In a new report from Ericsson, “Exploring IoT Strategies,” 70 percent of the surveyed service providers said they were focusing on cellular IoT for their internet of things (IoT) strategy. Cellular IoT technologies include CAT-M and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). CAT-M will be used in place of WiFi to create more secure, lower-cost, and lower-power connections for enterprises deploying the technology, according to the report.
Ericsson interviewed 20 telecom service providers for the report. Ten were selected out of a group of 30 deemed the world’s fastest-growing and most mature mobile broadband service providers, as determined by Ericsson’s growth code. The other ten were selected because they are considered global IoT leaders, based on number of connections, offerings, and their ambitions to scale.
The report found that there are four essential roles in IoT for service providers: network providers, connectivity providers, service enablers, and service creators. While each of these roles will be present in the market, the network and connectivity providers represent the majority of providers working on cellular IoT use cases. However, 80 percent of the providers interviewed said they wanted to become service enablers or creators in select areas of the market.
This push for cellular IoT is fueled by 5G. Service providers interviewed by Ericsson said that 5G will have a “substantial impact on IoT” once more 5G use cases are defined.
Network providers will offer “reliable and scalable networks to connect IoT devices,” according to the research. To do so, there are a number of capabilities that providers will have to offer, including evaluating a diverse number of use cases, using value-added resellers, introducing flexible data pricing and bundled data, forming device and application partnerships, and incorporating edge and network slicing into their offerings.
A number of U.S. carriers have already started deploying NB-IoT and CAT-M networks. Verizon plans to deploy its NB-IoT network across its footprint this year and launched its nationwide CAT-M network last year. AT&T has already rolled out a CAT-M network, and T-Mobile has said it will have a nationwide NB-IoT network by mid-year and will begin deploying its CAT-M network following that.
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Ericsson’s report said that connectivity providers will manage the connections and lifecycles of IoT devices and their data. Providers in this space are working on cloud-based traffic monitoring and data analytics to serve multiple geographies, and others are building platforms that optimize supply chain management, troubleshoot connections, and configure rules — all to manage IoT connectivity and manage the data from the large volume of connected devices.