What’s New in Industrial IoT Services?

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • In spite of a likely short-term dampening effect on technology spending due to COVID-19, many businesses are continuing to see the benefits of IoT, and mobile operators are meeting their demand through new capabilities.
  • Over the last six months, new roaming relationships, ecosystem alliances for application enablement, vertical solutions, and edge partnerships have deepened and broadened IoT service portfolios.

While we wait for significantly more ubiquitous availability of 5G, which we believe will be an enabler of further real-time ultra-low latency IoT capabilities in a few years, the IoT ecosystem remains active and engaged. Not only are there IoT applications which help detect and combat COVID-19 (seeCOVID-19: As IoT Ramps Up, Will COVID-19 Tamp It Down or Will the Ecosystem Find Ways to Help Detect and Combat the Pandemic?,” March 25, 2020); mobile operators have also added significantly to their portfolios over the last six months to make IoT offerings more compelling to businesses. These additions include edge alliances, partnerships for roaming and footprint expansion, application enablement and analytics, and vertical solutions. Continue reading “What’s New in Industrial IoT Services?”

5G Will Play a Key Role in Economic Recovery but Spectrum Availability is Key

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• 5G and the ecosystem around it will be a major contributor to the economy and facilitate economic recovery post-COVID.

• Regulators need to provide greater certainty on spectrum availability to allow operators to plan their investment and activities to get new 5G services to the market in a timely manner.

2020 is expected to be the year of 5G. With leading carriers already launched 5G in 2019, the rollout of 5G was ramping up and new 5G-ready devices were in the product pipelines of major manufacturers. However, 5G’s momentum, like many other segments of the economy, has been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key challenges for mobile operators is the availability of 5G spectrum. Mobile operators’ 5G rollout plans are often closely linked to the spectrum availability made by regulators. Unfortunately, the virus outbreak has led to some regulators putting planned spectrum allocations/auctions on hold due to health and financial reasons. Meantime, operators are also seeing a significant spike in mobile data services over the last two months. For example, in Spain, the telecom operators saw a 40 percent increase in IP traffic, a 25 percent increase in mobile data, and a five-fold increase in OTT messaging traffic (e.g., WhatsApp). Continue reading “5G Will Play a Key Role in Economic Recovery but Spectrum Availability is Key”

Verizon’s Multi-Layer Approach to IoT Security

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• While there are many approaches to IoT security, consumers and businesses still have reasonable doubt – will carriers and vendors be able to sway public opinion?

• Service providers talk about the need to provide security at every layer – at end and edge devices, for data in transit through multiple networks, and to cloud services providers and applications. Verizon is well on its way to realize this goal.

Every survey conducted by GlobalData on IoT (and every other one I have ever seen) over the past five years notes that the major barrier to adoption of IoT is still fear of the lack of end-to-end security and “the end” of data privacy. It doesn’t help that in-home devices such as cameras and voice assistants have already caused some famously embarrassing invasions of privacy. We are approaching a time when 5G-enabled low latency, high speed, and “massive” bandwidth availability may finally push IoT adoption towards the tens of billions of devices that have been predicted for years. But alongside this growth is a vision of billions of unprotected, unmanned devices in the field that are able to not only see and hear what humans say and use this data to sell products, but may cause serious breaches to business and government systems that have already been weakened by cyber-security malware and identity theft. Continue reading “Verizon’s Multi-Layer Approach to IoT Security”

COVID-19: Industrial Automation Has Become an “Essential” Business Process

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• The definition of an essential business during the pandemic is an evolving one and includes more than just grocery stores, drug stores, and financial services. As the food supply may be in danger, the definition has expanded.

• To keep industries running that affect the national food supply, companies that provide industrial automation solutions that help ensure that manufacturing lines of food and beverage companies keep going are now considered essential.

After I got over my horror that my son was still expected to go into his company office three times a week, I learned that his business was considered an essential one, according to state COVID-19 definitions. This is because his company keeps manufacturing companies, which include food and beverage manufacturers, up and running, through industrial automation, robotics, and machine vision technology. I interviewed my son to find out how this works. Continue reading “COVID-19: Industrial Automation Has Become an “Essential” Business Process”

COVID-19: Post-Crisis Outlook for 5G Adoption in the Enterprise

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • While 5G for consumers will kick-start the appetite, enterprise 5G has long been considered the ‘real’ opportunity for a wide ecosystem of service providers and vendors.
  • With some operators delaying launches and standards bodies delaying updates due to COVID-19, when will we see the market take off?

While operators are seeing huge demand for core voice, data, and collaboration services among consumer and enterprise customers that need to leverage remote communication while social distancing, 5G is such a nascent technology that the addition of a global pandemic is bound to have a dampening effect on the market opportunity. In the consumer market, there is still no 5G iPhone (until September at the earliest), and in general, carriers are having some trouble explaining to customers why they need to upgrade to 5G. Even without the pandemic, there has been limited uptake of new and expensive 5G devices that don’t provide clear benefits, even though operators have not yet pushed up data plan prices. Continue reading “COVID-19: Post-Crisis Outlook for 5G Adoption in the Enterprise”

COVID-19: AT&T Responds to the Crisis by Adapting Services to Fit Unique Requirements of Businesses and First Responders

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Telecom operators are seeing a huge uptick in usage of their voice and collaboration services, as droves of employees are now working remotely.
  • AT&T is not only meeting this capacity demand surge, but also adapting enterprise offerings and support services as well as launching new capabilities for first responders.

Not surprisingly, AT&T has already seen a huge uptick in business usage of its voice and collaboration services in the past three weeks. In addition to meeting this capacity surge, it is also adapting its services portfolio with 13 unique business offers while also enhancing communication capabilities to meet the needs of first responders. Continue reading “COVID-19: AT&T Responds to the Crisis by Adapting Services to Fit Unique Requirements of Businesses and First Responders”

COVID-19: As IoT Ramps Up, Will COVID-19 Tamp It Down or Will the Ecosystem Find Ways to Help Detect and Combat the Pandemic?

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

Summary Bullets

• As many sectors of the economy are already negatively affected by COVID-19, the big ramp up of IoT that we have been anticipating, alongside the growth of 5G and edge computing, may also be in jeopardy.

• However, IoT may also be used to facilitate capabilities such as remote learning, remote health monitoring, working at home, enhanced public safety, and people tracking, much-needed technology for detecting and even helping to fight the disease.

With the global economy in a tailspin, technology providers within the IoT ecosystem are looking for ways to use their skills, software platforms, infrastructure, and connectivity platforms to help fight both the economic and health problems associated with COVID-19. Some of the areas where IoT is likely to be put to good use include:

Smart Detection: People Tracking/video surveillance and facial recognition with location permissions tracked via phone apps (used in China and Israel). HD cameras for body temperature monitoring.

Smart Healthcare: Remote patient monitoring and telehealth (thermal imaging for contagion monitoring, remote monitoring and diagnosis at home and during patient transfer, smart medical robots to care for quarantined patients)

Smart Home: Sinks to control soap and water flow for proper handwashing

Smart City/Public Safety: Patrol drones to enforce Shelter-in-Place laws, control centers for food and resource supply management

Smart Manufacturing: Remote equipment monitoring/repair, along with machine vision to detect anomalies. Remote command centers/IT and security management. Remote/OTA security and patches for connected equipment in manufacturing, utilities and oil and gas locations.

Wearables: Smart watches and fitness trackers for early detection. Smart rings for healthcare workers to track their own temperature and other parameters. Remote/OTA security and patches for wearable devices.

Some of these initiatives are causing legitimate concerns over privacy, as governments (in China and Israel for example) may use technology to control crowds, identify people who have been exposed to the virus through surveillance, AI, facial recognition, and video analytics, and even block their access to specific locations. Telecom operators are also involved because these controls are often dependent on exposing location and other personal data on users’ phones.

Continue reading “COVID-19: As IoT Ramps Up, Will COVID-19 Tamp It Down or Will the Ecosystem Find Ways to Help Detect and Combat the Pandemic?”

COVID-19: Communication Providers Step Up to Utilize Blockchain for New Use Cases, Including Helping People Impacted by the Outbreak

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Blockchain use cases are evolving, including new systems devised by service providers to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alibaba’s use of blockchain for more efficiently distributing financial payments to affected parties is a good example.
  • The industry has also seen an uptick in other telecom providers’ involvement in the blockchain market, resulting in a number of deployments aimed at improving business processes and enhancing service offerings.

Blockchain holds promise as an enabler for service providers for a wide range of internal and external (customer-facing) use cases, ranging from IoT and mobile device security to payments, supply chain management, asset tracking, and logistics. Retail, manufacturing, and healthcare companies have been identified as the most likely industries to take advantage of these capabilities, but there are many companies that can benefit from the secure trusted ledgers enabled by blockchain. At the same time, during the world’s COVID-19 pandemic, early blockchain use cases are appearing as parts of efforts to help combat the crisis, including Alibaba’s use of blockchain for more efficiently distributing financial payments to affected parties. Continue reading “COVID-19: Communication Providers Step Up to Utilize Blockchain for New Use Cases, Including Helping People Impacted by the Outbreak”

COVID-19: Netherlands Innovator Taps Blockchain and AI in the War Against COVID-19

Summary Bullets:

• VirusBlockchain deployed this week to identify and monitor COVID-19 free zones

• The blockchain monitoring system is backed by technology provider Qlikchain

This week the tech industry partnered with a public health consortium to launch a blockchain-enabled monitoring system aimed at keeping communities at bay from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Public Health Blockchain Consortium (PHBC) announced the new system which monitors healthy, uninfected individuals as they move between locations in order to automatically identify zones that are safe or unsafe. The system is built on a blockchain solution which combines AI, geographical information systems (GIS), and real-time information systems provided by virus surveillance providers.

Called VirusBlockchain, the system serves as a systematic, continuous, and anonymous verification of citizens and all workplaces in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection. The project is unlike other approaches that would typically track infected persons. Continue reading “COVID-19: Netherlands Innovator Taps Blockchain and AI in the War Against COVID-19”

COVID-19: GlobalData Sees No Need for Forecast Changes Yet

Joel Cooper Senior Director – Market Data and Intelligence

Summary Bullets:

• GlobalData has established daily monitoring to assess the possible impact on our core telecoms and pay TV forecasts from COVID-19. As and when required, we will adjust our projections.

• Our measured, evidence-based approach to reviewing and adjusting our forecasts is supported by recent telco executive statements on COVID-19, which point to it being too early to tell what the specific impact of COVID-19 will be on their businesses.

We are actively monitoring our telecoms and pay-TV forecast portfolio countries for possible impact from COVID-19, and are ready to revise our projections as and when required. GlobalData’s forecast coverage encompasses mobile (108 countries), fixed (98 countries), multiplay (22 countries), and pay-TV (57 countries; click here for more.

Our daily monitoring covers a large variety of dimensions related to COVID-19, including:

• The potential impact on GDP and employment.

• The impact on telcos’ 5G rollout projects – a slowdown in rollout could result from travel restrictions on staff responsible for network deployment as well as disruption to equipment shipments and manufacturing.

• The impact on telco retail operations – e.g., a shortage of staff in shops or shops closing down may have a negative impact on subscriber acquisition.

• The impact on telco call center operations (on-shore and off-shore) – a shortage of staff in call centers or temporary call center closures could have a negative impact on customer retention activities, renewals and customer support.

• The impact on telecoms revenue – for example, a telecoms ARPU uplift could potentially occur due to an increase in service usage resulting from reduced physical mobility (e.g., a rise in mobile/fixed data usage, mobile calls, video usage, and virtual meetings/conference calling).

• The impact on handset sales, driven by potential disruption in handset manufacturing supply chains.

Our evidence-based approach to reviewing and revising our forecasts is supported by recent statements from several telcos. Collectively, these statements highlight that it is currently too early to accurately assess the impact COVID-19 will have on telecoms markets.

On March 11, 2020, for example, Telecom Italia’s CEO, Luigi Gubitosi, made comments to the effect that it was at this stage difficult to determine the impact the epidemic would have on the company, but highlighted possible risk related to damage to the economy. In the U.S., AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and CFO John Stephens stated on March 10, 2020 that the company had not seen “a significant impact in its supply chain at this point.” Verizon has said it is yet to experience any material impact from the epidemic, mentioning that its supply of devices and network equipment have not, as yet, been affected, but acknowledging that both could be affected in the future. Deutsche Telekom’s CEO Timotheus Höttges made similar comments in February.

Furthermore, analysis of several previous epidemics shows that telecoms markets have proven broadly resilient to disruption caused by virus outbreaks. These cases support our view of taking a measured, evidence-based approach to revising our forecasts. We are fully aware, though, that the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in recent times and, as such, the relevance of these cases could be limited. Continue reading “COVID-19: GlobalData Sees No Need for Forecast Changes Yet”