IoT market poised for battle as cable and satellite take on mobile

Over the past two years, US cable and satellite TV providers have entered the IoT market, offering business-to-business offerings as well as smart home and wearable solutions to consumers. Cox Correspondences, Comcast, and, surprisingly, satellite television supplier Dish Organizations are effectively offering types of assistance now or have plans set up.

Because they don’t actually own spectrum or licensed wireless networks, they are fundamentally different from mobile operators, the dominant player in the IoT market. However, they have additional “cards up their sleeves” that provide a route to market.

How do cable companies provide IoT services?
While cable companies offer wireless services to consumers through MNVO relationships with mobile operators, they needed a different approach to provide businesses with mobile Internet of Things services.
One of the most widely used unlicensed LPWAN types, LoRa technology, can be set up cheaply by using gateways from Comcast’s WiFi access points. Cox is remaining network-agnostic by bundling solutions that include whatever connectivity makes sense for the use case. For example, it is buying/aggregating cellular connections from various operators and bundling them with sensor hardware and device management rather than constructing a separate network.

What do they have to offer in the IoT sector?
In 2017, Comcast launched its LoRa-based MachineQ service. It is available in 15 cities in the United States, and last summer, Comcast announced three key partners: Trimble Water (for water the executives); Globe Tracker (for tracking the supply chain) and Flashnet (for smart street lights).

It recently announced five reference customers whose use cases include building management, pest control, wearables, water meter reading, and tracking. In March of 2018, Cox launched Cox2M, a service that provides Asset Management solutions for a variety of industries. It also offers 500,000 connections for automobiles that will be auctioned through its own Manheim Auto Auctions business.

Who do they offer to?
In their franchise areas, Comcast and Cox have long offered a wide range of business services to small and medium-sized businesses. They compete with big CSPs like AT&T and Verizon for wireline services like broadband and Ethernet transport, but they haven’t done much more than resell wireless plans and devices to get into the enterprise mobility market because they don’t have their own wireless networks.

However, with IoT services, they now have a new set of products to sell to their small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and may even upset the incumbent mobile operators by attracting new business customers looking for IoT solutions that are affordable.
Although it is still early days for these alternative Internet of Things (IoT) service providers, it appears that they will ultimately gain a share of what is anticipated to be a “massive” opportunity for connecting devices, products, and services to assist businesses in improving their products and processes and generating additional revenue.

However, connectivity and enhanced services like consulting, pro services, dashboards, applications, analytics, and managed services account for only about $1 billion in annual revenues for mobile operators in the United States from IoT in the short term. The cable companies and satellite providers might be able to come up with a novel strategy to break the IoT market’s revenue ceiling.

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