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Cooperation between the public and private sectors will be key if the internet of things (IoT) ecosystem is to evolve in Latin America, senior telecoms industry executives said on Monday.
Speaking during a panel at the Futurecom Conference taking place this week in São Paulo, Brazil, executives said that governments need to adapt legislation to the new reality as IoT affects multiple industries.
The panelists all agreed that IoT is a service that is often provided on a nationwide level, meaning that operators cannot be subject to different tax legislation depending on where the service is offered. One example was the emerging area of driverless cars, which will move over the whole country.
The cost of providing IoT services was paramount in the minds of all panelists and all agreed that global standardization of equipment in the short term will be essential to ensure long-term usage and the possibility of upgrades.
"IoT needs to quickly set global standards for it to become powerful. It needs to be interoperable and available outside a particular country. And operators need to be able to work together," Richard Ullenius, VP of managed services at telecoms billing solutions provider CSG International, told BNamericas.
"The key is for that to happen now or every country will go and build their own things and then try to reengineer and connect later and that will be harder."
One of the first areas to be standardized will be the use of narrow-band LTE (NB-LTE), a 4G variant well suited for M2M communication due to low implementation cost and power efficiency. And that will need to dovetail with fixed line network coverage.
Andre Luis Moura, investment director and operational and solutions development coordinator with Brazilian telco Oi. underscored the importance of collaborating as operators and with regulators.
"Driverless cars will not be feasible with the coverage we have... you´re going to have several devices connected at the same time for driverless cars, or health services. But who pays for the network build-out and the transformation of our processes?" Moura asked.
Tarcisio Ribeiro, EVP, global sales and services at optical transport solutions provider Coriant, added that the networks need to be redesigned to be able to handle the new volume of traffic that will run over them, which is still hard to predict, which means they will need to be scalable.
A NEW MENTALITY
According to Ullenius, a change in mentality is also required on the part of the operators, which will stop being sellers of just bits and bytes but of complex services.
Where it gets complicated is when a third or fourth party is introduced in the value chain. Who at the end of the day does the customer go to when there is a failure in service? The network provider, the car or device manufacturer? Which call center do they call?
Juantxo Guibelade Folch, partner IoT with consultancy firm everis, pointed out that customers today don´t want to know about the network, just about the service, giving Uber as an example.
Luiz Tonisi, VP of sales at Nokia Brasil, said what will be required will be a single gateway or platform for the customer for the different services, be it e-health, agriculture or a home multi-media service.
"The bottleneck today is latency and bandwidth and we will need a distributed not a centralized architecture" Tonisi said.
The other issue is security. With so many moving parts, it will be easier for hackers to attack these networks, many of which will be mission critical for companies.