Bharti Airtel looks to develop IoT ecosystem; invests in NB-IoT deployment
Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel is currently focusing on the development of internet of things applications to expand its presence in this segment, local newspaper Economic Times reported Sundi Raman, head of digital products and IoT for Airtel Business, as saying.
Raman said that India was a good market for the development of an IoT ecosystem.
The telco is also investing towards developing a nationwide NB-IoT network in the country, the executive added.
“We will always go with what the GSMA and 3GPP bodies are talking about, and NB-IoT is one of those technologies that will help. We definitely will be investing there, we are also looking into what the customers also need in terms of specific used cases,” Raman said.
In the IoT field, the company is currently focusing on three different areas, including connectivity, building applications and providing a platform for developers to build new IoT use cases.
“We believe in open telco, so we will continue investing there … India is a very good place right now to be a builder of IoT,” he added.
Airtel has already built an independent IoT vertical as part of its Airtel Business unit, which secured $1.7 billion in revenues for fiscal year 2018-19. The company is also focused on partnering with new local firms to develop applications using the IoT platform, according to Raman.
“We want to partner with providers, who can help us to fill the gaps,” Raman said.
Raman also opined that operators deploying NB-IoT networks will be able to capture growth opportunities with some of the country’s initiatives, including a smart meters project which stipulates the deployment of 250 million smart meters across India.
Rival operators are also paving the way to launch NB-IoT networks in India. Reliance Jio Infocomm expects to reach at least a billion connected IoT devices to its Internet of Things (IoT) platform within the next two years, the company’s Chairman Mukesh Ambani has said.
Ambani said that Jio expects its nationwide NB-IoT platform to be fully commercially available in January 2020.
Reliance Jio launched a pilot to trial NB-IoT technology in the city of Mumbai in 2018. The company had previously claimed that it was the only operator in India with the capability to launch a nationwide NB-IoT network.
Rival operator Vodafone Idea is also paving the way to launch commercial NB-IoT services in the Indian market. The telco has already rolled out commercial NB-IoT proof of concepts (PoC) in the cities of Kochi, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai, with the aim of lauching commercial services nationwide within the next 12 months.