Report: NB-IoT and LTE-M will produce almost $33bn for operators

A report from Dell’Oro Group predicts that IoT applications using Wide Area Network (WAN) technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M will produce nearly $ 33 billion in sales for service providers by 2022

According to the prediction, cellular technologies will account for 98 percent of the revenues. Overall, the revenue generated by wide area IoT applications is expected to grow around 2.5x over 2017 levels.

Stefan Pongratz, Senior Director at Dell’Oro Group, says:

“Service Providers have invested in cellular technologies for the past 30-plus years, and they are now in a unique position to capture new revenue from a diverse set of IoT use cases with minimal incremental mobile infrastructure investments.

The business case using cellular technologies, such as NB-IoT and LTE-M, is extremely compelling. Our analysis suggests the incremental investment in mobile radio access network and core infrastructure will yield around 30x of potential growth for the carriers by the end of the forecast period.”

Additional highlights from the Advanced Research: Wide Area IoT Report includes:

  • LTE connections, including NB-IoT and LTE-M, are expected to dominate the LPWA market.

  • 5G NR mMTC connections are expected to be negligible over the forecast period.

Dell’Oro Group’s report joins a similarly bullish recent forecast by ABI Research which predicts that revenues across 12 major smart city verticals will grow from $ 25 billion in 2017, to $ 62 billion in 2026.

Dominique Bonte, Vice President at ABI Research, comments:

“Interest in and focus on smart cities has skyrocketed in 2017, with a very large number of vendors from across the value chain repositioning and optimising their IoT portfolios to take advantage of this beckoning opportunity.

By its very nature of aggregating a wide range of solutions and technologies, the smart cities segment offers the perfect environment for suppliers to offer horizontal IoT platform solutions and addresses a recent trend toward more holistic, cross-vertical approaches.”

Seems the analysts can all agree the coming years are going to see huge growth in wide area networks — driven by the Internet of Things.

What are your expectations for WAN technologies in the coming years? Let us know in the comments.

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Top ten mobile operators have 76 percent market share in cellular IoT

Top ten mobile operators have 76 percent market share in cellular IoT

Top ten mobile operators have 76 percent market share in cellular IoT

A new report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight says that the ten leading global mobile operator groups have a combined market share of 76 percent in cellular IoT.

The top players reported a combined active base of 407 million cellular IoT connections at the end of H1-2017.

China Mobile was number one with 150 million IoT connections in the period. Vodafone ranked second, with a reported 59 million connections, ahead of China Unicom with 50 million IoT connections. AT&T and China Telecom ranked fourth and fifth with 36 million and 28 million IoT connections respectively. Deutsche Telecom, Softbank/Sprint, Verizon and Telefónica currently had in the range of 15–20 million cellular IoT subscribers, which are growing at yearly rates of 15–30 percent. Telenor was the last player in the top ten with approximately 12 million cellular IoT subscribers.

Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst at Berg Insight and author of the report, said:

“The Chinese mobile operators achieved tremendous volume growth in 2017, driven by accelerating uptake of cellular IoT in the domestic market. China Mobile is believed to have reached 200 million cellular IoT connections at the end of 2017”.

Vodafone and AT&T are consolidating their positions as regional market leaders in Europe and North America respectively, serving multinational clients on a global basis. “In 2017, Vodafone extended its lead in the European market”, says Mr Ryberg. “The competitors are however also gaining momentum and the expanding market has room for multiple players”.

In terms of revenues, the Western mobile operators are ahead of their Chinese counterparts. Berg Insight expects that at least three operator groups – AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone – will generate more than US$ 1 billion in revenues from IoT in 2018.

Berg Insight chart: cellular IoT subscribers (World 2016-2022)“The main strategy for growing IoT revenues is vertical plays in major application areas,” says Mr Ryberg. “Verizon, Vodafone and others have made significant acquisitions in the connected vehicle space to extend their product portfolios. AT&T and Deutsche Telekom develop dedicated practices for smart cities and many operators seek to play leading roles in national projects in areas like smart metering and electronic road charging”.

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Why energy control room operators should travel back in time: Substation control with the energy time machine

When Britain’s energy infrastructure was first established, no one could have anticipated the increased demand for power that the future would bring. To measure the performance of today’s energy supply, power distributors largely rely on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software to gather insights from each substation.

Substations generate a plethora of data, from information on energy effectiveness to the lifespan and performance of machinery inside the facility. However, the majority are unmanned. Therefore, when power supply companies identify an anomaly in data, they will send a maintenance engineer to export and analyse the information manually. However, without witnessing an error occurring in real-time, pinpointing the cause of a problem in a substation can be tedious and time-consuming, says Jürgen Resch, industry manager for energy at COPA-DATA.

Travelling back in time

Hiring an engineer to supervise the substation full-time is not a feasible option. As an alternative, energy distributors should invest in substation automation software with process recording capabilities. Process recording can serve as a time machine for maintenance engineers, allowing the software to automatically record every process that occurs in the substation. Maintenance engineers can then replay the processes at a future date.

COPA-DATA’s industrial automation software, zenon, includes a Process Recorder module designed for this purpose. The module can help engineers identify errors in data and provide diagnostics. As standard, the module continuously records all processes and saves the recordings automatically. The recorded data can then be played back in detail in zenon’s simulation mode — in a similar format to a standard media player.

In an ideal environment, process recording would be provided as standard with any SCADA or automation software used in substations. Using process recording, maintenance engineers can review every single process in the substation. Therefore, when attempting to identify an anomaly in data, engineers can use the recordings to isolate the exact moment the problem occurred.

Consider this: an energy supplier has spotted an irregularity in the data from one of its substations. Using zenon’s Process Recorder, an engineer can replay the process in which the irregularity occurred. Let’s say that the process recording software determined that the change in data coincided with a power surge in the substation. With this knowledge, the engineer can investigate the problem with a more informed approach.

Jürgen Resch

In this instance, the engineer can find the cause of the power surge. For example, a piece of operational machinery overheating would cause the cooling fan to kick in unexpectedly, creating a spike in power. Considering the ageing equipment in some substations, this wouldn’t be an unlikely occurrence. With this insight, the engineer can provide necessary maintenance to the equipment before the problem escalates, potentially preventing the machinery from failing completely in the future.

Since it was first established in the late 1800s, Britain’s energy network has endured rapid industrialisation and a colossal rise in the nation’s demands for power. The infrastructure may be ageing, but new technologies are available to ensure that the existing network can cope with new challenges.

Energy distributors have already invested in SCADA software to better […]

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Autonomous vehicles: Entertaining passengers may be the big opportunity for telecoms operators

While autonomous vehicles are gaining huge attention from all sectors, there is little assessment of what they mean for the telecoms sector. Based on a series of discussions with players in different roles in the value chain, and our own analysis, Analysys Mason believes that, while autonomous vehicles may have a transformative impact on society, their impact on the telecoms industry is likely to be modest, says Tom Rebbeck, research director, enterprise & IoT at Analysys Mason.

Autonomous cars will turn drivers into passengers, generating new demand for telecoms operators’ services

Autonomous vehicles are unlikely to rely on telecoms networks, despite the often-made association between 5G and autonomous driving: self-driving cars will depend more on on-board processing than the cloud. Real-time connectivity will be beneficial, but not essential.

Telecoms networks will be used for non-real-time updates to and from the vehicle (such as traffic information, mapping information and software updates), but bandwidth requirements for these services may be (relatively) low.

However, autonomous motoring will turn drivers into passengers, and potentially into consumers of video, gaming and audio content – all of which could generate new demand for telecoms operators’ services. The time frames for these developments this will be long: fully autonomous vehicles may not form the majority of vehicles until after 2030, depending on technology developments, regulation and consumer acceptance.

Figure 1 summarises the main opportunities for telecoms operators with autonomous cars.

Figure 1: Autonomous vehicle opportunities for operators

Autonomous cars do not need wide-area connectivity

Self-driving vehicles rely on information coming from their on-board sensors (for example, radar, lidar, optical) to navigate because cellular services cannot always be guaranteed to be reliable. Information from a wide-area connection will help supplement the on-board data, perhaps giving additional information about the actions and intentions of other vehicles, but the vehicle will never be dependent on that information.

This is essentially the way that experimental autonomous cars are working today – information from on-board sensors is combined with highly detailed (up to 10cm) maps. These maps can be updated, in non-real time, using a cellular connection (or via a Wi-Fi connection and fixed broadband).

Developments in ‘vehicle-to-everything’ (V2X) technology will not change this. The information available to the autonomous car will become richer, but will only act as a supplement to on-board systems. V2X could have other impacts though: unlike today’s experimental autonomous cars, which each act as an isolated unit, V2X technology could allow different vehicles to act in concert – for example allowing vehicle platooning or smoother traffic flows in cities.

Bandwidth requirements are hard to calculate, but may be (relatively) low

Intel created some interest by suggesting that autonomous cars will generate 4TB of data per day. However, this figure needs to be treated carefully. Based on the inputs provided by Intel, it seems this figure is based on a car driving for at least 15 hours a day – reasonable for the average self-driving Uber perhaps, but unlikely for a typical private car.

Intel’s 4TB figure must also be treated with caution because it is the amount of data that needs […]

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