Safder Nazir, regional vice president -smart city & IoT at Huawei technology speaks to CommsMEA about how the ROADS concept can ensure that telcos retain their competitive edge.
The IoT is a trending topic in today's world and its influence might soon overtake the global impact of its predecessor, the mobile internet. 2025 will see a predicted 100 billion connections, 6.5 billion internet users, and 8 billion smartphones.
By then, the world will be interconnected to an unprecedented degree of closeness, and people will enter a fully connected age. Full connection will give people a better digital life and enterprises immense business benefits. However, unless organisations are well prepared for this wave, they can't really make the most out of it.
Nazir tells us that as the enabler of smart services in many verticals, this year at the IoTx Dubai 2016, Huawei showcased a number of IoT solutions that support the region’s ongoing smart city adoption initiatives. These included the newly launched connected cities lighting solution that was first announced at CeBIT 2016 in Germany. The solution connects street lighting to a city’s network and uses a GIS-based management system, enabling city’s utility management to enhance the control and performance of every street.
Prepared for the hyper connected world
There are several possible challenges that a better connected world can pose. “Change is not a seamless process, ”remarks Nazir. “One of these challenges that we as an industry regularly discuss is the threat of cyber security. We at Huawei are working alongside numerous partners in addition to our own R&D to achieve a coordinated approach to cyber security. Another key challenge we have already begun to address is how we understand and identify the connections that are value adding in the era of IoT. It is easy to just want to connect everything to everything else, but that is not the point of a better connected enterprise, city, or world – the value of that connectedness will only be realised once we start determining what value that connectivity provides to the collective whole.”
Nazir further highlights how Huawei has employed around 2,000 R&D experts just in the IoT space alone. “That includes 300 experts in Huawei LiteOS, 400 in fixed access, 400 in wireless access, 600 in IoT management platforms, 200 in solutions, and 100 in industry cooperation and standardisation.”
Brew in Huawei’s IoT cup
During this year’s IoTx, Huawei formalised its partnership with Landis+Gyr AG. Based on Huawei’s Hi-PLC module and Landis+Gyr’s E350 modular electricity meter, this partnership will see the development of a smart power metering solution for specific utility initiatives in the Middle East.
Moreover, Huawei is working with Etisalat to bring a Smart Parking solution through Narrow Band IoT technology. “NB-IoT is the proposed 4.5G standard technology that brings considerable advantages to mobile operators building their LPWA networks when it comes to deployment, operation and re-usability of existing processes, IT and infrastructure assets.”
It takes two to tango
The importance of strategic partnerships for innovation in smart city space is unrivalled. This year Huawei announced the proof of concept and design for an all-inclusive network architecture for the Etisalat regional cloud factory. “Once developed, the enterprise solutions provided by cloud factory will be offered to businesses across Etisalat’s regional footprint. Etisalat is among several regional partners that Huawei is supporting to roll out such capability. We are also working with Zain Saudi, Zain Kuwait and STC Saudi Arabia to allow them to provide their customers with more innovative products,” Nazir tells us.
Telcos that evolve will thrive
The rapid evolution of the internet into a primarily mobile platform has significantly changed user behavior. They now expect digital services to be seamlessly available anytime, anywhere and on any device. “As a result, Huawei believes that telco service providers must be able to deliver on the ‘ROADS’ experience to stay competitive – meaning their services must be real-time, on-demand, all-online, do it yourself, and social.”
Nazir adds, “For business to capitalise on what IoT has to offer, they must undergo a digital transformation that is supported by telecom providers who remain the engine for advancement and modernisation.”