Monday, 13 July 2015 20:13

China way out front in deployment of Internet of Things Featured

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China way out front in deployment of Internet of Things Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly reached scale in the massive Chinese market with connectivity boosting major industries and creating a new consumer market in the country for connected vehicles, home appliances and wearables.

China’s jump to the forefront of IoT deployment has also pushed it to global leadership in the machine-to-machine (M2M), with 74 million M2M connections already, and bringing a boost to industries such as logistics, manufacturing and energy in terms of increases efficiency.

The market report from the world mobile operator industry body, GSMA, which includes insights from China’s major mobile operators China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, as well as industry experts, cites the combination of a strong economy, far-sighted government investment and international cross-sector partnerships as key factors in enabling the IoT to quickly reach scale.

“Clearly, China’s size offers economies of scale unavailable to other countries, but it’s been the government’s focused strategy, emphasis on common specifications and cross-sector collaboration that has allowed the Internet of Things to scale, delivering positive benefits to businesses and consumer alike,” Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA said.    

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai today, Sinclair said, “Connectivity is boosting major industries such as logistics, manufacturing and energy in terms of increased efficiency, but it has also created a new consumer market in areas such as connected vehicles, home appliances and wearables, putting China at the forefront of IoT deployment.”

According to GSMA, China has benefited from proactive government support in the development of the IoT with funding allocated as part of the country’s 12th Five-Year Development Plans and additional funding made available for research and development.

The association also says China has led in the development of standards, establishing an IoT standards association and promoting Chinese-developed standards internationally.

Sinclair said adoption of essential industry specifications and guidelines, such as the GSMA Embedded SIM Specification and the IoT Device Connection Efficiency Guidelines, will enable further growth and scale. As examples of progress so far, the GSMA says China’s central government has also selected 202 cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai, to pilot smart city projects to collect, store and analyse information related to transportation, electricity, public safety and environmental factors.

Backed by government support, sectors such as transportation, energy, logistics, utilities and manufacturing have all benefited from the real-time information provided by mobile connectivity to increase efficiency, lower costs and manage infrastructure, according to the GSMA.

“However, the consumer market has also experienced incredible growth, with millions of Chinese consumers now owning multiple connected devices and experiencing the IoT in their daily lives,” Sinclair said.

According to Sinclair, the wearables market in particular is a hotbed of innovation, with thousands of products available at accessible prices, including smartwatches, tracking devices and fitness bands with built-in connectivity.

On the connected car market, Sinclair says it is also growing apace, driven by the increasing availability of 4G network coverage which is providing a range of in-car services such as entertainment, navigation, safety and vehicle diagnostics.

He cites a report from Machina Research that forecasts that the number of connected devices, such as vehicle platforms, providing services within the connected car sector will increase from 16 million in 2015 to 67.8 billion in 2020 and to 130 billion by 2024, making China the world’s largest connected car market after Russia.

The GSMA also highlights that China’s leading mobile operators, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, are at the vanguard in the development of the IoT and are moving from a business-to-business focus to offering more sophisticated consumer-oriented propositions via partnerships with other companies such as automotive makers and wearables companies.

“They are also forging both domestic and international partnerships with vendors and manufacturers to bring the benefits of connectivity to a wide range of machines, vehicles and devices,” Sinclair says.

“Beyond the supply of ubiquitous, high-performance connectivity, operators are working to standardise platforms, simplify business processes and provide value-added services such as security, authentication and billing.”

To download the GSMA report click here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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