ABI Research white paper pushes carriers to new strategies in IoT, outlines roles carriers must play to remain competitive

By Zenobia Hegde

While carriers are keen to play a leading role in the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities markets, they may be bypassed by other market players if they do not act. And while a new white paper from ABI Research urges carriers to adopt new strategies to establish their position within the IoTand remain competitive, one conclusion is highlighted: in order to deliver higher-value strategies beyond simple connectivity, the adoption of industry-wide standards is a must.

According to the white paper: “The deployment of open standards-based platforms, solutions, and approaches is the only way to unlock more value faster from IoT markets and, at the same time, allows adopting new business models, opening up new roles for carriers, such as aggregators and orchestrators of IoT ecosystems and market places.”

The report, ‘Role of carriers in smart cities and IoT,’ which was commissioned by InterDigital on behalf of its Smart Cities-focused business, ChordantÔ, outlines the core strategies for carriers to successfully maximise the opportunities presented by the IoT and smart cities.

For over a decade, carriers have been exploring the opportunities that exist for them in these markets and the role they can play beyond connectivity services. But there are questions around the carriers’ expertise, capabilities and operational flexibility.

One of the key decisions for carriers is whether to develop IoT and smart cities platform capabilities in-house, or whether to source them from specialised vendors.

According to ABI Research, there are four strategies that carriers can adopt:

Build: Developing smart cities and/or IoT platform capabilities in-house allows carriers to customise technology and optimise integration, but requires high development costs (OpEx/CapEx) as well as expertise.
Buy or, more specifically, source from partners: Carriers opting to source IoT technology face a bewildering array of choices from hundreds of IoT platforms. While this gives carriers flexibility and doesn’t require upfront investment, selection is complex, and may require revenue sharing with chosen partners.
Vertical integration: Carriers can either offer end-to-end services, or take on the role as a technology service provider, contributing to IoT or smart city services. While this gives carriers end-to-end control and allows them to capture a larger value share, it is complex, involves a legacy strategy, and time to market is much longer.
Open, standards-based platforms and marketplaces: Tapping into wider technology and end market ecosystems, and adopting open source approaches and smart city standards, would allow carriers to take on aggregator and orchestrator roles. While this is a forward-looking vision that supports interoperability and flexibility and is vendor agnostic, it requires IP protection and involves increased competition.

Jim Nolan

There are a number of factors that will influence the strategies that carriers decide to adopt. These include international footprint, scale, operational flexibility, time to market, resources, as well as market conditions.

“The advent of 5G makes the IoT and smart cities a reality – which means carriers need to re-think their approach beyond just providing connectivity services,” said Jim Nolan, executive vice president, Products, InterDigital.

“Carriers are in a good position to maximise the opportunities presented by the IoT – they are trusted brands who play a core central role as […]

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Posted on: June 14, 2018

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