Starting a telecom company in the IoT field can be tricky. There are a few questions that always come to mind. What telecom company are you going to partner up with? How will your proposition look like?
The market has seen an influx in higher usage in fixed lines and mobile connectivity. With telecom providers aiming to service the demand of the customers that need Terabytes of data when the market used to need a few Gigabytes.
But the past 10-years telecom providers have noticed a booming market. The IoT market. And they are all in need of low-data connectivity. With sensor prices declining and the affordability of IoT-enabled devices becoming more accessible. It was a must for providers to rethink of the plans that where needed to service such a growing market.
And with this also came changed in the infrastructure to meet the demand. With rollouts of NB-IoT, LTE-M and 5G, they hope to be able to service this market to further meet the high demands. And provide an infrastructure that could truly benefit these IoT-enabled devices.
So which Telecom company is to partner up with?
The most important part in picking a telecom provider is to see which geographical area you want to target. With this you can then see which local providers offer an IoT type telecom service, or a low data pay-per-MB model. And then see if this provider offers the newer type bands, such as LTE-M and NB-IoT, as this will be used more frequently in the future for IoT devices.
And then you need to go over which features are in the portal so that you can monitor your lines easily, and to resell the services using their portal or building your own via an API.
When picking a portal, you must look at a few key features.
- Is the data usage real-time, and easy to monitor?
- Are you able to limit the lines using a data cap or throttle function?
- Do you have the option to create different account, sub-accounts and end-user accounts?
- Is the portal branded, or can you have the option to use it as a private label?
- Does the portal come with full API credentials?
This is the basis of what you want to look at when picking a provider that provides a management portal. If these options are given you will have more flexibility in creating a product that best fits your customer profile. And especially having real-time data usage and the options to add a cap would be great, as this gives you various options to build propositions on.
What’s next for the IoT operators?
Thinking of ways to differ yourself from everybody else is tough. The most common practice if to have the cheapest price, to make yourself more attractive to the market. But that doesn’t always work.
So, providers are now thinking of different ways to offer their management platform. Offering VPN services, private APN’s, your own server, global connectivity on one SIM, integration with their IoT software.
This makes it more interesting for the IoT devices user to pick what is important in the business aspect of it, and to apply the services into their sales model.
How do we go from here?
Setting yourself apart from the other operators is tough. But the next best thing that can be applied to services is adapting yourself to the IoT devices users and get an understanding what is important. Having the frequency bands covered is one thing, but IoT device suppliers are looking for a service that makes the complex device easier to use and combining that with the connectivity in a simple way is key to getting an advantage over the competitors. Albeit a prepaid SIM, easy to use portal, encrypted services, anything that can help the IoT supplier get an advantage of its competitors by simply adding the connectivity that the device would already need with an added service that is supplied by the provider.