Some Wild Weeks for Mobility

Summary Bullets:

• There are some weeks, arguably some quarters, where few substantive announcements are made about mobility solutions, including enterprise mobility services (as opposed to 5G rollouts) and IoT. In the last two weeks, announcements from Ericsson, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon show a robust and dynamic industry.

• These launches were diverse: Verizon’s continuing MEC rollout and new reference customers, AT&T’s 5G win with the Air Force, AT&T’s Microsoft Azure Sphere-powered IoT connectivity offering, Ericsson’s acquisition of Cradlepoint, and T-Mobile’s new Magenta for Business price plans all show that opportunities in mobility and IoT are alive and well.

Enterprise mobility has often seemed like a sedate market, because smartphones and tablets are so baked in to the communications arsenals of enterprises; new, innovative offerings from the ecosystem are few and far between as every flavor of managed mobility seems to already be available. Even IoT, which is still considered a huge growth opportunity, has suffered from being put in the “enabler” category, with providers worrying about flat revenues and being reticent to introduce new capabilities as they wait for 5G to bring it back into the light via “massive” connectivity requirements.

The last two weeks proves that this viewpoint is flawed – there are still a lot of ways to make mobility and IoT easier to use, less expensive to manage and operate, and more innovative both now and as 5G and edge up the ante. Here is a brief synopsis of these five announcements in order of appearance.

Ericsson (September 18) – Ericsson announced its intent to acquire Cradlepoint, a U.S.-based provider of wireless edge WAN solutions based on LTE and 5G. The company, with 650 employees, has 20,000 customers with a diverse range of use cases, including public safety (e.g., mobile devices for first responders) and retail (e.g., connected vending machines). It also has 1,500 channel partners. This means that Ericsson is accelerating its presence in the enterprise solutions market via cellular IoT. The vendor also implied that it would let Cradlepoint maintain its existing combo of direct and channel strategies in the U.S., while providing its solutions through operator customers globally.

T-Mobile (September 22) – T-Mobile is launching Magenta for Business plans with Microsoft 365 included (dubbed “Microsoft on Us”) at no extra charge on up to two lines per account. T-Mobile has also upgraded its 7,000-plus retail stores to cater to the needs of small businesses and more than doubled the size of its team of specially trained experts dedicated to helping business customers. What this overtly shows is the renewed focus on T-Mobile’s aims to court SMBs and lure them away from rivals.

AT&T (September 22) – AT&T announced a solution built on AT&T’s global cellular network and Microsoft Azure Sphere which enables secure and effortless deployment of IoT worldwide. It uses a “guardian” device to provide an end-to-end solution for connecting machines and equipment to the cloud, bypassing the need for public Internet, with fast and highly secure activation right out of the box. Aimed at smaller companies, the ability to make IoT easy to use and deploy remains a big opportunity.

Verizon (September 22) – Businesses and developers can build applications with AWS Wavelength at Verizon’s 5G Edge in three new locations: Atlanta, New York, and Washington, DC. New reference customers were also noted: Zixi’s Software-Defined Video Platform enables live broadcast-quality video delivery. The company is testing how a major broadcaster’s 4K live broadcast feed can be delivered over 5G to distribute live streams across broadcast media workflows with super-low latency. YBVR is building a next-generation VR video platform, testing how it can utilize 5G and Wavelength to stream live 8K Ultra HD video to sports fans and concert goers with personalized experiences. CrowdVision is testing how 5G and AWS Wavelength can provide the throughput and low latency needed to help detect pedestrian movements using video or LiDAR and AI to provide live data about everything from crowd congestion to traffic flows, queues and wait times.

AT&T (September 23) – AT&T will bring 5G and a broad array of Networking-as-a-Service capabilities to support the work of more than 24,000 military personnel on U.S. Air Force bases including Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. This is a solid 5G win with the potential for some fascinating use cases to transform and modernize air force networking infrastructure to support air, land, and cyber operations.

For those of us that cover mobility and IoT the last two weeks have been a heartening experience as we happily acknowledge that there remain plenty of new opportunities ahead.


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