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In part 2 of a 3-part series, MEF Mobile IoT Advisor, Andrew Parkin-White shares his takeaways from the round-table discussion on the growing IoT ecosystem and the IoT Programme at MEF held in Barcelona, discussing the roaming aspect of IoT devices and global connectivity.

International IoT connectivity is emerging as a key requirement for global enterprises

The IoT roaming market is large and growing. Mobile data roaming traffic -from consumer and IoT devices – will grow at 22% per year to 2024, according to research by Kaleido Intelligence. By this time, IoT roaming revenues will reach $5.7 billion globally. Understanding the key issues of market demand and drivers, connectivity solutions, supplier challenges and monetisation is paramount.

Watch the MEF IoT Round-table part 2

IoT roaming is scaling up for both global roaming and in-country services with growing demand from global enterprises. Lower cost connectivity solutions will drive growth from smaller enterprises. The ecosystem focus should be on capturing the value and demonstrating an attractive return on investment.

Key segments are emerging where cross-border connectivity is key and demand arises where need for coverage is greater than one operator. There are clearly some attractive verticals including aviation, transport and logistics, supply chain management, automotive, telematics, smart cities and agriculture could be the next wave for in-country roaming. Applications need technologies that are underpinned by connectivity that is always on, integrated, adaptable and cost-effective, domestically and internationally.

Having insight into user needs and developing a response from providers is critical in delivering global IoT connectivity. Today, there is global cellular coverage, but enterprises wanting IoT roaming need to work with multiple operators. MNOs have a limited footprint of markets even when striking IoT roaming deals with other MNOs but still do not provide global coverage.

MVNOs providing global footprint with widespread deals in place are meeting demand. MVNOs have the opportunity to provide IoT roaming services without the need for the enterprise to negotiate multiple roaming agreements with an MNO. Specialist segment-based MVNOs will continue to emerge with IoT roaming as their principal offering. Managing multi-county provisioning and billing is a key consideration for enterprises and real-time business analytics and intelligence for enterprises are growing in importance

There are key questions emerging on IoT global connectivity that MEF is addressing through its IoT working group. We see that roaming on newer technologies, such as NB-IoT, is questionable and technologies including LoRa and SigFox can offer infill coverage.

Device lifespan may up to ten years of more and futureproofing is necessary with sunsetting on 2G and 3G networks. This implies that the ability to migrate to a newer network is very important as is upward compatibility. There are also questions over the ability to roam on 5G networks. It may well be an afterthought in the development cycle that may affect market development.

Andrew Parkin-White

MEF Advisor  


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MWC 2020 may have been rightfully cancelled, but with many MEF Members were still in Barcelona to hold meetings, catch up with colleagues and discuss the issues facing the Global telco ecosystem, MEF created a line-up of sessions across our programmes. MEF Members – log in now to watch the presentations and download the slides.

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