One of India’s two state-controlled operators, BSNL, has entered into an agreement with Aeris Communications to offer packaged IoT solutions to enterprises, SMEs, public sector bodes and other segments in India. BSNL will utilise Aeris’ IoT Services platform, which combines connectivity and device management through Aeris IoT Connectivity and Aeris AerPort and cloud-based data management and analytics through Aeris IoT Data Management and Aeris IoT Analytics. BSNL is targeting opportunities in the area of supply chain and logistics, asset tracking and monitoring and smart cities.
Cellular IoT is at a nascent stage in India. None of the country’s major operators have yet deployed cellular networks optimised for IoT: NB-IoT or LTE-M. But over the past year a number of players have increased their focus on the emerging opportunity. Earlier this month Vodafone India targeted the developer community with a start-up kit comprising free access to Vodafone’s IoT managed connectivity platform and usage of 50 IoT SIMs for six months; complimentary usage of three cloud-based business collaboration apps through Vodafone CloudStore and access to Vodafone’s Programmatic Marketing solutions: 50,000 free SMS and the opportunity to use Vodafone’s APIs.
Also this month Bharti Airtel looked to the longer-term opportunity through a partnership with SK Telecom, one of the most innovative telcos when it comes to IoT, encompassing 5G, NFV/SDN and IoT.
Last November, India’s Reliance Group, whose business assets span power, financial services, infrastructure, media and entertainment, healthcare and telecoms service, launched Unlimit, an independent unit within the group dedicated to offering IoT services to enterprises across India. It has a partnership with Cisco, enabling it to serve foreign corporates in India using the Cisco Jasper connectivity management platform in their home market, but it is also targeting domestic opportunities in automotive, finance, healthcare, industrial automation, transport and logistics, smart cities and utilities. Since the partnership with Cisco Jasper, Unlimit has also teamed up with application enablement platform provider Cumulocity, enabling it to offer a suite of additional functionalities, such as device management, data analytics and visualisation and integration with enterprise IT systems, to its customers.
As a state-owned operator, BSNL may be in a good position tap public sector and the government-led smart city programme. A challenge will be its lack of network coverage in Delhi and Mumbai, which is served by its fellow state-controlled operator MTNL.
But partnership with Aeris is a positive move for BSNL: it will benefit from the company’s broad range of platform capabilities, existing knowledge of the Indian market and experience in serving enterprises across a range of verticals, including telecoms operators such as the USA’s Sprint. Although India’s IoT opportunity is nascent, operator moves are accelerating. BSNL faces stiff competition not only from Bharti Airtel, Reliance’s Unlimit and Vodafone, but also from Tata, which has partnered with HPE to deploy a LoRaWAN network and Reliance Industries (a separate entity to Reliance Group), which is partnering with GE on the development of applications on the latter’s Predix platform and through its Jio unit has deployed a nationwide LTE network and is developing IoT capabilities across a range of verticals.