Telcos exploring mixed approaches to IoT

Telcos believe the arrival of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G technologies will transform the industry and generate revenue growth, but there is no consensus on strategy.

A new report from Ericsson found that traditional telco revenue streams are being squeezed by over the top (OTT) applications, intense competition and, in Europe, tightening regulation. 

IoT is recognised as a way of delivering new services that will offset these declines and fund network investment.

IoT growth

Indeed, revenue is the main driver of IoT interest but 70 per cent of service providers have no well-defined strategy, suggesting a multitude of paths towards IoT or even a lack of direction/

What is more clear is that telcos are looking to be more than just connectivity providers with four fifths looking to add value to the network with services.

“The report confirms the importance of IoT to the current and future business of leading service providers, no matter where they operate in the world,” said Jeff Travers, head of IoT at Ericsson. 

“Regarding IoT as a new type of business, service providers are investing in new technologies and establishing new business models for revenue sharing and increased use of indirect channels. They are also creating new delivery models for as-a-service and online services and driving innovation with partners and customers.”

Mobile networks are just one of a number of technologies looking to connect the IoT, along with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and proprietary standards like SIGFOX. The main advantage of cellular is of course range, with improvements to coverage and battery consumption, along with new standards like Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) making it more attractive.

However most accept that IoT will need a combination of different connectivity technologies. 5G’s low latency and high capacity will be a huge leap forward for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.