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Telefonica sees smart city, e-health as drivers for IoT growth

Telefonica CTO talks NB-IoT, LTE-M, smart city deployments, and notes, “5G will be triggered by IoT

SHANGHAI–Spanish telecoms group Telefonica is seeing growing opportunities in a number of specific IoT uses cases in the domestic market including smart cities and e-health, among others, the operator’s global CTO Enrique Blanco told reporters on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress Shanghai.

“What I can say is that we are just starting with IoT. This will be exploit at same point. We do not know exactly when this will happen but we need to be ready from the technological side,” he said.

In Spain, the telco has been involved in a growing number of smart city projects at both the regional and municipal levels. Telefónica has been working in the implementation of smart city initiatives in cities including Santander, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Malaga, Logroño, Seville and Valencia.

Smart Santander was a pioneering project for Telefónica in Spain. As a result of this smart city project Santander was able to deploy a number of smart city services such as smart parking, environmental monitoring, smart irrigation, smart metering, and traffic monitoring.

The executive said that the operator is currently offering services for IoT use cases through NB-IoT connectivity, but also highlighted that the firm is technically ready to offer IoT services through LTE-M technology. “I am fully convinced that 5G will be triggered by IoT. What we need to guarantee is that we can fully offer NB-IoT and LTE-M across our 4G perimeter,” Blanco added.

The executive also said that the telco will need to start offering IoT services through “pure” 5G technologies once the densification of the devices connected reaches a point where it is not possible to fully support with the radio capabilities that you have. “However, we are still far from this point,” the executive said.

Blanco also highlighted that Telefonica is seeing increasing opportunities for the deployment of smart meters for utilities in the U.K market.

In 2013, Telefónica’s UK arm had been selected as the connectivity provider for the UK’s smart meter implementation program in two of the project’s three regions. Under the terms of this contract, Telefonica will provide service in the Central and Southern regions for the smart meters initiative. The smart meter implementation program involves the deployment of 53 million smart utility meters across the U.K by 2020.

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