Operator success is closely linked to network robustness and convergence when investing in smart cities, says a new report by Pyramid Research.
The report highlights that in most cases operators have not invested significantly in dedicated smart city resources, but rather offer a range of services that can contribute elements of smart city projects. “Operators will leverage their connectivity assets needed in order to provide smart city services, such as cellular, xDSL, Ethernet, fibre optics and WiFi networks,” says Daniel Ramos, senior analyst at Pyramid Research.
Higher-capacity and wider-coverage converged networks are an early requirement of many smart city projects and those operators that boast robust fixed and wireless network assets and a strong position in the business market have a clear advantage, states Pyramid Research.
The development of a standardised value chain across different smart cities is nearly impossible, given the individual requirements of cities in terms of size, priorities and degree of centralisation.
“By their nature, smart city projects are complex, long term and unique, with many stakeholders and a variety of business models. The smart city opportunity is therefore unpredictable, competitive and limited to operators with exposure to the business market,” explains Ozgur Aytar, research director at Pyramid Research.
Smart cities offer new revenue streams for operators in maturing markets, but a less risky approach is to address various verticals that are attractive in themselves on a nationwide basis which can also form part of a broader smart city project.
“There is an opportunity for operators to become an indispensable partner in smart city projects by providing IoT or M2M platforms in partnership with technology vendors, for example by providing fleet tracking services tailored to the needs of emergency services,” Ramos adds.
“Operators in the region already have smart city objectives in place; and, as citizens turn smart, so will the cities they inhabit,” says Teemu Salmi, vice president and head of operations at Ericsson, region Middle East.
As Salmi explains, the Middle East have already developed different smart city projects to achieve sustainable smart cities in the region. Naser Abdul Latif Bin Hammad, senior manager, international affairs, corporate development-director general office at the UAE TRA, and UAE TRA representative at the ITU, explains to CommsMEA that the ITU is encouraging the Arab states to embrace smart cities.
“In 2014, during the World Telecommunication Development Conference, this organisation [ITU] developed a global roadmap to promote broadband for sustainable development. The UAE was one of the supporters of this initiative and developing this road map for smart cities for the Arab region is a step forward. The ITU is also working with Dubai in order to transform global smart cities,” he added.