We believe that the success of IoT is fundamentally tied to the way the physical and digital worlds connect. Our efforts are geared towards advancing and developing this interconnectivity, and in doing so, significantly furthering the potential of what IoT can achieve and the role networks play within that.
The desire to revolutionise the approach to connectivity comes from our experience and knowledge of the IoT ecosystem. Founded in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Onomondo’s mission has always been to redefine the capabilities of IoT networks and, consequently, to tackle the obstacles that we can see have hindered the growth of IoT over the last decade.
Key IoT barriers
The asset-heavy industries that stand to benefit the most from the proliferation of IoT technology have often encountered problems that illustrate the wider issue at hand. In the past, these industries, such as manufacturing, transport and logistics, have attempted to harness the power of IoT for more effective supply chain management, improved automation and enhanced efficiency.
Even with advances in hardware and Cloud technology, IoT connectivity remains a real issue for these industries. Being dependent on a confusing amalgamation of traditional mobile network operators and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) has seriously impeded interoperability, visibility and control of assets on a global scale.
Operator lock-in has also been a major barrier to IoT efficiency, restricting the freedom of enterprises to choose exactly which networks their devices will connect to, and limiting user flexibility in terms of balancing the quality and depth of coverage against cost-efficiency. Historically, adjusting the frequency of status updates depending on the value of cargo being tracked, for example, was simply not viable.
Having to install a physical SIM card is another good illustration of a connectivity barrier that has presented a challenge to the IoT sector over the past few years. To get an IoT project started, you would need to choose a network provider and data plan, they would send you a SIM card, and then you would insert the card into a device in order to connect to the operator.
However, you would have to physically remove the SIM card from each device and repeat the process all over again if you wanted to switch to another provider. Especially for international and enterprise-level IoT projects, this process is a huge time-drain, one that creates significant friction, unnecessary cost and prevents effective scaling. The development of eUICC SIMs has gone some way to resolve this pain point, but the commercial agreements can be equally binding through bootstrapped network profiles, and hardware still needs to be installed into each device.
Essentially, the telco architecture of today, and the complications that come with trying to navigate it, has proved to be insufficient for allowing the flexibility and control necessary for effective IoT deployment.
Away from the physical and towards the network
It’s for these reasons that we decided some fresh thinking was needed: a network-centric approach that worked for the vision of the solution, not against it. By moving the intelligence away from devices and building it into the network itself, we could ease the burden on hardware and increase end-to-end control and visibility.
To enable all this, we could see we would need to build our own core network from the ground up, with more than 700 Radio Access Network (RAN) integrations across more than 180 countries, and an API-based IoT management platform layered on top. Data can be transferred across this virtual network for processing with one of our cloud partners, which include AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM Watson.
By creating a single virtualised network, our team has engineered an innovative approach to overcoming the connectivity problems that have limited the potential of many IoT projects.
For example, Connected Cars, a telematics company developing devices to monitor car health through data, were facing many of the connectivity challenges outlined. The data from their vehicles scattered across international borders had to connect to the cloud via networks they simply had no control over, which also presented security issues as their users are required to share sensitive information. However, by transferring data across our network core, Connected Cars was able to avoid problematic operators, all while controlling huge amounts of data efficiently, gaining accurate technical insights and managing security end-to-end.
Another big cost when deploying IoT devices comes from replacing dead batteries. Therefore, reducing power consumption is key to maximising both profit and overall efficiency. This is achieved by reducing the time on-air, or the amount of data sent. By increasing the network’s role in connectivity and taking the pressure off the device, we were able to do this for the global fleet of A.P. Moller – Maersk. Moving cloud SDKs to the network led to fewer device updates, and the amount of data sent was cut by eliminating overhead on data delivery.
A further piece of the IoT connectivity puzzle is the not insignificant considerations around getting the SIM into the items to be tracked. Addressing the barriers around this has been a priority for us to enter our new SoftSIM in Q1. The SoftSIM is a 100% software solution, where the SIM profile is downloaded from the cloud by using already existing resources on IoT devices, eliminating hardware-dependency and drastically reducing deployment time. With IoT devices ever more widespread, problems have to be diagnosed rapidly in order to maintain the integrity of global projects. In these scenarios, the SoftSIM can give customers real-time performance insight and enable them to troubleshoot from anywhere.
Once it has been installed, as with a traditional sim card, the Onomondo IoT core network then gives customers total freedom to choose which network to connect to and the specific type of service they need, depending on the product being tracked. This prevents the problems of unnecessary costs or hidden lock-ins.
With the new SoftSIM downloaded, asset, utility and consumer goods monitoring can take place with fewer restrictions in terms of roaming and device lifespan, which we see as additional large steps towards our goal of increasing efficiencies across the supply chain. The virtual nature of a SoftSIM also means that customers only pay for device tracking when needed, which in turn can reduce IoT roll-out costs for customers by 50-90%, depending on fleet size.
By setting up our technology to tackle the central problems around connectivity, we hope to provide a fresh approach to IoT that can accelerate the sector towards reaching its full potential in 2023. We are committed to driving change across industries through turning disparate objects scattered across the globe into fully-functioning networks of connected Things.
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