Mobile World Congress is over, and I am leaving Barcelona with a lot of new food for thought.
On the highest level, the event itself did not have much new to offer. Same as last year it was IoT, 5G, and devices of different kinds. Most notably this year was the almost compulsory smart car. Different applications of virtual or augmented reality were also frequently exposed. This is also making MWC more accessible to a broader audience rather than the hardcore telecom event it once was.
The main theme of this year´s event – Creating a #betterfuture – with it focus on the UN 17 sustainability goals, was a good and necessary theme to gather around. And also something highly relevant for us in the IoT space since IoT has proven to make a significant difference in addressing challenges and creating good, in everything from the healthcare industry, to smart city topics such as energy, transportation, and housing.
What brings value to me at MWC is to meet with all the different players in the IoT ecosystem. After 30 meetings in three days, some really interesting conversations have been held. So what are my key takeaways?
With its high pace of development, the IoT ecosystem is maturing. This is not the least reflected by a higher focus on value creation and quality among our customers. Nowadays, the dialogues are less about rushing into the market at the lowest price possible. There is instead an understanding of the alternative costs and risks of working with someone not providing the right quality of service.
The IoT eco-system are taking steps forward regarding innovation and especially around smart SIM technologies. This will disrupt the IoT ecosystem and help enterprises to get more in control versus their connectivity providers, while ensuring a higher degree of flexibility to deliver value to the customers. One example of a smart SIM initiative is the soft-SIM we developed together with Telit and Idemia, shown in the Telit stand. In this context, a soft-SIM means a software-only based SIM that is installed on capable hardware (pre or post taken into use).
Similar to last years, there were a lot of questions about Low Power Wide Area and Narrowband technologies. When will they become available on a larger scale and which ones will be the most successful? Cat-M and NB-IoT are picked up by operators on a broad front, and we can expect to see launches towards the end of the year and beginning of next year from several players. Depending on the use case and geography, there will be a mix of different technologies in use. There will be a combination of “public” macro networks and more local private ones. It will not be uncommon that devices will move between private and public networks and vice versa. That is also why we at Tele2 IoT have chosen to take a technology agnostic position when it comes to the management of this plethora of technologies. Watch this space for our announcements later on in the year!
The need for partnerships in IoT is as prevalent as ever, and more and more players have concluded that co-operation is the way forward. For us, the big announcement at MWC 2018 was the partnership with Nokia, where we will have a three-fold relation. On top of being partners, we are also customers and suppliers to each other. They buy among other things smart SIM technologies from us, and we buy a global cloud core network from them. This way of interaction will be more common as companies are looking for diversification in the IoT value chain. We are not acting in one role only any longer.
Finally, I want to say that I am very humble and proud of the role Tele2 IoT now plays in the IoT ecosystem. We only started four years ago, and we are already one of the major go-to-players in our share of the IoT value chain. I welcome 2018 with open arms, and already I am looking forward to MWC 2019.