Take control of Massive IoT growth

The number of cellular IoT subscriptions is forecasted to grow to 4.1 billion devices by 2024 (Ericsson Mobility report, Nov. 2018). A significant portion of this growth is expected to be Massive IoT devices that use technologies such as NB-IoT and Cat-M, are low-cost, and have long battery life.

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But how can you as a service provider capture this major opportunity and enable fast growth in this market? There are key challenges that can be addressed already today by implementing new core network capabilities.

How to address the Massive IoT market segment

IoT, and specifically Massive IoT, is a completely different business compared to mobile broadband and voice services that are currently dominating service providers' business. Mobile broadband and voice are, to a large extent, targeting the consumer market.

The IoT business segment typically addresses business-to-business, with enterprise customers in utilities, transport, agriculture, automotive business, and so on. Many IoT use cases are expected to imply subscriptions with low ARPU. Adapting to this fast-growing business requires both flexibility and cost efficiency.

Service providers typically approach the IoT business by introducing a separate organization to address the need to focus on and provide flexibility for introducing new offerings. There are also many reasons to enforce separations of concerns in their network. To fully explore business-driven operations, a Massive IoT Core network slice can be introduced. This network deployment can be optimized and evolved based on the specific business needs for IoT and to prevent having an impact on mobile broadband and voice services.

Roughly half of the service providers already are introducing network slices for Massive IoT from day 1. The IoT Core slices are deployed on virtualized or cloud-native solutions. These deployments can also provide faster service introduction to increase revenue while providing automation to decrease OPEX.

How to drive IoT growth

The real growth of IoT devices in mobile networks is, to a large extent, driven by use cases, device availability, and application development. The question is how can you as a service provider play an active role to enable and push growth in your network? A number of solutions to support growth  are provided by the Core network, such as Evolved Packet Core and the new network entity Service Capability Exposure Function.

There are key factors for growth where you can have impact: security, simplicity, ecosystem cost-efficiency, and value-added network-based information.

Security: A prerequisite for growth is proper security on several levels. Authentication and authorization enable you to control that the right application is provided access to the right network assets.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) enforcement supporting quota and throttling ensures that no application service provider is overloading your network infrastructure.  DDoS protection can be applied to prevent attacks on devices. By monitoring device behavior, you can take action to stop abusive signaling from specific devices.

Simplicity: To enable faster growth towards a larger number of devices, there is a great need for easier connection of IoT applications to the mobile network and for the development of IoT applications.

Restful APIs are introduced to replace complex telecom-based interfaces, hiding network complexity. This makes life easier for application developers, enabling faster growth of commercial IoT use cases and applications.

Ecosystem cost-efficiency: To enable positive business cases for low ARPU IoT subscriptions, it is key to enable cost-efficiency over the complete ecosystem. The key characteristics of NB-IoT and Cat-M devices—such as low cost, long battery life, and significantly enhanced coverage— contribute to cost efficiency.

Ericsson is very active in chipset/device cooperation to align their evolution and verify the interworking of the new NB-IoT/Cat-M chipsets and the Mobile Radio and Core network. In this way, device capabilities can be secured as well as securing Ericsson Radio and Core network products to be prepared for the new IoT devices introduced in your network.

An external ID is used, rather than exposing the IMSI or MS-ISDN towards external application service providers. MS-ISDNs are scarce resources for many service providers and mapping external IDs to the IMSIs reduces cost.

Value-added network-based information: IoT applications benefit from device and network status information in order to provide smart and enriched use cases. The core network can share information such as UE reachability, network connectivity status, and location info to the IoT applications in a controlled manner. This is, in fact, making information available that would otherwise not be available for IoT applications at all. With these mechanisms in the Service Capability Exposure Function, you can be in control of how your network is used and can enforce SLAs.

Are you ready?

In the paper "IoT—it's time to go big! Ericsson's Massive IoT core network is ready," we explore some of the essential core network building blocks for IoT services. We also look at the benefits of exceptional core performance and efficiency and how to protect the network from some of the potentially negative effects of huge scale through a consistently robust network response.

Download the paper and learn more about how to turn transformative new technologies such as IoT, NFV, and network slicing into hardened operations, that you, as a service provider, can deploy and trust.

Download the paper


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