CES 2019 Recap: Exclusive Interviews With 5 IoT Leaders

IoT For All held exclusive interviews with major IoT players including AT&T, Amazon Web Services, Vodafone, Comcast, and Sony to learn more about what they envision for 2019 and beyond.

Eric Conn
Illustration: © IoT For All

CES is the place to launch new products and share your ambitious plans for emerging technologies with the world. Major IoT players including AT&T, Amazon Web Services, Vodafone, Comcast, and Sony sat down with IoT For All to provide exclusive insights into what’s on their roadmap for 2019 and beyond.

AT&T’s recent 5G deployments were center stage, and they gave us a sense of AT&T’s vision for the future of managed advanced networks and services. Vodafone IoT highlighted plans to leverage their global ties within the automotive and industrial sectors, paired with the launch of targeted 5G services, to drive new growth. Comcast gave us an exclusive look under the hood of its new Xfinity xFi Advanced Security product, which provides smart home owners with an AI-powered tool for managing security threats. Sony spoke with us about how the firm is betting on low-power and cost-effective devices to prepare for a world in which cellular low-power, wide-area networks are increasingly the norm. And AWS’s VP of IoT stressed how new products such as IoT Analytics and AppSync demonstrate AWS’s commitment to solving the problems facing IoT developers collaboratively.

Among the wild dreams and tough realities permeating the air at CES, one thing became clear: the major tech players are doubling down on IoT and associated technologies in 2019 to unlock new value for a growing list of business verticals.  

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After rolling out 5G to some 19 U.S. cities in 2018, AT&T announced multiple partnerships focused on enhanced 5G experiences. We discussed the particulars with Mobeen Khan, IoT Strategy & Product Management Executive at AT&T.

AT&T’s vision is to supply network and platform services to customers who will build the end-to-end solution, says Khan. AT&T’s flagship 5G partnerships are an example of that vision becoming a reality. Their upcoming 5G solutions include a hospital in Chicago, the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and a city-wide lighting solution with Ubicquia in Las Vegas.

As 5G deployments continue, AT&T will widen their focus from local networks for airports, stadiums, and school campuses to metropolitan wide-area networks. 5G is the perfect technology to manage that kind of bandwidth and to deliver low-latency connectivity. AT&T plans to work with these stakeholders to build out robust and reliable connectivity solutions.

“Our view is for your primary and mission-critical solutions, you need a managed network and managed services.”

—Mobeen Khan, IoT Strategy & Product Management Executive at AT&T


IoT For All sat down with Stefano Gastaut, CEO of IoT for Vodafone globally, and Ludovico Fassati, Head of IoT, Vodafone Americas, to get their latest thoughts on 5G, autonomous vehicles, and IoT trends in general. Vodafone IoT is a global organization with more than 1,500 employees, over $1B in revenue, and two primary business units: connectivity and IoT-based services.

Within the automotive sector, they provide connectivity for telemetry and infotainment. They have over 20M cars running on their platform, representing 85 percent of the top 20 automotive manufacturers. In addition to developing and deploying 5G technologies, they’re focused on solving problems that will enable cars-as-a-service such as multi-driver insurance, theft prevention, automatic emergency calls when accidents are detected (eCalls), and high-precision damage detection.

Vodafone believes that 5G services are critical to enabling the connected cars of the future by providing the vehicle-to-vehicle/vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (V2X) required to make that vision a reality. Vodafone sees 5G benefitting industrial IoT (IIoT) applications first, autonomous vehicles second, and finally the smart cities of which we all dream.

Vodafone views smart cities as a series of vertical applications with new greenfield opportunities in undeveloped areas leading the way. Vodafone’s competitive advantages lie in its sheer scale and long history in the M2M/IoT space, deep commercial and regulatory relationships within the top five countries responsible for 80 percent of industrial production (Russia, Brazil, India, Turkey, and China), and a mature end-to-end IoT platform that they completely own and manage. 


Comcast debuted its Xfinity xFi Advanced Security product at CES this year. Eric Schaefer, Senior Vice President and GM for Broadband, Automation, and Communications, gave IoT For All an exclusive look at its features.

xFi Advanced Security is a new artificial intelligence (AI) powered service that monitors, blocks, and informs consumers about online threats while providing seamless digital protection for all the WiFi connected devices in a consumer’s home. With consumers and businesses connecting smart devices to their networks in growing numbers, this product serves a burgeoning need for security in the market.

Research shows that the number of attacks against IoT devices is growing exponentially. It increased 600 percent between 2016 and 2017 alone and created new concerns for connected home users. xFi Advanced Security automatically protects any device that connects to the home’s internet through the xFi gateway. It also provides easy-to-understand guidance and even proactive responses based on the perceived threat.


We had a conversation with Brendan Schaffer, Director of Business Development for Cellular & LPWA Technologies at Sony, to discuss Sony’s vision for their IoT Division as the market grows. According to Schaffer, Sony’s value proposition lies in low power devices. They have multiple deployments nationwide that feature the lowest powered devices on the market. Because the devices are low-power, they have a better performance on cellular carriers and are more reliable than similar devices that use WiFi. As the cost curve for cellular connectivity declines, Schaffer believes the market will see an uptick in cellular devices.

Schaffer believes that in the long term cheap cellular connectivity will open new doors for connected appliances. Users will have remote access to near-real-time data, diagnostics, and predictive maintenance while their hardware receives firmware updates via cellular connectivity.

According to Shaffer, cellular connectivity also offers better security because it’s a managed service. As the world moves toward 5G, Sony is preparing for the shift in which connected cellular devices will be deployed in the field for years. They believe their technology is a step ahead of the competition.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS is leading the cloud revolution. They have been focusing on growing their IoT capabilities on many fronts, including edge processing and intelligence with IoT Greengrass, serverless computing through services like Lambda, rapid continuous integration/continuous (CI/CD) delivery tools such as CodePipeline and CodeBuild, and real-time data synchronization for visualization with AppSync.

IoT For All spent time with Dirk Didascalou, VP of IoT, and came away excited with their growing list of product offerings targeted squarely at the challenges developers face when building IoT applications. For instance, AWS’s recently announced IoT Analytics product is a fully-managed service that operates at a much higher level of abstraction and provides a scalable pipeline and framework for cleaning, storing, enriching, and analyzing IoT data. IoT data is highly unstructured, making it difficult to analyze with traditional methods and business intelligence tools. IoT Analytics automates each of the difficult steps required to analyze data from IoT devices and increases the business value of the data collected. AWS is also very active in the developer community. They have a wealth of information available through their IoT Atlas on Github.

Next, learn about how several companies at CES demonstrated the capacity of emerging technologies to benefit society

Eric Conn
Eric Conn - Managing Director, IoT For All
Entrepreneur, strategic thinker, writer, and software engineer driving the vision and direction of IoT For All. Passionate about technology, lifelong learning, and providing easily digestible, educational content to mass digital audiences.
Entrepreneur, strategic thinker, writer, and software engineer driving the vision and direction of IoT For All. Passionate about technology, lifelong learning, and providing easily digestible, educational content to mass digital audiences.