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Tata Communications grows IoT footprint

India’s Tata Communications has been shoring up its IoT capabilities through a handful of acquisitions and partnerships with telcos

India’s Tata Communications is growing its footprint in the mobility and internet of things (IoT) market, moving beyond its core portfolio of connectivity offerings.

In October 2020, it teamed up with chipmaker Micron to develop a cellular-enabled connectivity solution that will simplify global deployments of IoT devices. The tie-up comes two years after it acquired Teleena, a Netherlands-based IoT connectivity specialist.

The Micron solution will be powered by a cloud-based embedded subscriber identity module (eSIM), which offers a flexible and scalable alternative to conventional physical SIM cards. The eSIM will be secured by Micron’s Authenta key management service, a silicon-based security-as-a-service platform for edge devices.

Late last year, Tata Communications also acquired a major stake in Oasis Smart SIM Europe SAS, a French eSIM technology provider.

Andrew Yeong, vice-president and head of Asia-Pacific at Tata Communications, said eSIM technology will let enterprises connect IoT devices to cellular networks more easily while enabling them to capture, move and manage information from IoT devices through a single platform.

Yeong said major airlines and transportation companies are already engaging Tata Communications to manage IoT data around the world on a single price plan – and without incurring roaming charges. “We’ve connected their IoT devices as if they were in a single country, without the complexity of managing 200 telcos and service providers,” he added.

Notwithstanding the partnerships that Tata Communications has struck with local telcos, apart from India, it still does not have full control over the quality of last-mile connectivity, which could be spotty in remote areas where IoT devices could be deployed.

To that, Yeong said the local telcos are stepping up to the challenge as they look to globalise their offerings and that connectivity will become more pervasive as 5G roll-outs gain momentum.

Besides communications service providers like Tata Communications, cloud suppliers are also looking to tap business opportunities in IoT and edge computing through specific product offerings and tie-ups with telcos.

In Singapore, Microsoft recently teamed up with Singtel on the use of Azure Stack in the latter’s edge computing platform in a bid to support enterprise 5G use cases, including robotics and other low-latency applications.

On the competitive landscape, Yeong said there are different levels of ambition among cloud suppliers, which Tata Communications is supporting by providing direct connectivity to cloud services for its clients.

“There are cloud players that leverage our infrastructure, some will compete with us while others may work with us,” he said. “It’s an open world and we work with many of the top cloud companies to innovate in other areas.”

According to Ecosystm, a technology advisory firm, Asia-Pacific is set to be the forerunner in IoT by 2023, accounting for 48% of global spending.

Notable IoT projects across the region include the use of sensors to keep wells in remote parts of Asia flowing with clean water, tracking beer kegs in Australia and optimising port operations in Singapore.

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