Cable Companies and Smaller Mobile Operators Progress on the IoT Services Front

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Comcast, Cox Communications, and UScellular all launched IoT businesses in the 2016-2018 time period.
  • While the big mobile operators get most of the deals, these ‘alternative’ providers continued to improve their portfolios and gained new IoT customers in 2020.

2020 was a mixed bag for IoT services as COVID-19 tamped down some opportunities while spawning others, especially in the areas of healthcare, building management, and remote operations. While new services were launched by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, there are other service providers in the mix. MVNOs such as Sierra Wireless and KORE offer increasingly industry-specific IoT connectivity and platforms, using aggregated cellular connectivity from top mobile operators. In addition, several cable companies and consumer-oriented cellular providers also launched IoT services or full-fledged business units in 2016-2018 to further monetize their networks and offer added value to their business customer bases. In 2020, they added platform capabilities, launched services for new verticals with wide-ranging solution partners, and gained a sprinkling of new customers. Continue reading “Cable Companies and Smaller Mobile Operators Progress on the IoT Services Front”

Enterprise Mobility Services Portfolios Advanced Significantly in 2020

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • In 2020, mobile operators updated enterprise mobility portfolios with new or enhanced private network services, RCS-based business messaging, first responder capabilities, and vendor-agnostic approaches to UEM and global managed mobility.
  • While 2020 5G rollouts were also a key focus, their value to the enterprise will play out more visibly in 2021.

GlobalData has completed its annual report on the global enterprise mobility offerings of leading mobile operators, including profiles of AT&T, BT, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, Orange Business Services, Verizon, and Vodafone as well as analysis of key industry trends. For the full report, click here.

Enterprise mobility services are sometimes viewed as a commoditizing market, with services such as unified endpoint management (UEM) and device lifecycle management delivered by most operators with similar capabilities. However, it remains an important portfolio for drawing and maintaining SMBs, large domestic customers, and MNCs that leverage mobile devices for their employees, not only as a communication tool but also as a convenient handheld computing device, with access to files and applications that they need to do their jobs well. The market remains competitive, and in 2020, mobile operators continued to launch new services and enhance capabilities of their core portfolio elements. While 5G rollouts to consumers and enterprises will also prove important to future B2B use cases, it may take another couple of years before 5G fundamentally changes these portfolio offerings. In 2020, the majority of operator announcements were in the categories of: private wireless networks, platform updates for UEM and device lifecycle management, or advanced vendor and carrier-agnostic support options for MNCs. Continue reading “Enterprise Mobility Services Portfolios Advanced Significantly in 2020”

Mid-Band Spectrum Auctions Impact the 5G Landscape

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Mid-band spectrum has been in high demand by mobile and wireline operators both to support 5G rollouts and to underpin private networks for industrial customers.
  • As recipients of CBRS spectrum are leveraging the technology for real-world deployments now, while the C-Band auction was recently completed on January 18, vendor activity and customer deployments will rapidly advance in 2021.

U.S. operators have been investing in and building out infrastructure for their 5G cellular networks for several years. They have already launched 5G services for both consumer use cases such as fixed wireless access (for broadband internet) and smartphone-based immersive gaming as well as for enterprise use cases such as high-volume or real-time IoT, AR/VR, and industrial private networks. They have primarily leveraged licensed spectrum bands in the high-band (e.g., mmWave bands from 24.25 to 29.5 GHz) and low-band (generally below 1 GHz) ranges. But operators are now vying to gain highly coveted spectrum in the mid-band, as it offers the best of both worlds, supporting high speeds and low latency, as well as the ability to cost-effectively spread networks out beyond dense urban settings. In the U.S., T-Mobile gained Sprint’s legacy 2.5GHz assets during the merger, and it is making the most of its ‘layer-cake’ approach to 5G which spans all three types of spectrum, but even the Un-carrier is bidding to get more mid-band spectrum to improve on this key differentiator. Continue reading “Mid-Band Spectrum Auctions Impact the 5G Landscape”

What’s New in the Global IIoT Services Market?

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • IoT services portfolios from mobile operators are expanding as enablers such as edge computing, 5G, and even COVID-19 related requirements for detection and amelioration provide momentum for new deployments and use cases.
  • GlobalData highlights below a number of recent announcements from leading operators regarding their edge alliances, application enablement and analytics enhancements, and vertical solutions.

Over the past six months, all Tier 1 mobile operators have added new capabilities or alliances, especially in the areas of multi-access edge computing, application enablement and analytics, and vertical solutions. The list below highlights some of the most relevant recent announcements impacting the IoT services portfolios of AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange Business Services, Tata, Telstra, Telefonica, Verizon, and Vodafone. For detailed analysis of these operators’ portfolios, see the latest “Global Industrial IoT Services: Competitive Landscape Assessment.” Continue reading “What’s New in the Global IIoT Services Market?”

GlobalData’s Enterprise IoT Connection Forecasts Show Moderate Growth, But Connections are Only Part of the Story

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• GlobalData’s new IoT forecast for the number of connections associated with Enterprise IoT deployments predicts that by the end of 2020 we will see 5.5 billion connections, which will rise to 11.3 billion by 2024, for a CAGR of 15%.

• These numbers are only moderately good news for mobile operators which will see their cellular connections grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of only 12% over five years, while their licensed spectrum low power wide area networks (LPWANs; including NB-IoT and LTE-M) will grow more significantly by 19% and 51% respectively.

According to new forecasts from GlobalData, the global number of Enterprise-related Internet of Things connections will reach 11.2 billion by 2024, dominated by short-range and cellular connections, but with strong growth (starting from a much smaller base) for LPWANs. The CAGR for the six-year period for all IoT connectivity types is moderate, at 15%. The 2020 forecast was tamped down slightly to account for the effect of COVID-19 on technology spending; however, from 2021 onwards, growth is expected to continue at a higher rate. In addition, many operators note that new offerings that help with COVID-19 detection and mitigation, such as room/building occupancy monitoring and management, and remote thermal temperature scanning, have actually had a positive effect on new deployments. Continue reading “GlobalData’s Enterprise IoT Connection Forecasts Show Moderate Growth, But Connections are Only Part of the Story”

IoT Services in a Post-COVID-19 World: An Update

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

• Operators and other suppliers may have difficulty this year selling IoT deals to new customers or expanding existing projects. IoT deals are often complex, and economic realities due to the COVID-19 pandemic may make it difficult for businesses to justify the expense, especially if they are in hard-hit verticals such as retail or hospitality.

• However, many operators note that they are doing well this year closing IoT deals. They have also launched services that help detect and prevent COVID-19. Which of these may last in a post-pandemic world?

Has COVID-19 Been Bad for the IoT Market?

IoT services budgets (and analyst market forecasts) have been tamped down in 2020 due to the premise that operators and other suppliers may have difficulty this year selling IoT deals to new customers or expanding existing projects. IoT deals are often complex, and economic realities due to the COVID-19 pandemic may make it difficult for businesses to justify the expense, making the job of selling these solutions harder as well. Certainly in some segments especially hard hit by the pandemic such as retail, sports stadiums, hospitality, transportation, ports, airports, and energy, it may be difficult for companies to imagine trialing and paying for a new potentially complex technology solution. IoT deployments may require hardware, software, connectivity services, edge computing, security solutions, and use of management platforms, often bought from multiple members of a fragmented supplier ecosystem. It was hard enough to justify all of these investments before the pandemic. Yet the hype surrounding 5G and its ability to support massive numbers of IoT connections, ultra low latency and high bandwidth has made it seem that 2021 will be a banner year for IoT. However, it seems more likely that 2021 will be focused on tactical solutions, rather than wholesale IoT-led transformation. In addition, the benefits of 5G and edge computing may not be reaped for several more years. Continue reading “IoT Services in a Post-COVID-19 World: An Update”

Vodafone Americas Offers Unique Proposition for MNCs, Including U.S. Companies

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Vodafone Americas is seeing traction with U.S. companies with global voice and data connectivity requirements as well as global companies that need to communicate in the U.S.
  • Ironically, the mobile-first operator is seeing opportunities to offer these MNCs value-added services such as IoT, UC, and cloud, without having or needing its own mobile footprint in the U.S.

Vodafone Americas offers MNCs in the U.S., Canada, and South America a unique value proposition that allows the operator to draw customers, even among large, well-known U.S.-headquartered enterprises, and service them globally.  In the U.S., it operates out of offices in New York, Denver, and San Francisco.  It also has an IoT Innovation Lab in San Francisco.  For global companies that require U.S. coverage as part of their footprint, Vodafone has established a series of roaming capabilities.  While it is not necessarily the lowest-cost provider of these connections, its extensive non-U.S. mobile footprint provides MNCs with the ability to contract with a single provider, which may bring not only deeper discounts but also the convenience factor of having a single company from which to buy connectivity, with visibility and support via consistent platforms.  Vodafone Americas is successfully offering many of these approximately 500 companies IoT solutions as well as other strategic services such as cloud, cybersecurity, and unified communications, which also do not depend on the operator having its own U.S. footprint for mobile access.  The operator also has some U.S. wireline assets, including 24 PoPs in ‘NFL cities,’ but remains reliant on operator partners for last-mile access. Continue reading “Vodafone Americas Offers Unique Proposition for MNCs, Including U.S. Companies”

So We Thought the CBRS Auction Was Big; Here Comes C-Band

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • The C-band consists of 500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz. The FCC will be auctioning off this spectrum beginning in December 2020.
  • This auction is especially important as mobile operators in the U.S. need mid-band spectrum to flesh out their 5G networks and consolidate their positioning to both consumers and enterprises.

The C-band consists of 500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz. The FCC will be auctioning off this spectrum beginning in December 2020. Investment firms are betting that this auction will generate $25 to $35 billion, a significantly larger amount than the $4.6 billion that the CBRS auction brought in this past August.

Why Is This Important?

Mobile operators in the U.S. need mid-band spectrum to flesh out their 5G networks. The 5G networks of AT&T and Verizon are dominated by two spectrum types: millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, which has been rolled out in dense urban locations but does not propagate cost-effectively to rural areas; and low-band spectrum, which has been rolled out much more broadly throughout the country but has not achieved the kinds of speed and latency enhancements required to excite enterprises and developers looking to power new innovative use cases. T-Mobile inherited 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum holdings from Sprint as part of the merger and has been using it to offer what the operator calls its ‘layer cake’ approach of low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum, designed to meet the needs of different target segments and use cases. Continue reading “So We Thought the CBRS Auction Was Big; Here Comes C-Band”

Some Wild Weeks for Mobility

Summary Bullets:

• There are some weeks, arguably some quarters, where few substantive announcements are made about mobility solutions, including enterprise mobility services (as opposed to 5G rollouts) and IoT. In the last two weeks, announcements from Ericsson, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon show a robust and dynamic industry.

• These launches were diverse: Verizon’s continuing MEC rollout and new reference customers, AT&T’s 5G win with the Air Force, AT&T’s Microsoft Azure Sphere-powered IoT connectivity offering, Ericsson’s acquisition of Cradlepoint, and T-Mobile’s new Magenta for Business price plans all show that opportunities in mobility and IoT are alive and well.

Enterprise mobility has often seemed like a sedate market, because smartphones and tablets are so baked in to the communications arsenals of enterprises; new, innovative offerings from the ecosystem are few and far between as every flavor of managed mobility seems to already be available. Even IoT, which is still considered a huge growth opportunity, has suffered from being put in the “enabler” category, with providers worrying about flat revenues and being reticent to introduce new capabilities as they wait for 5G to bring it back into the light via “massive” connectivity requirements. Continue reading “Some Wild Weeks for Mobility”

Who’s Winning the Wireless Private Network Race?

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • There has been a small but meaningful trickle of news on private wireless (cellular) network deployments over the last couple of years from a cast of characters ranging from CSPs to equipment vendors, SIs, and enterprises themselves. The latest CBRS auction has also uncovered likely new entrants, including companies that lack their own cellular networks or want to own and manage their own deployments.
  • Interest in providing private wireless networks is not new; after all, this is essentially what WiFi has been providing all along. But using 4G LTE and 5G (over licensed, unlicensed, or ‘lightly regulated’ spectrum) for these networks is creating excitement from a wide swath of the telecom market. Will companies buy it?

GlobalData has been tracking the private wireless network market for several years because it is potentially a major disruptive technology. It promises to partially displace WiFi and wireline connectivity – at least for those use cases that need more consistent signal strength, security, higher speeds, and lower latency, with support for in-building, campus, and hybrid environments such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses, sports stadiums, mines, oil and gas fields, ports, airports, and other transportation hubs. Continue reading “Who’s Winning the Wireless Private Network Race?”