Tata Communications Bets Big on Internet of Things in Utilities, Healthcare

Tata Communications is betting big on Internet of Things (IoT) usage across the country by rolling out their long-range low-power networks to support devices across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Jamshedpur. The company plans to reach 60 cities by the end of 2017 and Tier-IV cities by 2017.

IoT devices require a different kind of network access with no need for a high bandwidth but absolute intolerance to network outages. Tata Communications is keeping the IoT network separate from a high-bandwidth mobile network.

LoRa Alliance will address lower bandwidth of fewer than 50 kilobits per second (kbps) devices. They can be programmed to report in certain intervals or during distress and placed in remote places.

Semtech, which owns the LoRa patent, has licensed this design for other chip manufacturers to use. IBM, Cisco and international telecom service providers also are part of the international LoRa alliance apart from Tata Communications.

LoRa has coverage across major nations like Japan, the United States and Europe. This alliance allows cross border portability of technology. Hewlett-Packard (HP) is their platform partner apart from 40 start-ups in various roles. Wipro, Honeywell, HP and OnePlus are other members of the LoRa alliance.

“Our plan is to choose some of the applications that will be verticals but applications will also be put on platforms via partners. We are not trying to address the B2C (business-to-consumer) market. Our solution would be for an enterprise that wants to secure their employees. For example, elderly care would go in healthcare and B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) and women’s safety devices would go across the board through enterprises who want to secure their employees,” said Vice-President V S Shridhar, Tata Communications, IoT.

Last year, IDC predicted the Indian IoT manufacturing sector’s revenues to reach $4 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent.

Street light management, water quality and sewage treatment, human asset tracking, worker safety and proximity sensors are in use in locations across Jamshedpur apart from trials in major cities.

“We can also start our services in small areas without waiting for large-scale network deployment through partners, although network and platform will be rightfully controlled by us with a view to delivering a brand promised service,” he said.

The company is also keen on partnering with security, maintenance and audit solutions teams with the core enterprise security remaining under its control. HP Enterprise will continue to extend cloud support. While the core research has come from partners, Semtech and Tata communications place itself as an enabler.

“We ensure the services work and meet service-level agreement (SLAs). We are more into service enablement as an investment. Our job is to make sure the technology fits into the Indian ecosystem, ” he added.

Currently, the company is looking at network and device based revenue models that will not vary with volume. Value-addition to services in the form of certifications and security will be the revenue generators, in addition to the full stack of services from network, device, a platform to application and analytics.

Source: Business Standards