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MEF Advisor Andrew Parkin-White reflects on the discussions on IoT held during ITW Atlanta, and how the market is developing.

At the 2019 International Telecom Week (ITW) in Atlanta IoT was a common topic of discussion. This might surprise some: ITW is a wholesale event and it rarely covers ‘service level applications’. In reality, the telecom world seems to profit from the wholesale aggregation opportunity of IoT traffic, and less from its service deployments. Despite some notable successes from large groups (e.g. Vodafone, Verizon, DT), telecom providers have generally struggled to live to their plans on vertical solutions and IT integration in IoT. However, carriers are enjoying the boost in traffic and were highlighting areas of concern at the event. 

MEF members active in our Mobile IoT Workgroup have already been discussing these same topics: security and roaming are emerging as critical for further development in IoT. Among the announcements from ITW, we report from NTT and their focus on security and the call from DT for a collaborative approach and review of IoT roaming.

NTT Communication: becoming a Security Provider

Firstly, we saw positioning of telcos as ‘Security Providers’ not just simple Connectivity Providers. NTT Communication was clearly using the words “new telco role” referring to security. In particular NTT is to focus on combating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS) and IoT security attacks.

But NTT also reports that threats are much more widespread and operators and other value chain players have to collaborate with each other to address these threats.

The IoT applications ecosystem needs to act on security and roaming issues to advance the development of the market.

The concept of security in telecom networks for IoT traffic is now wider, it is not enough to secure one single network but cross networks, applications and devices. The lessons from past experience continue to echo. In 2016, much of the Internet in the USA was brought to a halt  temporarily because of the Mirai malware; this was seeking poorly secured IoT devices and infecting them to create an army of cyber robots.

This unfortunate incident shows how end-to-end security is a much more challenging nowadays: networks, devices, and cloud services are all connected.

IoT roaming evolution: DT Global carrier wants standardised QoS for IoT

Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier said that “The booming IoT market needs strong security solutions and superior connectivity for future growth”.

But Nafziger also calls for a new collaborative spirit across the industry: “To satisfy the challenges and demands of IoT in an international context, however, carriers need to work closer together

What we are proposing are standardized quality-of-service (QoS) parameters that are synchronized between carriers, between carriers and their IPX providers, and between IPX providers. Although the GSMA has done considerable work in implementing the Global Roaming Quality (GRQ) framework, laid out in their BA.51 Roaming SLA Handbook, we believe it could further be extended to the IPX area. This will only be possible if we move further forward together as an industry.”

DT also presented its Regional Packet Gateway for IoT routing transcontinental data roaming traffic locally instead of back to the originating home network. This goes against the traditional mobile data architecture flow, but it gives a low packet latency and high-volume throughput necessary for some mission-critical IoT scenarios.

The IoT applications ecosystem needs to act on security and roaming issues to advance the development of the market. To join the discussion at MEF please write to

Andrew Parkin-White

MEF Advisor