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Brazil should concentrate on strengthening the application developer community and build the layer connecting internet of things (IoT) hardware and software, industry experts said on Tuesday.
Speaking on a panel at the Futurecom ICT conference taking place in São Paulo this week, Leonardo Capdeville, CTO of Brazilian telco TIM said that the "big winners" in the IoT revolution will be those that can develop the middleware - which is the software that serves as interface connecting sensors and other types of hardware that is normally not connected.
"In terms of standardization, Brazil should pay special attention to developing something that facilitates the connectivity of hardware and software," Capdeville said.
This was seconded by Dimitri Diliani, Nokia's Latin America VP.
"In the network the most important part will be the application layer...We will focus on interoperability and connecting new sensors, on device management and NFV. Everything will be controlled by software from now on."
"We need to open up the environment to developers to encourage build out of the application layer," Diliani said.
THE DINOSUARS WERE EXTINCT
IoT has been one of the central themes of Futurecom this year and both the public and private sectors have been in agreement in terms of the potential opportunities.
But operators have raised more points about the challenges to IoT, in particular, the need for regulation to allow networks to adapt to new requirements, the need for standardization of devices and greater cooperation amongst the main stakeholders.
Operators are still smarting from their experience with over the top players, where their networks were used for others to make money and they now want to ensure they get a slice of the pie.
Oi's network technology and systems director Pedro Falcao warned that it is important not to make the same mistakes of the past.
"There is an opportunity for operators to monetize information and data traffic. The dinosaurs were extinct. We need to decide who will be our partners in this new ecosystem," Falcao said.
The executive underscored the importance of bolstering fixed as well as mobile networks, given that a lot of data will run via Wi-Fi.
Ericsson's Latin America president Sergio Quiroga, added that all mobile networks from 2G to 4G can be used for IoT but in terms of coverage, operators are only 50% of the way there.
DATA FOR WHAT?
The information that can be gleaned from connecting devices and how that can be used to boost productivity is key.
Carlos Kokron, Latin America VP with Qualcomm, pointed out that Brazil is one of the largest food exporters in the world and there are massive opportunities for "precision agriculture" - and efficiencies in terms of water purification and logistics.
Qualcomm is currently developing algorithms for precision agriculture using old and pervasive technologies such as Bluetooth and SMS.
The need for private sector incentives such as tax breaks for developing IoT has been one of the major gripes of the private sector at the conference so far.
Responding to this, Jose Gontijo, director of industry, science and technology at the technology and communications ministry, called for collaboration with the private sector to draw up regulation.
"Studies suggest that revenues increase when we lower taxes. But we need to do it in a controlled manner," Gontijo said, though he recognized the speed with which IoT would take off, if the adoption of smartphones was anything to go by.