LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MENA, DUBAI: Mobile operators’ central role in the fledgling IoT ecosystem was questioned by Ghazi Atallah, CEO of smart city consultancy NXN, while MENA-based service providers maintained the industry had a central part to play.
“I don’t think telcos can play a role quite frankly,” Atallah (pictured, right) said: “The telcos as they are today are fit and organised to be connectivity providers, and there’s value in being an optimised connectivity provider, but it’s very difficult for them to move and be a clear player in the digital space.”
He added operators’ problems were partly due to the emerging IoT industry not playing to their strengths.
“At the end of the day it’s very difficult for large operators – fixed and mobile – to play in this domain and be laser-focused on these kinds of services. What are we trying to solve? We’re not trying to supply a device, we’re not trying to provide IoT connectivity, we’re trying to solve a problem.”
The comments were made during a panel session on smart city technology where representatives from STC and Turk Telekom highlighted the strong position operators could retain in the new ecosystem. Both also cited the increased importance of collaboration.
Gregg Rowley, VP of corporate strategy at STC (pictured, centre) highlighted the potential in government-led and B2B-focused IoT deployments, though warned work still needed to be done.
“We don’t necessarily need to believe our own marketing, we need to believe the reality of where we’re at,” he said: “In particular we need to [realise] the capabilities we need to get on board. As we did forming STC Solutions, you have to be a solutions provider and not lose track of the customer.”
Ramazan Demir president of Digital Services at Turk Telekom (pictured, left), added: “Telcos can play a role in a collaborative sense to ensure the end-to-end experience.”