The telecommunications industry is one of the leading users of rapidly developing Internet of Things technologies. Berg Insight, a dedicated IoT analyst company, predicts there will be 4.15 billion IoT devices connected to cellular networks globally by 2024, which means vast opportunities for telecom operators.
Let’s dive into the topic to see how IoT solutions and services are taking root in telecom businesses and what improvements they offer.
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The Opportunities IoT Opens to Telecoms
Telecom companies have been capitalizing on the growth in numbers of IoT devices (38.6 billion of which are forecast to be in use around the world by 2025). Their greatest advantage is the existing infrastructure of internet cables and mobile phone towers, which serves as the ground for creating new solutions and services based on 5G and IoT technologies.
Thus, telco operators maximize the opportunities of developing massive ecosystems of interconnected devices and people, and enabling their seamless communication. Many telecom service providers have already started developing IoT-based services and products to satisfy the needs of customers from various vertical markets.
Currently, the most promising niche for telecom operators is IoT in home automation: telecoms can provide exceptional mobile and network connectivity services to empower smart home mobile apps and various real-time monitoring systems.
In addition to smart homes, telecommunication professionals distinguish a range of industries where they see the most significant opportunities for implementing IoT services and solutions (as per the annual survey by Statista). These are:
- smart cities (traffic management, digital signage, environment monitoring, waste management)
- utilities (energy and water metering)
- manufacturing (automation, predictive maintenance)
- security (access control, video surveillance)
- agriculture (irrigation control, chemical application, livestock health)
- logistics (tracking of vehicles, transport conditions monitoring).
To take advantage of these opportunities, telecom companies need highly professional IoT development specialists who can properly implement the technology into existing infrastructure and business processes. Moreover, large telecom companies may need to build their own IoT platforms that will enable the development of custom products and services for any client’s needs. With an IoT platform for telecoms based on a modular architecture and working through APIs, network providers are guaranteed to expand their service portfolio.
Key IoT Use Cases in Telecom
The traditional work of communications service providers (CSPs) involves, first and foremost, data transmission via digital channels. But why not use the data potential to the fullest? By implementing IoT technology, which also deals with large amounts of data, telecom providers can offer entirely new solutions and services to their clients, significantly improving their position on the market.
Now, let’s discuss the most popular IoT use cases that telecom companies can adopt and what IoT solutions and services they can develop.
IoT Connectivity Services
The basic Internet of Things use case for telco operators is to provide connectivity services to customers who have their own IoT devices. Customers are responsible for data collection, storage and management, and telecom providers only keep clients’ infrastructure connected to the network.
Data Storage and Management
Another option is the storing and processing of data gathered from clients’ IoT devices on the telecom company’s side. In this case, the client runs a business application to access the necessary information on a centralized platform, while the provider is responsible for backend processes such as data storing, cleansing, classifying, filtering, etc.
Various types of analytics services are increasingly popular nowadays because they help businesses extract valuable insights from raw metrics and quickly make pivotal decisions. Telecom companies should not miss the opportunity. They can not only store IoT-generated data but also analyze it and deliver meaningful reports to clients. Specialized platforms from telecoms enhanced with AI- and ML-based algorithms can provide predictive analytics services that will soon be in high demand.
The remote asset monitoring service is another popular IoT telecom use case. In many industries, including transportation, retail and healthcare, the location of physical assets (vehicles, orders, patients) needs to be tracked in real time via a mobile app. This is where telecom operators can assist: using their extended communications networks and leveraging cloud computing, they can monitor asset movements by collecting signals from embedded sensors and transmitting them to industry-tailored applications.
PaaS and SaaS Solutions
Platform as a service (PaaS) is another option that can bring revenue to telecom companies. They can offer their cloud-based IoT platforms with a range of tools to their clients so that they can develop solutions independently. This is a useful service for customers as they utilize infrastructure and tools and don’t have to care about their management and support.
Moreover, telecom operators can offer software as a service (SaaS) applications tailored to various industries. Examples include a mobile healthcare app to monitor blood sugar levels or a mobile transportation app for fleet tracking.
Thus, the usage of IoT by telecom companies extends their services from standard connectivity to industry-specific end-user applications. This is possible due to the integration of user data with the vast capabilities of the existing telecom network infrastructure.
IoT Value for Telecoms
Internet of Things is undoubtedly the primary facilitator of further telecom industry development and the extension of its capabilities. The technology adds value to the whole industry and offers the following benefits:
- Higher speed and expanded bandwidth. IoT protocols and the integration with 5G networks can ensure data transmission from thousands of devices to multiple users while retaining communication speed and bandwidth at scale.
- Low latency. The technology minimizes downtime, which is crucial for customers whose business services depend on real-time processes.
- Increased power efficiency. By implementing IoT technologies, telecom companies significantly increase their power efficiency and become capable of handling millions of connected devices.
- New jobs. The introduction of new technologies and the development of new solutions imply additional job opportunities in the telecom sector.
- Increased revenues. Offering IoT services and solutions, telecommunications companies will be able to retain clients, attract new ones and, in general, increase customer loyalty. From a commercial point of view, this will ensure additional income growth and boost revenues in the long term.
To start leveraging the IoT capabilities, telecom providers should develop an IoT cloud platform. Where should they begin? Well, there are two options:
- Develop a custom platform from scratch
- Develop a platform based on a publicly available IoT cloud platform
Building your own platform from the ground up is a long-lasting process that requires financial investment and a team of highly experienced specialists, including cloud service development engineers. This option is reasonable when you need unique functionality that public platforms can’t ensure.
The option of building a telecom IoT platform on the basis of ready-made public cloud platforms is suitable for many companies as it’s more cost-efficient and less time-consuming. You can use their infrastructure, tools, services and pre-built functions without worrying about technical maintenance, scalability and data security. The only drawback is that the functionality isn’t as flexible as it is with custom development. Some of the best IoT platforms are currently Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, Google Cloud IoT, Amazon AWS IoT Core and more.
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The Future of IoT in the Telecommunications Industry
The prospects for implementing and developing IoT technologies in the telecom industry are promising. Of course, telecom operators, developers and end users need time to accumulate experience and build up expertise in this segment. Nevertheless, investments will pay off in the long run.
Telecom companies are predicted to promote their IoT services across various industries, including medicine, retail, agriculture and more in the near future. The technology will become a significant competitive advantage, optimizing performance, increasing service quality, and opening up additional opportunities.