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A successful Internet of Things roll-out hinges on LTE : Dr. Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications

The market for IoT is growing rapidly around the globe. Majority of the telcos and solution providers are investing rapidly to unearth the potential of IoT. Faster bandwidth technologies such as LTE are considered to play a key connectivity role in the various applications that IoT will provide.
Realizing the market need, Aeris ventured into the Indian market recently with an aim to contribute to Digital India mission with its market proven, patented technology in the IoT and M2M space. In a recent interaction with Whitenote.in, Dr. Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications explained his views at length on the possibilities around IoT and the role LTE technology will play to drive the former.
Rishi is credited to have continually delivered sustainable revenue growth in the Internet of Things and Smart City initiatives amongst other digital transformation programs and has been conferred the ‘Digitalist Thought Leader’ Award in the Internet of Things category at the Digital Transformation Forum 2015 by SAP India.
Currently, as President – Aeris Communications, a pioneer in IoT/M2M Technology Company headquartered in the Silicon Valley, he is leading the Aeris business in the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region.
Excerpts
How do you see the role of LTE in developing of Internet of Things (IoT) applications in India?
The most critical thing for the development of concepts such as Internet of Things (IoT) or Machine to Machine (M2M) is robust telecom connectivity. Though India has been a price sensitive telecom market, its user base for mobile is increasing at an exponential rate. Today, approximately 400 million users have access to internet in India, and with the launch of Digital India Mission, we are confident that the rest of the country’s population will become the part of the digital highway as well in the next 5 years.
LTE is significantly more spectrum-efficient than 2G or 3G, and being based on IP-based architecture, it makes it ideal for IoT applications in India as transporting data over a 4G LTE network can be done at a much lower cost per bit, making it ideal for the Indian market.
For this powerful economic incentive, telecom operators in India are aggressively re-farming their 2G and 3G spectrum and moving to LTE quickly. Additionally, LTE has in built security, robust and scalable traffic management making it best suitable for IoT applications.
From technology perspective, which are the emerging LTE technology enhancements that can be leverage for widespread adoption of IoT?
It depends on case to case. There are two types of LTE technologies: LTE- machine-type communication (LTE-M) and the Narrow band LTE-M (NB-LTE-M)
Some of the key features are:
LTE- machine-type communication (LTE-M) has low-number of repetition cycles, is more energy efficient because of its extended discontinuous repetition cycle (DRX), which means the endpoint can communicate with the tower or the network on how often it will wake up to listen for the downlink.
Also for an operator, there is no additional hardware required: It works just like a normal construct of LTE networks. The operator has to only upload new baseband software onto its base stations to turn on LTE-M. Saving money on new antennas.
On the date rate, LTE-M has a higher data rate than NB-LTE-M and NB-IoT.
o Range < 11Km.
o Data rate < 1Mbps
• LTE-M is part of the 1.4 MHz block, comprised of six resource blocks
Narrow band LTE-M (NB-LTE-M) proposal is an evolution of the LTE-M cost optimizations. It is created by dedicating existing resource blocks to IoT traffic. NB-LTE-M proposes to re-farm GSM by using a single ~200 kHz resource block.
• Range < 15 Km.
• Data rate < 150 kbps
• Low implementation cost, ease-of-use, and power efficient
• NB-LTE-M is unique in that instead of using 1.4 MHz spectrum and six resource blocks, it uses only one LTE resource block.
NB-LTE-M could be deployed in 200kHz channels, compared with 1.4MHz for LTE-M, providing an alternative for applications where the transfer of large amounts of data is not necessary. Further work is in progress with 5G to improve the power efficiency and maintenance of end devices.
In short, if a project does not have a requirement of transferring high amount of data then NB-LTE-M will be a better and more economical than LTE-M.
What could be an effective IoT strategy for an enterprise adopting LTE?
There is a cut-throat competition in the market and to save and grow market share, enterprises need to explore new revenue models, provide better services and introduce products faster and with lower costs. LTE is a promising technology since it is far more efficient than 3G and extremely efficient than 2G.
For adopting LTE, we recommend Migrate, Expand and Monetized strategy for enterprises.
Migration strategy for IoT solutions to LTE – All those enterprises who are still running their IoT solutions using 2G/ 3G network would need to quickly plan to migrate to LTE network as it reduces the overall cost and provides high data rate for running IoT solutions. As a part of this adaptation, enterprises must survey and evaluate the benefits they will reap by migration to LTE network. Once benefits have been identified and management is convinced to move to LTE, a prototype must be build and tested before going to production.
Expansion strategy to incorporate New solutions and data-driven services – IoT opens a new stream of revenue and revenue enabled services for the enterprises especially Telecom Service Providers. It helps enterprises to improve, optimize services, products and processes by deducing the decision from data received from end devices. New services can be created based out of data received from end devices.
Monetize – Development of new business and revenue model using LTE-enabled connectivity will help enterprises to generate new revenue from services.
How can an IoT solution be monetized with LTE implemented SIMs?
All IoT solutions require connectivity which can be made available through LTE enabled SIMs. New business solutions can be developed helping enterprises to generate additional revenues. The connectivity based revenue also contributes to the monetization. And bottom line is that it is a volume game, higher the number of connected SIMs, higher will be the revenue.
Can you share your views on the opportunity and scope of growth provided by IoT in different sectors?
Every sector is uniquely positioned to leverage the opportunity provided by IoT. Here are how it enabled different sector through intelligent IoT
Energy and Utilities is a sector where organizations can use IoT to reduce power theft and line losses. We see large investments going into smart grid and smart energy solutions in the next 5 years, in a bid to curb rampant electricity theft, making it the largest long-term smart grid opportunity in the world.
Automotive Industry for Connected Car and analyzing the driving pattern which will drastically change the way the auxiliary service sector such as Insurance and Loan sector will function. Internet-enabled cars are now a huge market in India. By 2020, this market is poised to grow nearly six times. (IBEF-AC Nielsen)
Manufacturing Industry to track and monitor the high-cost assets. Revenue from IoT technology and services for discrete and process manufacturing in India will grow exponentially (IDC’s forecast)
Municipal councils for Smart Cities | Builder Segment – Smart Cities is going to be a big opportunity for next 5 years. Govt. of India has identified 81 solutions for smart cities. Potential business opportunity in India –
a. Smart water management
b. Smart energy
c. Smart transportation
d. Smart waste management
Agriculture Sector for water, waste-water, water quality & assets monitoring- Mobile internet-based farm extension and market information services alone could help in creating a vast business by 2025 in India.
Healthcare Sector for telemedicine, assisted care and remote coverage: India is one of the leading countries in adopting mobile healthcare with 60% adoption rate. The growth of the mobile health market will open a new big market in healthcare vertical for India by 2020.
India is a big bet as far as IoT is concerned. For digital India to happen – what are the major challenges which have yet to be tackled?
‘Digital India’ is the ‘New-Age India’ envisioned to build high-speed digital highways to unite the nation of 1.2 billion Indians, connected with technology to drive Innovation. However, for ensuring that we achieve this mission successfully, the top 6 challenges have to be dealt with seriously:
a. Connectivity reach to rural areas
b. Lower cost of devices and sensor technology
c. Low power narrow band connectivity
d. Lack of connectivity and device management standards
e. Lack of infrastructure for initiatives like Smart City
f. IoT Governance: Require high coordination among states/govt. departments
What is Aeris strategy to succeed in the IoT market?
We come with vast experience and expertise in IoT. Our strategy involves working with both telecom service providers and enterprises to enable them to provide ‘Connected’ products and services to their end users. We can help our customers’ jumpstart their IoT journey by providing End-to-end IoT Services including Platform for Operators in APAC, ME and Africa Market. We offer IoT solutions across six key vertical areas: Automotive (connected cars); Telematics Healthcare; Asset Monitoring; Smart Meters; Smart Cities
Our offerings include platform rollout and deployment across telecom service providers and IoT Platform solution to enterprises. We aspire to gain further market leadership with Telematics Platform for automotive Sector in India
Aeris has been propagating ‘reduced service delivery cost’ for IoT operators. Can you elaborate and possible share some cases to support your Company’s claim?
Aeris believes in delivering services using a revenue sharing model and has always lead by example in the space. We typically provide and manage services in a per-device-per-month revenue share model to our customers. We are working with operators like Aircel where we are charging on this model.
What is your corporate structure in India?
Aeris India is 100% subsidiary of Santa Clara-headquartered Aeris Communications Inc.