NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), India’s largest telecom operator said that conclusion of networks integration will reinforce its Internet of Things (IoT) business by helping the company tap into new areas like agriculture, leveraging erstwhile Idea Cellular’s strong rural presence.
“The company is focusing on NB-IoT (narrowband IoT) technology as it has the potential to drive mass deployment, helping to bring down cost of devices that is crucial for India,” Nick Gliddon, VIL’s chief enterprise business officer told ET.
The company, formed after the recent merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, has conducted trials in Jaipur and Kochi, and is preparing to launch its narrowband IoT services.
Gliddon said India needs to develop an entire ecosystem around IoT, including devices, network, platforms and applications. “The focus should be on how do we as India produce most of those devices and leverage software skills locally, besides operating at common standards and capabilities,” he said.
NB-IoT, he said, is a 3GPP standard and within an enterprise IoT is expected to be the new growth engine.
India’s IoT market size is expected to expand about sevenfold to $9 billion by 2020, from $1.3 billion in 2016, according to consultancy firm Deloitte.
The senior executive said VIL is already very strong in the automotive segment and also has a healthcare solution for entrepreneurs focused on rural areas.
“We will also focus on logistics and education, and have a major engagement with startups to drive innovation… wearables could another area,” said Gliddon.
However, the chief enterprise business officer said India has too many IoT devices operating at different standards, with the result that the market has fragmented further.
Bharti Airtel also plans to launch its own NB-IoT network in the country while Reliance Jio Infocomm launched a similar network earlier this year in a few metro cities including Mumbai. Jio is currently engaged with startups and its technology partner Samsung to identify new use cases.
Gliddon said that Vodafone India’s merger with Idea has helped bolster the enterprise business. The telco, he said, is identifying new enterprise clusters in the country to drive coverage and offer its enterprise and IoT services.
“We typically talk about coverage and don’t talk enough about latency. In the network, you need to have a great latency to support applications. For the Vodafone Idea network, the key focus area is going to be latency to offer better enterprise experience across the country,” he said.