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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ESB Telecoms Ltd to Work with Silver Spring Networks to Deploy National IoT Network in Ireland

ESB Telecoms Ltd to Work with Silver Spring Networks to Deploy National IoT Network in Ireland

Industry Leaders to Collaborate to Roll Out Industrial IoT Platform Leveraging Silver Spring Starfish™ Standards-Based Mesh Technology, Built on the Wi-SUN® Technology Specification.

Silver Spring Networks, Inc. today announced it has agreed to work with ESB Telecoms Ltd to develop a national Internet of Things (IoT) network across Ireland.

ESB Telecoms Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESB and operates a national open access wholesale telecommunications network throughout Ireland.

The envisioned network will serve as a catalyst for municipal, commercial and industrial customers to connect IoT and smart city applications and devices. Once the deployment of the IoT network is completed, Silver Spring’s Starfish™ platform-as-a-service (PaaS) would augment ESB Telecoms Ltd’s telecoms infrastructure and services nationally. Starfish PaaS would offer service level agreements, and be based on Silver Spring’s proven, secure, reliable, Wi-SUN® standards-based mesh technology, built on the IEEE 802.15.4g specification1.

“Many Irish cities, towns and businesses are interested in how the IoT can help create new innovative, efficient and sustainable services,” said Rory McGowan, Managing Director, ESB Telcoms Ltd. “By working with Silver Spring Networks, we believe that we’ll be able to accelerate IoT development nationally, with the high standard of reliability and service that our customers have come to expect from us. We look forward to helping Ireland become a leader through the deployment of one of the world’s first standards-based national IoT rollouts.”

“We will be honored to work with ESB Telecoms Ltd and see this as a further endorsement of the Wi-SUN mesh network protocol. Together we expect to utilize currently existing standards-based technology to accelerate deployment of massive-scale networks for devices, enabling entities to cost-effectively join the IoT revolution through our Starfish Platform-as-a-Service,” said Mike Bell, President and CEO, Silver Spring Networks.

“By its very nature, mesh technology can securely aggregate data from widely distributed endpoints – from dense urban environments to remote rural areas – and then backhaul that data through the carriers’ towers. And above all, it’s real and scalable – it has already proven itself for industrial IoT on five continents.”

As mesh-connected devices communicate with their neighbor devices, these networks are uniquely suited for delivering the robust and reliable connectivity that IoT networks require. With more than 26.7 million enabled devices delivered, Silver Spring has deployed its technology in Bristol, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dubai, Glasgow, Kolkata, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Washington, D.C.

To learn more on why mesh networks are suited for smart cities and the Internet of Important Things™:

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Report Shows IoT M&A Values Boosted by Telecoms Buyers

Report Shows IoT M&A Values Boosted by Telecoms Buyers

Race to dominate internet of things sector amid strong competition from tech firms.

The latest market report from technology M&A advisory firm, Hampleton Partners, reveals soaring deal values in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector bolstered by strong interest from telecoms investors fighting to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing market.

The IoT M&A report, which covers mergers and acquisitions in the period between July 2014 and December 2016, shows that deal values were driven by landmark deals such as Softbank’s $ 32 billion acquisition of ARM and Verizon’s $ 2.4 billion purchase of Fleetmatics, both of which topped 2016 deal tables. For the whole IoT sector, the trailing 30-month median revenue multiple rose to 4.0x, after hovering between 3.4x and 3.6x during the period.

Top acquirers

ARM and Intel tied in first place for the highest number of IoT deals, announcing five acquisitions each. Just shy of the top position is Verizon, acquiring four entities. Other active acquirers included NXP, PTC and Google, with three acquisitions each.

Out of 231 transactions in the trailing 30-month period, activity in the monitoring segment accounted for the most – 34 per cent – of all completed deals. 2H 2016 also boosted valuations in the lagging semiconductor segment which made up 20 per cent of all activity in the same period.

Semiconductor resurgence

ARM’s sale to Softbank, along with a handful of other semiconductor-related billion dollar transactions accounted for three out of the top five IoT deals. The resurgence in billion dollar deals resulted in the trailing 30-month median revenue multiple for semiconductor-related transactions making a recovery to pre-2016 levels of 3.5x.

Miro Parizek, principal partner, Hampleton Partners:

“Going forward IoT is likely to be an area of strong mergers and acquisition activity as powerful players vie for leadership in the connected world, seeking to dominate new and emerging technology markets by snapping up key enabling companies in the segment.”

About the research : The 8th bi-annual “Hampleton Partners IoT M&A Research Report, 2H 2016” covers the period from July 2014 – December 2016, using data from 451 research. Download report here

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