Quantity and diversity of IoT services announcements in H2 2021 imply strong momentum – Verdict

GlobalData’s latest Global Industrial IoT Services (IIoT) Competitive Landscape Assessment report highlights operators’ heightened focus on IoT in 2021 and implies high expectations for this market in the near future. The sheer quantity (over 30 press releases) and diversity of public announcements about IoT in H2 2021 from operators in the US, Europe and the Asia Pacific were astounding, with new services, use cases, alliances, and technologies in progress to further operators’ aspirations.

The IIoT Services market has been in transition over the last two years as its role in providing important pandemic solutions such as remote health care monitoring, vaccine and test tracking, people tracking, building occupancy, and thermal temperature measurement have been helping with momentum. There was also pent up demand in 2020/2021 for new and expanded deployments of non-pandemic related IoT use cases.

While GlobalData expected the usual sprinkling of news from operators on new IoT alliances and services over the past six months, what was extraordinary about the June-to-November timeframe was the sheer number and diversity of announcements. We tracked over 30 public announcements from operators based in the US, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region, ranging from new alliances to expanded services, advanced technical capabilities, new infrastructure, unique go-to-market strategies, and diverse vertical solutions. The following is a small sample of the announcements, focusing on the US and Europe.

The US

  • AT&T announced that it will accelerate and streamline deployments of mobile IoT devices and applications for enterprise and government customers using Notecard by Blues Wireless, which allows any asset to be connected to the Cloud with carrier-grade security.
  • Verizon Business announced network, hardware, and analytics services for 5G-compatible IoT applications, slated for launch by Q1 2022 and directed at manufacturing, healthcare, utilities, transportation, retail/supply chains, and public safety.
  • AT&T entered into an agreement with the US military to trial unmanned robots, aerial drones, and autonomous underwater vehicles, assisted by 5G and edge computing. The agreement is for maritime technology solutions for national defence and homeland security.
  • AT&T announced the Connected Climate Initiative, to help businesses reduce one billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Solutions will range from IoT for commercial and manufacturing facilities, AI management and monitoring solutions for transportation and energy, and broadband technologies to drive efficiency.
  • AT&T and connectivity solutions provider Kigen are in an agreement to help clients streamline supply chains and reduce the time-to-market for enterprises who want to leverage SIM, eSIM, and iSIM secured connectivity in their IoT devices.
  • Verizon Business will simplify and accelerate end-to-end IoT solutions by providing all critical components in the IoT value chain, including devices, network, Cloud hosting and AI. Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT platform has been integrated with Microsoft Azure to enable IoT builders to quickly create new IoT applications.
  • AT&T and JBG SMITH agreed to deliver the first 5G smart city at scale in National Landing, DC. The first network infrastructure deployments are planned for the 1H22. The project will involve immersive VR, AR, and massive IoT connections.

Europe

  • Telefónica Deutschland (O2) unveiled a new IoT tariff, which will bring NB-IoT to its entire mobile network on a prepaid basis. O2 Business Easy IoT is designed to provide operational visibility needed to manage the cost of connectivity, as well as scale reach.
  • Telefónica and venture capital company K launched Leadwind, a fund for investors in startups with a disruptive technology base, with a focus on enabling platforms of new business models at the intersection of AI, 5G connectivity, Edge Computing, IoT, Blockchain and data analytics.
  • Orange Business Services is providing IoT connectivity across Europe in partnership with global mobility brand Lynk & Co, a JV between Geely Auto Group and Volvo. Its ‘Always Connected’ car uses IoT network infrastructure to provide features like large configurable touch screens and telematics connected to the internet and the car’s Cloud.
  • Orange maritime clients can accelerate digital transformation with high-capacity satellite connectivity services provided by SES Networks, cost-effectively scaling up bandwidth with seamless, ubiquitous global services to leverage IoT and AI, edge, and Cloud applications.
  • Telefónica announced an agreement with C2RO to include C2RO PERCEIVE AI-based real-time video analytics in its portfolio of IoT and Big Data services. The solution helps establish behavioural patterns to help companies make better future strategic decisions.
  • Vodafone launched a new IoT platform for UK water companies to consolidate data from different industrial sensors into a single management plane. It allows water companies to prolong the life of legacy industrial equipment.
  • Orange, Sierra Wireless, LACROIX, and STMicroelectronics announced the IoT Continuum, a partnership that simplifies and accelerates mass deployment of IoT worldwide by bringing together expertise across the entire IoT industry (connectivity, hardware, software, design, and manufacturing).
  • Deutsche Telekom and 1NCE, a global IoT carrier for low bandwidth IoT applications, are collaborating with AWS to simplify the integration of IoT solutions. Using zero-touch integration, devices are connected quickly to the Deutsche Telekom IoT global network through automated device onboarding onto AWS.

Interesting trends emerge when sorting through these announcements: enhancements in ease of use for deployment and management remain a priority, highlighted by partnerships such as AT&T’s with Blues Wireless, expansion of the use of Cisco Control Center for 5G connectivity management, and DT’s alliance with 1NCE for automatic onboarding. The need for end-to-end solutions to simplify deployments is also important as shown by Verizon’s announcement that it will be providing all aspects of IoT solutions from connectivity to hardware, software, management, Cloud hosting, and AI, and Orange Business Services and partners’ initiatives to foster massive IoT through a diverse ecosystem. New use cases continue to develop such as Deutsche Telekom’s transportation safety and sustainability initiatives, and AT&T’s 5G smart city plan with JBG Smith. Trials with drones and smart video solutions are also clearly becoming areas of focus for many operators. In addition, IoT is increasingly being combined with AI, ML and Blockchain initiatives, highlighted by new partnerships and trials planned for new R&D centres.