COVID-19 has clearly marked an inflection point for cellular IoT, a feat that was reached with reduced complexity as a result of the GSMA’s standardization of the eSIM.
The COVID-19 disruption to all industries will require IoT to enable business continuity, remote monitoring, and automation. Companies will need to adapt business models to remain operational in our rapidly changing society. This means adopting technology that supports automation and reliable connectivity. Business continuity now requires security, provisioning, throughput, and latency––key features of cellular IoT in particular. By using homogenous solutions, testing time can be reduced, and cost management becomes simpler. Cellular connectivity can be leveraged for various types of deployment with low cost and complexity in mind.
The module landscape has also become far more competitive in pricing and technology, making cellular IoT deployments simpler and more affordable. For Mobile Network Operators, System Integrators, Enterprises, and OEMs, this means that the hardware required for cellular IoT can support global deployments on a single SKU.
How To Manage Devices Globally
The question remains: how do you manage a large number of devices globally? This is the new challenge that needs to be addressed by the industry. As all these devices are deployed globally, how do you streamline the management and seamlessly transition between eUICC profiles?
Currently, cellular IoT roaming is where the bulk of M2M traffic sits. There was a time when IoT roaming was “grey” traffic, but this has become a key negotiation point between MNOs. The industry embraces this roaming solution as it enables a single pane of glass billing and enables the operator to retain customers, even as devices go outside of their network. However, you cannot rely on roaming for long term deployments as they are negotiated annually and canceled anytime. There could also be contractual obligations between operators that limit the amount of IoT traffic that can be sent transparently. Also, some countries forbid IoT roaming and make localization or the use of local profiles mandatory.
Solutions exist that allow MNOs to retain customers and create the same experiences as cellular IoT roaming while localizing the eUICC to enable transparent long term sustainable IoT connectivity. This is done by utilizing affiliate roaming and local profiles.
Using Exchange Hubs to Reduce Complexity
When MNOs connect to an exchange hub, exchanging IMSIs can comply with roaming agreements and local regulations. This allows for mediation between MNOs at the signaling level. It also acts as a clearinghouse for IMSIs so that members can have direct commercial agreements with one another. This enables the localization of eUICC profiles without having to do heavy API integrations with MNOs.
Connecting to a hub allows MNOs to simplify operations for customers through centralized management and enable roaming partners to transparently send IoT traffic. With complete control over devices, profiles, and configurations, connecting to the right hub can help MNOs support global IoT deployments.
Expectations for Cellular IoT in the Near Future
Business priorities will shift as it becomes a universal necessity to ensure secure IoT connectivity for all operations and systems. The infrastructure that enables this has been recently adopted around the world. This allows us to stay more connected than ever imagined possible during a pandemic, but our work here isn’t done.
The need for secure and reliable connectivity is at an all-time high, creating a surge in solutions and infrastructure that allows society to become more cohesive and reliable. The forecast is a surge in cellular IoT infrastructure and the adoption of exchange hubs, with a spike in innovation to meet the world’s changing landscape.