- Singtel is strengthening its IoT portfolio through a partnership with Microsoft by integrating a range of Azure capabilities into its network.
- Its service coverage is still limited in Singapore, China and Australia (Optus) compared to the global IoT networks offered by competitors.
Singtel announced its partnership with Microsoft in February 2019 to launch an AI-powered IoT network over Microsoft Azure. This is achieved through integration of Singtel’s IoT network into Microsoft Azure cloud capabilities, including IoT Hub, IoT Edge, and other machine learning and cognitive services. Singtel has a comprehensive IoT portfolio with software-defined network capabilities, a range of technologies including LPWAN standards, a private IoT network for added security (‘IoTConnect+’), competitive pricing (as low as SGD1 per month for 10 MB on NB-IoT) and various solutions across industry verticals. The additional capability gained from the partnership with Microsoft complements the carrier’s IoT portfolio. The AI capabilities enable the carrier to deliver more efficient services, especially in the orchestration and automation of applications and workloads across IoT stacks (e.g., devices, network and clouds), thus accelerating enterprises’ business outcomes and the ROI. The cloud services offer scalable deployments, addressing the high upfront investments required by enterprises to implement IoT use cases. It also enables Singtel to retain its IoT leadership in Singapore and address the increasing demand in the key Asian hub. GlobalData research shows that 62% of 1,664 global enterprises interviewed (including 65% of 57 in Singapore) are making major or large investments in IoT in the next three years. The access to Microsoft’s vast range of development tools, developers and other packaged solutions enables the carrier to further strengthen its own IoT platform capabilities, while IoT Hub offers an additional platform option to its customers in addressing diverse market demands.
However, while Singtel positions itself as Asia’s leading one-stop ICT experience provider, its IoT services are still limited to only a number of countries. Apart from Singapore, the carrier plays in Australia market through Optus (the service currently is only available in limited locations in Melbourne and Sydney) and has a partnership with China Mobile to tap into the carrier’s footprint. The demand for cross-border IoT is growing. GlobalData research shows that the cross-border deployments are growing from 28% to 32% (against domestic deployments). While global carriers such as AT&T and VGE have been offering global IoT solutions for a long time, Asian-based carriers are aggressively strengthening their global IoT portfolio and expanding their service coverage. NTT Communications recently completed its acquisition of Transatel, which has roaming partnerships with over 100 MNOs; Telstra announced its global IoT partnership with Ericsson at MWC this year; and Tata Communications acquired Teleena for worldwide cellular and LPWAN access. It is important for Singtel to close the gap in its IoT service coverage with competitors to grab the growing market opportunity. Singtel can leverage its footprints in the emerging Asian market through its subsidiaries and associates (e.g., AIS Thailand, Bharti Airtel India, Globe Telecom Philippines and Telkomsel Indonesia). However, multiple agreements with MNOs often result in high complexity in managing connectivity cost and capabilities across different networks. There are also other approaches to expanding global IoT coverage as practiced by most other providers, such as partnership with an MVNE or using network vendors’ platforms such as Ericsson IoT Accelerator or Nokia WING.