IoT Challenges for Mobile Network Operators and IoT Service Providers

IoT, or Internet of Things, is the concept of connecting devices to the internet. This can take the shape of any device, such as watches, refrigerators, headphones, vehicles, and even tennis shoes. By nature, these connected devices generate data about user activities and events, thus allowing strategic data to be mined by IoT service providers (those creating the connected devices). In turn, this enables service providers to improve user experience and customer satisfaction. According to the June 2017 Ericsson Mobility Report¹, a good portion of the connectivity for these connected devices can be via wide-range radio or cellular.

 

 

 


Challenges related to world of IoT

For Mobile Network Operators (MNOS), or the networks providing internet connectivity for connected devices, IoT connectivity, either locally or via roaming, presents many challenges:

  1. 1.  Providing coverage assurance: while some devices only communicate sporadically, others send data and can make calls constantly, making it difficult to anticipate, and therefore assure, necessary coverage
  2. 2.  Competition for the same customer (the IoT Service Provider)
  3. 3.  Roaming bill shock when sending traffic to roaming partners
  4. 4.  Inability to guarantee connectivity and user experience of traffic from a partner network

For IoT Service Providers the challenges are around:

  1. 1.  The logistics behind shipping, testing and activating millions of SIMs around the world
  2. 2.  Negotiations with mobile operators across the world for IoT rates and coverage, which is typically not the core competence of IoT Service Providers
  3. 3.  Paying many times for big buckets of data use vs. actual use
  4. 4.  Ability to control which MNO the IoT Service Provider uses when given a choice of many MNO’s
  5. 5.  Data that is generated by a connected device can be routed across very long distances before it is consumed for use. This can result in poor user experience

The embedded SIM (eSIM) stands to improve these scenarios and make the objective of more reliable connectivity a possibility. By allowing a single device to switch to multiple local SIM profiles, based on location of use, allows for the reduction in roaming costs.

What is an eSIM?

While historically connected devices have required either a wireless signal or a SIM card to stay connected, the development of the eSIM card has the potential to improve the capabilities of these connected devices. While a normal SIM is restricted to one network profile, thus complicating the ability of a device to stay connected once the user has moved from their home network, the eSIM allows for several network profiles. Any device using an eSIM card has the ability to switch as many domestic network profiles as possible, allowing the user to use a local signal with any of these embedded profiles. With multiple network profiles to choose from, roaming rates may no longer apply while traveling.

It also removes the necessity of switching out SIM cards within the device, as the eSIM essentially makes the switch for you. User experience and customer satisfaction is vastly improved via the direct processing of the data close to the user, therefore resulting in an overall user experience that is lower in roaming costs, greater in coverage, and improved in ease of use.

Next week, we’ll discuss how eSIM can actually solve the challenges we have mentioned above.

1 Heuveldop, Niklas. “Ericsson Mobility Report.” Edited by Patrik Cerwall, p. 16., www.ericsson.com/assets/local/mobility-report/documents/2017/ericsson-mobility-report-june-2017.pdf.

2 “Roaming IoT Platforms: An Evaluator’s Guide to Connecting Global IoT Devices.” p. 16., uros.com/research/roaming-iot-platforms-white-paper.html.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Key Concerns in Roaming For MNOs

The first observations in Latin America

The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a far-reaching concept. It is revolutionary in several areas for roaming services and is changing the landscape with new requirements and needs from MNOs. iBasis recently had the opportunity to present at WASL WG, a GSMA organized event for LATAM MNOs in Panama City on in April 26th, 2017. The topic: our strategy to provide worldwide reach for IoT devices and help MNOs to grow their revenues with new businesses at a global level. Here are some observations and experiences shared by the MNO participants.

 MNO Challenges and Opportunities with IoT
After presenting the iBasis strategy on how we work together with and support MNOs, we were able to validate and conclude that this topic is still very new. IoT can generate a new revenue stream that not only affects roaming departments, but also other local M2M groups within the MNO. If we focus on the roaming groups’ concerns as of today, we notice that the main concern is about how they should adapt the roaming rates based on the new behavior of devices or “things” with SIMs when they are roaming. Since most of the time these devices consume low BW and generate high volume of signaling, the current roaming agreements are not adjusted to this reality. An additional concern is the fact that some international devices become permanent roaming elements due to the international deployment of a device that is not going to move once it is deployed on-site. This creates issues when permanent roaming is not allowed.

In both cases, the major challenge of the MNOs is to identify these “things” or devices in their networks, become aware of their behaviors, prevent extra costs in their network services, and generate sufficient revenues to maintain productivity in this new reality. In order to help MNOs do this, we need to provide the tools that will faciliate their adaptation to this changing technological environment.

New IoT Business Opportunities for MNOs are in Early Stages
Another topic that is important to MNOs is understanding the new businesses associated with the “Internet of Things”. Previously we were trying to identify how they could adapt their current services to fit this new environment. It is just as important however to create new business practices and services to engage. After discussing this with several MNOs, we concluded that the understanding of the their potential revenues and their role in the global environment is still in an early stage. A couple of facts make these changes problematic for MNOs.

First, MNOs tend to focus only on the local or domestic environment where they have permission to operate. Second, the devices or “things” are no longer equivalent to individual subscribers as they previously were. Third, devices can be manufactured in one country and deployed in others. Lastly, there is much variability in the likelihood for those devices to travel or not travel. The combination of these things means that MNOs are facing a unique challenge that will require help from other players in the industry to ensure their continued growth and that they take advantage of the global nature of this new system with more transnational relationships.

iBasis’ Role in IoT
iBasis’ new role in the Internet of Things addresses the challenges MNOs are facing and at the same time help IoTSPs to take advantage of all the benefits available from the variety of MNOs around the world. iBasis IoT network services reduce IoTSP and MNO costs as well as increase the revenue for all the players involved. This will help the “Internet of Things” grow faster and expand its global reach.

Complete the form below to request a copy of the recent WAS Panama presentation on “The Rise of Internet of Things” by Vanesa Matamoros.

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Interested to learn more about what iBasis can do for you? Please reach out to Vanesa Matamoros at vmatamoros@ibasis.net or Rich Pellegrini at rpellegrini@ibasis.net.