Q1: How would you describe the current state of readiness of operators to deploy NB-IoT/IoT?
IoT sounds simple but it is very complicated. There are many elements and strategies based on the technology that you are using. We are in a confusing time with so many marketing messages and technologies, and the industry can expect to see a big consolidation of companies in the years ahead. We see activity in the unlicensed LPWAN (LoRa), new protocols and of course the 3GPP LPWAN technologies. Not everyone will make it and it will be interesting to watch. Carriers are the network experts, but it is very possible some of the non-traditional players will find a place in the market. The toughest challenge is to find ROI. Not all the business cases work and everyone is struggling to define use cases and real business.
Q2: Summa Networks provides a very cost-effective HLR/HSS. Why is this important to NB-IoT?
If you want to develop and deploy your network, you need network software to control your devices. To use existing software systems to control NB-IoT devices does not make sense. It is far too expensive to connect such low ARPU devices with a high ARPU device platform. Imagine a fire alarm that is not activated for most of its life. Carriers cannot profitably support these very low data, low use cases with the existing, expensive software infrastructure. Summa enables unlimited use cases on the system. Organizations outside of the operator world are becoming very interested in this functionality as well. Companies with large volumes of connected things realize that with a cost-effective control software they can be operator independent and better control their business. A company can now easily have their own independent, international MVNO network.
Q3: We often here about tier 1 MNOs when talking about IoT & 5G. What is the role of tier 2 & 3 players?
Many companies come to Summa asking for an HSS for NB-IoT, and then they end up asking for an HLR to support 2G and 3G as well to keep their costs very competitive as the ARPU is pressured. It is one of the big questions for MVNOs today. If I could predict the future, they new economies of IoT business provide more opportunities for smaller players with less fixed overhead costs and creates more opportunities for the smaller companies than the big ones. Focused offerings and deployments supporting specific verticals will prosper. A few years ago there were rumors that MVNOs would die. I now believe that they will do better than ever. The big MNOs will struggle to succeed with generic IoT offerings.
Q4: What mistakes do you see happening lately?
One European carrier launched an interesting new NB-IoT plan to enable consumers to connect many new devices around their home and vehicles. The lack of a detailed understanding of the customer and use cases resulted in a very low adoption rate. We are in the very early stages of IoT and everyone needs to do more testing and adjust based on the results. There is no clear leader.
Q5: What do the next 12 months look like in IoT, NB-IoT and for Summa Networks?
We will see an acceleration of IoT business around the world. Many of the smaller MVNOs are significantly increasing their activities and subscriber growth, especially in connected car. The next twelve months will see a big push from telematics, especially in Europe. The US is also moving faster. 2019 is the year of much more business in IoT.
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