As Principal Analyst for Enterprise Mobility at Current Analysis, Kathryn is responsible for analyzing events, companies, products and technologies within the wireless and converged wireline/wireless enterprise services and solutions space.
GlobalData’s Q2 mobile trends report provides growth rates and insights into subscriptions for mobile networks across service types and regions; it also offers clues to the progress of IoT uptake in various regions.
Examples of operator traction and new initiatives are quite diverse, while regional growth rates are moderate, in the range of 12% to 16% CAGR. For all regions, IoT has steadily (if slowly) been gaining ground and the outlook is positive.
GlobalData published its latest Competitive Landscape report on IIoT Services in May 2021. In analyzing the large number of new capabilities and alliances that were announced by the top mobile operators, a number of issues are clear:
• While COVID-19 may have dampened demand early on for IoT solutions, in late 2020 and early 2021 the market came roaring back.
• Market expansion is not limited to COVID-related projects, and announcements are for a wide-ranging set of new IoT offerings that may represent projects for which there was pent-up demand during the pandemic.
• These new initiatives have been energized in part by related capabilities such as private networks, edge computing, and 5G rollouts.
The following list is a super-set of announcements from the GlobalData report showcasing more of the primary announcements that operators in the U.S. and Europe have made over the past six months; they imply solid momentum for IoT.
• 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.
In recent months, AT&T and Verizon have launched business services leveraging 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) that complement consumer versions introduced in 2019 or 2020.
We examine where these services fit into the rest of their business portfolios, how are they positioned, and potential pitfalls and competitive threats the operators need to look out for.
AT&T launched 5G FWA for businesses in March 2021, described as the “first nationwide business-focused broadband network.” Customers can choose from Sierra Wireless or Ericsson/Cradlepoint routers and pay for either 50 or 100 Mbps speeds (on low-band 5G, as AT&T’s mmWave service is still limited). The operator positions these services as fiber alternatives, where fiber may be unavailable, or hints that there may also be cases where customers may appreciate the speeds, flexibility, and easier provisioning of 5G. It notes that it has 2.5 million business locations already served by fiber or wireless broadband (as LTE has been offered for two years) and the new 5G service offers equal control and security to fiber through closed, dedicated tunnels to the mobile network that are not accessible by other devices. It is described as ideal for companies that have many distributed sites (such as large retailers), and along with fiber, these customers can count on AT&T for nationwide coverage. AT&T usage examples include POS solutions for retailers, pop-up stores, and backup, with prioritization noted as an option. AT&T has further launched an expanded portfolio with Cradlepoint that combines AT&T’s broadband network, data plans, and management with Cradlepoint’s 5G adapters, routers, and wireless WAN lifecycle management platform. New vertical opportunities are noted by the partners; Cradlepoint offers a 5G mobile router for in-vehicle networks, as well as adapters that can integrate with AT&T’s SD-WAN service to position 5G as a primary connectivity option. Continue reading “The 5G Fixed Wireless Access Opportunity: Where Does It Fit Within Enterprise Services?”→
The current generation of location services based on GPS and GNSS can only guarantee precision from three to nine meters; according to Verizon, this is not accurate enough to serve applications that depend on very precise real-time location information such as autonomous vehicles, drones, and AI-enhanced construction.
Verizon’s SaaS-based hyper-precise location (HPL) offering, now integrated into its ThingSpace IoT platform, may be a game-changer, unless other operators have capabilities in the works that can match self-correcting accuracy that provides precision to the centimeter level.
Verizon has been working on integration of hyper-precise location technology into its ThingSpace IoT platform for several years. Now that its 5G and edge technologies are also starting to be more widely available, the operator has launched a service that takes advantage of a capability called real-time kinematics (RTK), which has been available for a decade but has had limited coverage and couldn’t scale to large fleets or IoT deployments. Verizon is using its cloud backend to make the technology available as a service in 100 markets, with the aim of ‘hypercharging’ new solutions for 4G/5G. It is currently designed for use cases that rely on very precise location. The service uses reference stations with known locations and then collects signals and observes the error between what the signal suggests as the location and where the reference station actually is located. It uses this to reverse-calculate the error and provide error correction to all nearby devices very rapidly (i.e. data is collected/corrected every second). Verizon has deployed multiple reference stations in each of its 100 markets in order to provide ‘correction as a service.’ The autonomous driving segment (including location information for C-V2X protocols) is the most obvious market to require this kind of precision (not only for truly autonomous vehicles, but also for interim capabilities such as lane keeping, as RTK knows where in the lane the vehicle is located). However, it seems clear that other IoT use cases such as robotics ‘last-mile’ functionality, AI-enhanced construction, and pedestrian safety will be emerging applications. Continue reading “Verizon Hyper-Precise Location: Is This a Game-Changer for IoT?”→
Capgemini held an analyst event at its new 5G Lab in Paris on March 30, which detailed its strategy to generate excitement about 5G and drive usage among both existing and potential business customers.
The lab will not only demo use cases that showcase the capabilities of 5G to drive transformation, but will also help businesses develop and test PoCs and deploy new use cases at scale, while navigating the complexity of the ecosystem for connectivity, edge, cloud, and other enablers.
Capgemini’s new 5G Lab is a sister facility to one in Mumbai, India; the company also has a facility in Portugal that helps telecom providers develop 5G network solutions. The company is clearly excited about the potential of 5G to energize digital transformation, ignite innovative use cases, and of course, drive business. As a leading systems integrator and provider of solutions that enable intelligent industry solutions, Capgemini sees 5G as an important and potentially disruptive enabler that can help redefine how the world will be connected and lead to new revenue-generating business models. It points out that 5G is the first wireless network developed with the enterprise in mind due to its high availability, capacity, and speeds; its low latency (especially when coupled with edge solutions); its support for massive IoT; and its enablement of mission-critical applications. Continue reading “Capgemini Opens 5G Lab in Paris, Detailing Strategy to Energize Customers to Develop Innovative Use Cases”→
The enterprise IoT platform market continues to evolve. GlobalData reports that new initiatives over the last six months have focused on edge services, hybrid cloud integration, LoRaWAN support, vertical solutions, and new integrations and partnerships.
GlobalData also notes that AWS, IBM, Microsoft, PTC, and Google continue to lead this market. However, other providers, including Software AG, Oracle, Huawei, Hitachi, and Siemens, also have strong solutions.
The fragmentation of the IoT supplier ecosystem has long been a barrier to adoption, as enterprises may be worried about having to separately negotiate, pay for, and manage connectivity, devices, security solutions, management platforms, and vertical solutions from multiple suppliers.
The role IT services providers play in making IoT easier to adopt and use is by offering a one-stop shop that combines their own and third-party solutions and adds advisory, integration, professional and managed services, and end-to-end vertical solutions.
In COVID-19 times, IoT has evolved to become a key enabler of solutions to ensure safety of workers, facilitate remote operations through monitoring and control, and ensure uninterrupted supply chains. Some operators and IT services providers (ITSPs) have thrived in this environment, while others have found it difficult to convince skeptical businesses to invest in what may still be perceived as an unproven technology (that has actually been around for 20+ years) with uncertain outcomes. In past years, it has also been difficult for some IoT ecosystem vendors to generate substantial revenues, with security breaches, supplier fragmentation, and perceived high solution costs listed by enterprises as barriers to adoption, along with difficult-to-prove ROIs. Continue reading “Can IT Service Providers Add Significant Value to IoT Deployments?”→
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”→
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”→