Vodafone Americas IoT Update: 2021 Starting Strong

Summary Bullets:

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

• Vodafone Business is a leader in global IoT services with a dedicated IoT BU, 120 million connected devices, and clear goals for expansion of its role in managed connectivity, mobile private networks, and end to end solutions.

• In the Americas, the operator is attracting a diverse set of multinational companies, often headquartered in the U.S., that not only require both local and global connectivity, but are looking to deploy IoT for use cases ranging from COVID-19/post-pandemic solutions to connected car, manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare.

While Vodafone Business is a known leader in IoT services in Europe and APAC, its regional group serving the Americas has a somewhat different remit. It looks to serve U.S. companies with global connectivity and IoT solutions requirements, or global companies with U.S. facilities that require IoT services and solutions. These are generally large companies with diverse connectivity needs that increasingly include IoT. Vodafone Americas IoT customers are using the technology for three main “buckets” of use cases in 2021: COVID-19-specific requirements such as thermal cameras, social distancing, and vaccine tracking; post pandemic healthcare applications such as home health monitoring; and deployments of other more traditional IoT use cases that may have stalled in 2020, such as connected car, manufacturing, and logistics.

Vodafone sells these solutions directly to large companies but also sells through/with MVNOs such as KORE and Orbcomm which may add on their own solutions, platforms and vertical expertise to reach Tier 2 customers. As Vodafone does not have its own mobile network in the U.S., Vodafone provides extensive coverage of the U.S. through a variety of commercial arrangements with U.S. MNOs. Because of its distinct target market, and its lack of mobile assets in the U.S. Vodafone Americas does not directly compete with the big three mobile operators for enterprise mobility or IoT deals.

Vodafone Americas is in sync with the Vodafone Business group in its aim to deliver end-to-end solutions including tracking and fleet management. It also plans to expand geographically throughout the region, expand its technical stack, and enlarge its options for commercial models. For example, connected cars include not only WiFi hotspots for infotainment, but also data analytics that track usage, and mobile device management as part of a set of advanced SIM solutions.

While many of its customers are under NDA, Vodafone Americas cites several interesting customer case studies including Ford and Centrica, companies that are deploying mobile private networks in the UK for auto manufacturing and real-time gas plant monitoring respectively; Hello Tractor, a company that has developed an Uber-like tractor sharing and monitoring solution; a solution for pump monitoring (in conjunction with Vodafone subsidiary iot.next); a healthcare company which is using a tablet-based solution for sales reps and doctors to demo products; a digital signage company which is using a device for over the air management of digital displays; and a company which uses connectivity, tracking and monitoring for its automated external defibrillators. The customers include both U.S. and non-U.S. companies that may be using connectivity and value-added services (device management, SIM management, and end-to-end vertical solutions) from Vodafone Americas.

While 2020 began as a tough year for IoT as the pandemic heated up, IoT deployments are having a good year so far in 2021 as the technology has proved invaluable for remote monitoring and medical tracking during the heart of the pandemic. Vodafone Americas is seeing a resurgence in IoT adoption and usage, as companies are playing catch-up for the IoT deployments they had been thinking about or even proof of concept testing last year. Executives also note that in many ways the U.S. market is particularly well-suited to accommodate changes and adopt new technologies that provide operational efficiencies or new revenue opportunities.

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