWhere, said the good news is it’s not too late to enter, as “a lot of the growing pains you have to go through to launch a network and cooperate with MNOs are now resolved”.

Ankur Bhan (pictured second from right), global head of Nokia’s Worldwide IoT Network Grid, noted the sector has scaled back some of its ambitious initial projections and is more realistic about the uptake of IoT services.

He added there is lot of fragmentation, with many markets like China and US quite advanced, whereas others are just getting started.

Moore said his company needed to be agile when working with operators: “You have to understand each operator’s strategy and the way they work.”

Marie Hogan (pictured second from left), head of Broadband and IoT Business Area Networks at Ericsson, agreed, noting there are different levels of understanding of what IoT can do among operators.

“We’re trying to make it easier by providing education,” she said, noting Ericsson has found it best to illustrate how a specific use case works using proof-of-concept trials.

Felix Wunderer (pictured right), VP of IoT products and services at T-Systems International, said its biggest challenges is to build up its vertical industry knowledge.

“We have to get better at this to allow us to come up with innovation business models so clients can get their investment back.”

Scaling up

Wunderer said it takes time to get the ecosystem in place to make IoT services affordable to a wider audience.

To drive growth, Hogan added that it’s important to stay focused on global specifications and standards which will improve the economies of scale, with global traction expanding rapidly, and push down chipset prices.

With 5G networks on the way, she said the industry needs to make sure use cases are able to co-exist using 5G spectrum to make them future-proof.

Hogan doesn’t see a full shift of IoT applications to 5G networks anytime soon, expecting co-existence with LTE for at least another 10 years.

BeWhere’s Moore noted that the changes to the price point shouldn’t be understated, with services available for as low as $0.50 a month.

He pointed to an environmental benefit of the wider deployment of low-power NB-IoT networks: fewer batteries will go to landfill.