IoT Policy in Europe: Keeping it Simple

Today, AT&T has more than 26 million devices connected to its network.


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The Industrial Internet of Things. Industry 4.0. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Whatever you may call this next wave of mobile connectivity, there are endless possibilities for the Internet of Things (IoT).

An estimated 50 billion “things,” ranging from sensors in cars and traffic lights to utility meters and household appliances will be connecting to the Internet by 2020. Today, AT&T has more than 26 million devices connected to our network. Our customers are using IoT to cut costs, grow revenues, boost efficiency and satisfy customers.

One thing we’ve learned as a leader in driving this technology, is the importance of its simplicity. Of making it efficient and easy for our customers to use and deploy. Economies of scale are extremely important when you’re connecting over 280,000 shipping containers across the globe. Or millions of cars from the U.S. to Europe. You want one Global SIM that connects in 200+ countries and territories – not one for each country or region. With a single interface that gives you access to the device.

Simplicity is not always easy to ensure when it comes to IoT regulatory frameworks – especially in an industry that’s been around for 140 years. Regulation can have unintended consequences when applied to new IoT business models. Issues such as how we assign numbers to an IoT device and its SIM to keep it connected.

Global IoT services work best with the extra-territorial use of numbering resources. That is to say, countries allow IoT devices to use their numbering resources outside their national territories, as well as allowing the use of foreign numbering codes within their national territories. Under this plan, providers continue to compete with each other to deliver international IoT roaming platforms. It avoids a fragmented distribution model for businesses. And, national regulators retain oversight.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) released its report on “Enabling the Internet of Things” recently and concluded:

“From a cost-benefit perspective, BEREC believes that the introduction of a European numbering scheme does not seem to carry any significant benefits which would justify the deployment costs of setting up such a solution. Instead, BEREC considers that the use of existing numbering resources – the extraterritorial use of numbers and the use of ITU numbers – seems to be a reasonable approach.”

We applaud BEREC for its thorough review of this issue and for advocating for this policy across Europe. This also follows policy proposals by Belgian regulator, BIPT, and German regulator, BNetzA to allow extra-territorial use of national numbers for machine-to-machine services.

Earlier this year, AT&T created a new report to share how businesses can best use IoT. It notes 85% of global organizations are considering or exploring an IoT strategy. The flexibility shown by BEREC, BIPT, BNetzA and other European regulators on policy issues such as numbering will only drive this investment in IoT. That’s good news for Europe businesses and consumers. And we all know that we need good news in this period of time.

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