In 1982, Coca-Cola introduced the first IoT device to the world – the humble vending machine. Since then, there has been an explosion of IoT connected devices globally. By 2025, it is estimated that the total number of connected IoT devices in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region will reach 11 billion – a far cry from a solitary drinks dispenser. The region is already the largest market for IoT spending, and given the sheer size and readiness of the market to accept new technologies over recent years, there’s no sign of this slowing down.
APAC mobile operators are still grappling with how to monetise these connected devices and machine to machine (M2M) traffic. Why is this? And what can operators do to overcome it?
Most mobile operators’ systems today are simply not able to identify a device on their network as human or machine. Without this key information, they are at a disadvantage to provide the right Quality of Service (QoS) or billing model – two notable barriers to unlocking a profitable IoT revenue stream.
Machines are roamers, too
To truly get to grips with the issue, we need to understand that many of the region’s IoT devices are permanent roamers.
‘Permanent roamers’ are IoT devices with embedded global SIMs shipped from the point of manufacture to another market where they are activated and remain to send and receive data permanently. For example, a smart meter with embedded connectivity manufactured in Vietnam and shipped to Malaysia will remain a permanent roamer on the Malaysian network for the duration of its life.
The complexity surrounding access control of roaming traffic means networks have no idea whether a roamer is a person consuming YouTube on the go or a machine that just sends out a status update every week. These two types of roamers need vastly different QoS and pricing, but due to a lack of visibility and control, mobile operators often provide the same QoS to a smart meter as they do to an influencer Instagramming their trip to Bali.
Connected devices must be able to operate seamlessly across borders, especially if we are talking about managing global fleets of devices. Within local MNOs, the domestic enterprise team can sometimes see permanent roaming as a threat. Only when they cannot offer or lack the depth to provide IoT solutions to industry will they look to partner with global providers to acquire “customers” (machines or otherwise). As a result, they are limiting their ability to serve the needs of large global enterprises with multinational device fleets.
A new model – from the ground up
Big data has the solution.
Connected devices have specific traffic patterns at the communication protocol level: such as SS7, Diameter, and GTP signalling. By using advanced analytics that applies data science techniques to these real-time traffic patterns and best-in-class data visualization tools, mobile operators can help solve the identity problem and other IoT roaming challenges. Using analytics to address inbound M2M and permanent roaming detection use-cases, to deliver near real-time identification of inbound M2M/IoT subscriptions can help operators monetize M2M and IoT connections already in their network up to an accuracy of nearly 98%.
Systems like these also enable real-time surveillance of known outbound M2M/IoT subscriptions, to monitor and investigate QoS issues for deployments, as well as identify unknown outbound subscriptions, to help operators understand and control what their SIM cards are being used for on foreign networks. It also allows networks to monitor and investigate QoS issues for deployments and identify unknown outbound subscriptions, helping operators understand and control what their SIM cards are being used for on foreign networks.
These latest techniques in analytics can help operators adjust their business model and discover their full potential in the digital ecosystem; by making IoT connectivity more profitable, and reliable.
Greater insights lead to growth
With the acceleration of IoT connectivity, APAC operators need transparency and control over their roamers to reliably identify humans from machines to unlock new insights. Many MNOs are already aware of permanent machine roamers on their network.
Rather than blocking this traffic and revenue stream, operators should embrace it as the next avenue for growth. By leveraging advanced analytics, they can develop financially viable commercial strategies, thus creating a viable long-term avenue for growth through IoT.
Click here to find out more about BICS’ Advanced Analytics solution.
By Damion Rose, Senior Product Manager – Mobile Signalling & Roaming Solutions, BICS