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Huawei Urges Operators Not To Waste IoT Opportunity

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Huawei sets out mobile broadband vision, but says telcos and industry must work together to reap the benefits of IoT

Huawei has urged the mobile industry to work together to fulfil the opportunity presented by the Internet of Things (IoT) and improve service quality and affordability for mobile broadband users.

Speaking at the firm’s Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Hong Kong, rotating CEO Ken Hu said he expected the company’s equipment to support 6.7 billion users by 2020, offering speeds of up to 1Gbps, and 1 billion IoT connections.

Much of the conference has focused on 4.5G, the path to 5G and how operators move from connecting people to machines. But Hu said there was much to do if the ambitions of its ‘2020 vision’ for mobile broadband were to be achieved.

Mobile broadband era

Huawei MBBF (1)“We are standing at the beginning of a great era,” he said. “This the mobile era in which mobile technology is changing the world faster than ever before.”

“Connecting people is still our top priority. We need to focus on bridging the digital divide and delivering a great user experience.

“Unfortunately most of [those not connected to mobile broadband] live in developing countries. These people lack access to better education and opportunity. This is widening the digital divide and limiting growth around the world. Digital communication can bridge this. We will focus on affordability and availability of the service.”

Hu discussed the concept of a ‘user-centric’ network assessed by experience-based criteria alongside more traditional network metrics, but Huawei is already looking beyond connecting people to machines.

Internet of Things

“[IoT] is a huge opportunity for mobile industry,” he said, arguing that the requirements of M2M necessitated ubiquitous network connectivity, handing operators a huge advantage as all industries digitise. However he warned that standardisation and development must be accelerated if telcos are not to cede their advantage to other “rapidly evolving” technologies like SIGFOX, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

“We believe as an industry, we need to speed up the process of making narrow band IoT the industry standard. IoT will create a huge number of connections but if managed in the traditional way, these [methods] will be unacceptable.

“We believe if we can lower the cost [of connection] to $1 … it will lead to explosive growth. I believe the IoT market will be more fragmented than the traditional telecoms market because of the large number of use cases.”

“We need to act now to open up this new blue ocean.”

Huawei held its first developer conference earlier this year, attracting 2,000 software creators, and has launched a £650 million fund.

“In the IoT era we need to expand our focus to managing technology and networks to the whole ecosystem,” added Hu.

The company is throwing its weight behind the Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) as an industry standard form of M2M connectivity, but is growing impatient at how long the process is taking – a sentiment shared by Vodafone, which also told the MBBF of its frustrations.

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