IoT, once again, was one of the hot topics/buzzwords at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Other technologies or concepts that got a lot of airtime in briefings and press releases were 5G, AI (artificial intelligence), (IoT) cybersecurity, network slicing and SD-WAN (software defined wide area network).
In this brief insight, we have picked out three developments that cut across three broad IoT-related themes we saw at MWC (and indeed previous events) namely: lowering the cost of IoT connectivity; reducing complexity for developers and enterprises in planning IoT projects and increased focus on generating value from IoT data
First, Arm’s unveiling of Arm Kigen, which integrates eSIM into SoC design. The first part of this is Arm Kigen OS, which will enable the integration of an MCU (microcontroller unit), cellular modem and iSIM (integrated SIM, ARM’s enhancement to GSMA Embedded SIM Specification) into a single SoC (System-on-a-Chip). The second part of this is a remote provisioning server solution that seeks to address the needs not only of OEMs, but also of mobile network operators, and IoT platforms to secure identity of cellular IoT devices, manage SIM lifecycle and perform FOTA (firmware-over-the-air) updates.
Second, 1NCE’s launch of very low flat-rate NB-IoT tariffs. 1NCE, an MVNO partner of Deutsche Telekom, will charge an upfront, prepay fee for each device of 10 euro for ten years. Over the decade, customers will have access to a total of 500MB per device. The offer is currently available in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland.
Third, Kerlink’s investment in IoT data specialist Microshare. The French-headquartered IoT network and operations provider has invested in and formed a partnership with Microshare, a US-based IoT data management company. The latter’s core solution allows enterprises to store IoT data and provide secure, rules-based entitlement to this data to third parties. According to a press release, this is Kerlink’s first investment in another company.
eSIM (or eUICC) is getting increasing attention from OEMs and their partners for two main reasons. Firstly, the SIM can be installed during the device manufacturing process, based on a single SKU, thus reducing cost and logistical complexity. Secondly, unlike traditional physical SIM cards, eUICC-based SIM can be provisioned and profiles (such as support from multiple MNOs) programmed and updated remotely over the air. As such, notwithstanding other local environmental and related legal requirements, OEMs can ship the same connected product, such as a connected washing machine, globally. Likewise, the driver of a car with eUICC-based mobile connectivity can avoid roaming charges by switching to a local network when travelling across borders. The above two examples, connected washing machines and cars, represent large, relatively expensive devices. Through reducing the bill of material from three (apps processor, radio modem and a physical SIM or eSIM) to one (an MCU, radio and iSIM integrated into a single SoC) Arm is seeking to enable the deployment at scale of small, lower cost devices such as wearables and trackers.
Sizeable upfront device development costs represent one barrier to cellular IoT adoption. No less a barrier for cellular IoT is the perception among enterprises that connectivity tariffs are high, or at least opaque or overly complex. 1NCE’s launch of a flat-rate pricing model seeks to address both areas of concern. It also acknowledges that the traditional way of IoT data pricing (per bit) is not suitable for devices that transmit very little data, such as water meters or smoke detectors. This is not quite the lifetime IoT pricing that some enterprises are asking for, but is a step in that direction from one of Europe’s leading IoT providers, Deutsche Telekom, and its partner 1NCE.
More often than not, the terms artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) come up in conversations on IoT. Last year, Dell went so far as to coin “IQT” – the marriage of IoT (connectivity) with intelligence or IQ in the form of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to deliver the greatest benefit to organizations deploying IoT. This all makes sense – it is the analysis of data, rather than connectivity in itself, that can help enterprises solve problems, create efficiencies, develop new sources of revenue or improve customer experience.
But what data? No enterprise or organization exists in a vacuum, but are dependent upon on their own suppliers and partners to meet customer requirements. Sharing data (and applying analytics) can give them a much more accurate view of the efficiency of their operations and areas for improvement. Opening up data to third-party developers, can, as has been shown in mobile apps space, drive innovation. As we shift from a siloed “Intranet of Things” to a more open “Internet of Things”, the ability to store IoT data, as well as enable secure third-party discovery and entitlement to IoT devices and data will be increasingly important.Kerlink’s investment in and partnership with Microshare will enable it to provide additional services, data storage and brokering, to its existing range of IoT networks and operations services. The deal also gives it direct access to the important US and the UK market, where Microshare has a subsidiary. IHS Markit identified data exchange brokerage (DEB) as one of the key development areas in its IoT trend watch 2018 and indeed a growing number of IoT platforms are building in DEB capabilities into their offerings.