The role of the mobile operator has evolved remarkably in recent years from being considered just a provider of mobile connectivity to establishing the foundations for the so-called fourth industrial revolution. In the current environment with the rollout of 5G networks and their socio-economic impact, operators find themselves at the forefront of providing new, innovative services that deliver far more than data connectivity.
Transformative solutions underpinned by the Internet of Things and new areas such as big data, machine learning, analytics, edge computing and even distributed ledger technologies are enabling operators to deliver value in new areas beyond connectivity that will transform industries, businesses and lives. Across the development of new platforms, applications and solutions there is an incremental revenue opportunity awaiting operators to the tune of an estimated $1.1 trillion by 2025, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Countless businesses are set to benefit from these transformational new services such as application enablement platforms that make it easier for developers to create innovative new products and services. Advanced analytics solutions which combine big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence will deliver increased productivity, reducing costs and automating business processes. For example, Malaysia’s TM ONE has introduced its Smart Traffic Analytics and Recognition System known as ‘STARS’, which can programme traffic lights to respond to real-time data collected by connected cameras and sensors. This enables cities with improved traffic flow and reduces idle time at red lights. It is helping local councils reduce traffic congestion and CO2 emissions as well as operational costs. The solution reduced traffic waiting times along the Persiaran Multimedia in Cyberjaya by more than 65%.
Over in Sri Lanka, Dialog Axiata has developed a smart grid system with its partners (LECO and the University of Moratuwa), collecting data from 3,200 smart meters and 150 network monitoring devices which enables them to analyse electricity usage and isolate any faults in its grid which delivers a better service to customers.
Telefonica has also launched its Energy Insight and Energy Optimise solutions which help organisations track and remotely manage energy usage across a building or a set of buildings, also providing building managers with data so that they can make decisions to lower energy consumption, CO2 emissions and achieve savings. Beyond optimising energy consumption and efficiency, the solution also promotes sustainability helping to reduce the impact on the environment. The solution has achieved a 12% energy-related cost saving through the implementation on their IoT automated system.
Of course, the IoT generates an enormous amount of data and key to this is extracting value from this information by combining rich data sets from multiple systems, organisations and verticals with the application of big data platforms, machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, China Mobile have worked with LinkDotter, a specialist agricultural tech firm and a strawberry producer to maximise strawberry production by harnessing IoT Big Data Solutions through a smart agriculture solution. In a competitive market where prices are sensitive to quality as well as supply and demand, the introduction of a sophisticated system that optimises water and fertiliser levels using mobile technology is delivering the best possible returns with minimal environmental impact. Subsequently, production has increased by more than 100% resulting in an uplift of 75,000kg/ha over the season compared to 33,750kg/ha via the traditional greenhouse. The solution also helped to increase profits by 75% in the first year and reduce the volume of water and fertiliser by 50% per kg of harvested strawberries, resulting in lower cost to the producer and lower environmental impact.
Operators are also leveraging the idea of distributed ledger technologies. This was famously adopted by bitcoin companies as a decentralised, peer-to-peer trust network where transactions in the form of payments could be secured without depending on a central authority. By applying the same technologies to the Internet of Things operators can support new ways of delivering products and services in this new, highly distributed, world. China Unicom, for example, has introduced a battery value tracking solution based on distributed ledger technology. The idea is to verify the residual value of each battery, which typically requires a lengthy, time-consuming and inefficient process for batteries to be removed and taken for testing. This method aims to establish a solution across multiple organisations that allows users to track usage in real-time, saving time and money.
All of these areas are ushering in new opportunities, new lines of business and new business models. They are creating a more sustainable and productive world and are enhancing the reputation of mobile operators as trusted industry partners by delivering value added services beyond connectivity. The GSMA is a strong supporter of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and this takes us a long way to helping to achieve those objectives.
To find out how mobile operators are delivering value beyond connectivity, please go to: www.gsma.com/BeyondConnectivity.