Have you ever considered what happens to old and dated technologies when innovations are made, such as 5G? In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Martin Whitlock, CTO of Telenor IoT, explains network sunsetting, the process of discontinuing older technologies. This process is a natural part of the life cycle of all technologies and is necessary to improve and modernize networks. The sunsetting of mobile networks, such as 2G and 3G, is currently on the agenda for many markets. These networks are becoming outdated and cannot support the increasing demands for IoT devices and applications. However, the industry tries to approach this process in a controlled way and give a heads-up to the market where possible. This means that the sunsetting process is not sudden and abrupt but rather a gradual transition.
As Chief Technology Officer, Martin Whitlock leads Telenor Connexion’s global technology team, driving major technology-enabled initiatives as part of the company’s expanding business strategy. Martin has extensive experience in the telecom industry. Before taking on this role, he held the position of Director at Northstream, responsible for strategy assessments, sourcing projects, and change management engagements with a broad range of clients. Martin has a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management with a major in Radio Communications Systems at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.
Interested in connecting with Martin? Reach out on Linkedin!
About Telenor IoT
Telenor is a world-leading IoT connectivity provider that helps organizations of all sizes connect and operate their devices. With more than 20 years of experience and hundreds of dedicated IoT specialists, they are the largest IoT team of any Nordic IoT service provider. Their customers range from smaller companies to public sectors to enterprises with the world’s most demanding international IoT deployments. They provide a portfolio of IoT connectivity and cloud services backed by expert support in the Nordics and globally, with local representation in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. Today, they manage more than 17 million IoT connections worldwide and have unique knowledge and experience to efficiently build and operate large-scale and smaller local solutions.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(02:15) What is network sunsetting?
(03:36) Scheduled sunsets
(09:04) Challenges of 5G transformation
(10:44) Getting aligned on 5G adoption
(12:50) Biggest opportunities in IoT
– [Martin] It’s rather as an enterprise, you probably need to consider IoT or digital services where it’s it’s possible to stay competitive, otherwise, you will be run. Well, competitors will run away from you.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT for all Podcasts presented by IoT for All, the number one publication and resource for the Internet of Things. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. On today’s episode we have Martin Whitlock the CTO of Telenor IoT. They are a world leading IoT connectivity provider who helps organizations of all sizes connect and operate their devices. And we are focusing today’s conversation around network sun setting. What does it mean? When it happens, how you can prepare your IoT deployments, what you expect from future sunsets and ensure that you’re kind of in the know and prepared for those as well as challenges with 5G transformation. So fantastic episode ahead. You’ll get a lot of value out of it. But before we get into it, if you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com. That’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado please enjoy this episode of the IoT for All Podcast. Welcome Martin to the IoT for all Podcast. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Martin] Thanks for hosting me.
– [Ryan] Absolutely excited to have you. Let’s kick us off by having you give a quick introduction about yourself and the company for our audience.
– [Martin] Sure, my name is Martin Whitlock Chief Technology Officer at Telenor IoT. So representing the Telenor Group, which is one of the major telco groups in the world when it comes to the IT business and helping customers, then, of course to connect the things. Primarily, we have a focus on solving international connectivity, so goes way beyond our own footprint typically.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, yeah. Seems like from my research you have a lot of very exciting things going on in the IoT space so I’m very, very happy to have you on the show today and I’m excited to talk about some of these points around network sunsetting, challenges with 5G, things like that that I know have kind of been been discussed prior to us jumping on this recording here. But let me kick it off by asking you about network sunsetting in general. This is a topic that is come up in many conversations over the last number of months. What does it mean when a network is sunsetting? Just kind of high level, explain that for our audience.
– [Martin] Sure. I think to start, it’s important to understand that all technologies, they have the life cycles, right? And and sunsetting of mobile networks, which is on the agenda for these days. Looking back in history, we have already sunset things like the telegraphs and we have sunset and DSL to large extent in many parts of the world and so on. So these things happen and for a good course, of course, we want to have better, more modern more capable networks available. Same both with 2G, 3G now, which is reaching the end of its life cycle in many markets. It’s getting dated, basically. Cannot do all the things that we want to do. So does that mean that we asked uncontrolled shut things off from one day to the other? No, we try to as an industry and now I’m talking about this from an industry perspective, but try to have it in made in a controlled way. Give a heads up to the market where possible, but at the end of the day we’re gonna shut off some technologies and replace them others.
– [Ryan] Right, absolutely. And when we’re talking about that this this likely will air after I think the 3G sunset, but can you just for audience tell us tell them when kind of the sunsets have been kind of scheduled to take place and how they kind of a approach that?
– [Martin] There’s not an easy answer to say if you look at it from a global perspective at least, because it looks fairly different actually depending on where in the world you are. It’s not even so that they come in a certain order. I think looking at many markets in Europe, 3G sunsets will be made before or have already happened to some extent before 2G, while you see it differently, in for instance Asia, where 2G sunsets typically have happened before 3G, other markets in Africa. And so they haven’t even started to prepare for sunsets because they’re in a different pace there. So I think looks very different from different markets. US being one of the more forward leaning when it comes to sunset, both 2G and 3G. We expect the last 2G network to sunset pretty soon so. Yeah, it happens already now. It will continue to happen. 2025 timeframe is often talked about from European perspective when it comes to 2G, but it looks very different. I think that’s one of the key points to understand now going forward.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. And when it relates to the IoT space in general, what does this mean for IoT deployments that are out there and you know, if there’s deployments that are out in the field that are using 2G or 3G when this network sunset, what happens or or what should people be thinking about?
– [Martin] Yeah, unfortunately that’s also one of those, it depends type of questions because some applications which may have been run for a very long time, they might be 2G only in the device. There’s no possibility for the installed modem or hardware to handle any other technology than 2G for instance. And then of course when the last network on the market has been sunset, you don’t have an any coverage and that’s a big impact potentially for the application. If you’re relying on roaming same cord and there’s one network around, you may still have to possibility to extend a lifetime on that network. But yeah, looks a little bit different, but I think, then of course, for some other applications it might not mean that much because you have a multi-mode modem already from start and you are prepared for transition into other technologies. But once again, this is something that depends on what’s being out there. And I think the key message here now is to investigate this, do the inventory, look at the markets where you have your installed devices, try to understand the roadmaps and time plans and see what impact that will mean to you. And worst case, if it’s an application that has to continue to live, you might need to to replace some part of the hardware. That is of course a business driven decision.
– [Ryan] And then for those end customers that are utilizing these solutions, how do you kind of minimize the impact of a network sunset on them? And again, it could be one of those, like you just said, it could be, it depends type answer, but just generally speaking, are there any kind of advice or best practices that companies can follow to minimize that impact?
– [Martin] Being out in good time? I think it’s the key part here. I think some of the, some customers of ours they have already start to prepare for this. They might have maintenance windows that if it’s, for instance yeah, vehicles, something like that. When they’re brought in for maintenance, at the same time make sure to replace some kind of hardware or the modem typically then, to something that is more future proof, then maybe the impact is much less than if you have to go out and do a site visit, which is of course always more costly. Some applications are fixed and you have to go out to the field and do a site visit. But I think yeah, this really being ahead of yourself almost, prepare for a pretty long horizon, understand that this is gonna happen eventually. That’s the best way.
– [Ryan] And what happens after a sunset? How can companies kinda be prepared for what happens once a sunset is over? What does that kinda look like?
– [Martin] Obviously there’s also opportunities here with the deployment of new technologies that are more capable. I think, one of the key technologies to look at when it comes to 2G, 3G sunsets as replacement technologies or the mobile IT technologies that are being launched on top of 4G footprint now and part of the 5G era, typically LTM is maybe one of the technologies that that really has a feature parity plus I would say to both 2G and 3G, including possibilities to deep sleep modes and long battery lifetimes and high bitrates and lower latencies and all this. I mean there are a lot of good things coming out of this as well. We do deploy new technologies and being able to take advantage of that and maybe improve your application is something I believe you should consider in this transition.
– [Ryan] Right. Fantastic. Yeah, I totally agree. So I wanted to shift so we talked about 2G, 3G sun setting network, sun setting in general, what it means. So now let’s look a little bit kind of where we are now, where we’re going when it comes to 5G, kinda that 5G transformation that’s happening. What would you say if someone was to ask you what are the biggest challenges with the 5G transformation just in general from your standpoint?
– [Martin] Yeah, now remembering that I represent a business unit that has a very global perspective, I think. You can look at it from a market, one market perspective and you can then relate to what’s happening there and you can keep up, but most of our customers have a much more global perspective. They deploy their solutions and yeah, we have customers running applications in 170 markets simultaneously. And I think with a key challenge then, is this fragment, the roadmaps, depending on where you are, where we will be in a situation now for some time, where some markets will have shut off their last 2G, 3G network and go all in on 5G. While others haven’t started to rollout 5G yet. They might not even have sufficient 4G coverage to do natural. So I think this is a challenge because if you want to take the full benefit of 5G and expect to do that on a global use case, there’s gonna be a timing issue.
– [Ryan] Yeah, yeah. So basically that availability of 5G networks will very much be different from market to market, which can cause issues, especially when you’re trying to move or roll out a deployment that is across different markets where that 5G could be kind of not as consistent.
– [Martin] Exactly.
– [Ryan] So, let me ask about kind of the operator community and being really aligned on things that kind of need to happen when it comes to the 5G kind of adoption and transformation. What should be thought about on that front? How long will it take for that community to really get aligned on the things that are important, in order to make this make 5G adoption and make 5G rollout and 5G networks kind of more more available, so people can really realize the full power of it?
– [Martin] Some parts of it I think is already taking place. As I mentioned, the LTM’s run like this, its the first out so to say of the 5G era being dedicated for IT as well. I mean, networks are being rolled out, roaming is being set up, business models are are there and so on. So I think there’s more of a natural rollout of network capacity around the world that that will take place. I think when looking at the, some of the more advanced concepts of 5G where we talk about network slicing ability to have a really dedicated quality of service for remote controlled drones or these more advanced 5G use cases. I think here we still have some ground to cover as an industry to set up exactly how that’s gonna work when you have, once again global deployments or international deployments. I think on a national level it’s much more contained to the operator you discussed to, who can on its own then define the business models and the technology and according to our own roadmap. But some people want to be able to access this if it’s a remote controlled drone or whatever it is on other markets as well. And then we need both technology integrations to take place and those are not hard to find, how they will happen. Business models not there yet. So yeah, I would actually expect it to take a few years before you can expect it to be, yeah, available everywhere, let’s say.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. And let me ask a question, it’s kinda unrelated to both these topics, but as we’re into the new year, where do you kind of see the biggest opportunities when it comes to the IoT space? Where are you seeing kind of adoption focus use cases, kind of grow industries bringing kind of IoT technologies in? Is there an area that you’re really looking at or kind of focused on or excited about going into 2023
– [Ryan] Fantastic. So one thing I wanted to ask you before I let you go here is for audience out there who wants to learn more about what you’re doing, kind of follow up with any questions, discuss maybe some of the topics that we talked about here, learn more about what the company has going on, what’s the best way that they can do that?
– [Martin] Yeah, I mean obviously reaching out to our website. You can find us, if you Google Telenor IT, that’s a good start. Apart from that, I’m happy to take in contact with anybody who have more questions or follow up or if you’re an existing customer, we have a big network of account managers and all that, but on our website we have a lot of webinars ourselves, we have white papers, we have other resources available for anyone who wants to learn more. So I think that would be a good start.
– [Ryan] Awesome. Well, Martin, thank you so much for taking the time. I truly appreciate it. Great conversation, great points that you mentioned. I think these topics are super relevant, especially in 2023. So thank you again for taking the time to be on and look forward to getting this out to our audience.
– [Martin] Perfect, thank you very much.
– [Ryan] All right everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT for All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notifications, so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.