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?”

Enterprise IoT Platforms Continue to Advance

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData completed its latest examination of the enterprise IoT platform market on August 26, which described, analyzed, and rated the top platforms in the market. This report focused on AWS, IBM, SAP, PTC, Microsoft, and Google.
  • These vendors added functionality over the last six months that included enhanced security, more automated processes for data ingestion, new analytics capabilities, integration with the vendor’s own or third-party software, vertical solutions, scalability and availability, and improved edge enablement.

IoT is a key growth market for a wide swath of technology solution providers and their business customers. As a result, the market for platforms that make IoT projects easier to deploy and manage, and more impactful to the companies deploying them, has grown significantly in size and scope over the past five years. There are hundreds of purported platforms on the market, but only a dozen or so stand out in the enterprise segment. These IoT platforms leverage data collected from devices and transform the data into meaningful, actionable information through filtering, visualization, and analytics. They also aid customers in building applications which use the data to help them automate processes and make decisions that transform their products, services, and business models, therefore enhancing their position in the market. Continue reading “Enterprise IoT Platforms Continue to Advance”

T-Mobile Opens Up (a Bit) About Its B2B Plans

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • T-Mobile held an analyst briefing on August 14 to discuss its plans for T-Mobile for Business, which included its aims to engage SMBs, the public sector, large enterprises, and MNCs with a newly merged T-Mobile-former Sprint organization and a newly minted set of wireline and wireless network assets.
  • The meeting introduced the new B2B team, which draws from both companies, but the call focused more on the breadth and performance of the new T-Mobile’s 5G network and on ‘Un-carrier’’ benefits of transparency, lack of complexity, and cost avoidance than it did on actual enterprise offerings, leaving us hoping for more insights in the future.

It is understandable that T-Mobile is proud of its new network, which provides 14x more capacity than each operator had prior to the merger, as well as complementary network assets with which it is hoping to realize $43 billion in synergies. T-Mobile now has a 5G network that covers 250+ million people, and once its integration with Sprint’s 2.5GHz assets is complete, it can also compete well on other factors such as speed and latency. It also finally has a wireline network – to be run by former Sprint executive Mike Fitz – so, in theory, it will be able to offer more of a converged network portfolio to companies that want end-to-end network capabilities. T-Mobile loves to compare its new network to that of its rivals, noting that it has twice the spectrum of AT&T and three times the spectrum of Verizon. It points out that Verizon’s 5G footprint is still only in 35 cities, where it is using expensive mmWave spectrum, which does not provide expanded coverage benefits and which will require Verizon to use technologies such as DSS to enable it to share 4G and 5G spectrum to broaden its reach. Continue reading “T-Mobile Opens Up (a Bit) About Its B2B Plans”

The Latest CBRS Auction Draws an Astoundingly Diverse Set of Applicants

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• On July 23rd, the auction for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) for CBRS began; each PAL consists of a 10 megahertz channel in the highly coveted 3.55-3.65 GHz band. 22,631 licenses will be offered, with seven licenses available for each U.S. county (or census tract). So far the auction has resulted in 271 qualified bidders.

• The applicants are an astounding array of companies from mobile network operators and cable companies, to wireless Internet service providers, electric utilities, universities, and large enterprises. They are excited about using CBRS spectrum to supplement existing networks for public or private use, or to roll out their own networks without having to engage with a service provider. In either case, the auction may have a significant effect on public and private wireless networks and on the race to offer 5G.

CBRS spectrum has been talked about for years as an exciting opportunity for service providers that don’t own their own wireless spectrum to get some – and to get highly desirable spectrum in the mid-band where operators see faster speeds or better coverage than for low-band or high-band (mmWave) spectrum, respectively, for LTE or eventually 5G. In January 2020, licenses were granted to companies that want to be part of the CBRS ecosystem by becoming providers of Spectrum Access Systems (SAS) that are essentially frequency coordinators that allocate access to companies that want to be part of a complex spectrum sharing scheme. SAS licenses were granted to Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony, companies that hope to gain revenues from CBRS for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways (including mobile device and CBRS equipment sales, professional services, and revenues from coordinating secondary market access from PAL licensees that want to resell their spectrum to other companies). GAA users are companies that use spectrum allocated by the SAS providers and are in the lowest tier of a set of three tiers (including GAA at the bottom, PAL in the middle, and, on top, the incumbent Department of Defense and Navy organizations that get highest priority use of the spectrum). GAA users can access any portion of the 3.5 GHz band not assigned to higher tier users. Continue reading “The Latest CBRS Auction Draws an Astoundingly Diverse Set of Applicants”

Unified Endpoint Management: Solutions Evolve with Advanced Security, Analytics, and App Enablement

Summary Bullets:

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

• GlobalData’s latest update on the unified endpoint management (UEM) market sees market leaders (such as VMware, MobileIron, and BlackBerry) adding differentiated capabilities to foster greater adoption.

• New offerings include support for IoT devices, app performance monitoring, usage analytics, and threat management. Easy on-boarding for a remote-first workforce and integration of multiple platforms are also important to UEM customers, as COVID-19 offers unique challenges.

While UEM discovers, manages, and secures mobile devices and governs those devices’ access to enterprise applications and data just like its predecessor enterprise mobility management (EMM), UEM also provides management and control functions for traditional desktops and laptops, IoT devices, and applications used on diverse end-points. UEM also offers a wide range of additional features including secure collaboration, file editing, sharing and cloud-based file storage, mobile app customization and deployment, analytics for mobile devices and applications, and IoT device and data management and security. UEM has emerged as a mechanism for organizations to unify management of mobile and traditional endpoints as well as provision applications across multiple platforms. Continue reading “Unified Endpoint Management: Solutions Evolve with Advanced Security, Analytics, and App Enablement”

AWS Telco Symposium: 5G, Edge, and IoT Come Together

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • AWS partners with telcos in four primary domains: digital transformation and modernization; applied AI/ML; business automation; and monetization of 5G, edge, and IoT. At a recent virtual symposium, presentations on each area were replete with solutions and use-case examples, shedding considerable light on the breadth of AWS’s vision.
  • 5G, edge, and IoT are increasingly linked as key technologies that work together for telco growth. The event illustrated how AWS is already playing a key role as a partner and enabler, helping telcos bring new solutions to light as 5G emerges, while expanding its own opportunities.

AWS held a half-day virtual symposium on July 8 that focused on its telco business; the solutions the hyperscaler and its partners detailed were extensive, highlighting how telcos of all shapes and sizes have extensive relationships with AWS. Carriers often depend on the provider for much more than cloud infrastructure. While these alliances are often synergistic and reciprocal (as telco relationships also are with Microsoft and Google), and clearly the two ‘camps’ of telco and cloud provider can’t quite live without the other, there is also some level of ambiguity/co-opetition as they offer joint or highly enmeshed solutions to many of the same enterprises. Continue reading “AWS Telco Symposium: 5G, Edge, and IoT Come Together”