Airtel launches 5G-ready IoT platform to drive enterprise businessNEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has launched its 5G-ready Internet of Things (IoT) platform with the capability to connect and manage “billions of devices and applications” as the company further looks to build its enterprise business in the country.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco is targeting automobiles, manufacturing, BFSI utility and industry 4.0 verticals to drive growth for its IoT platform and the IoT business as a whole.

Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO – Airtel Business told ET that there are companies that are going for larger automation post covid and the company sees huge opportunity. “We have got MG Motor, Pine Labs, Paytm, Kirloskar, BSES, Genus, and Kent among other businesses on board. They are already using Airtel’s IoT solutions.”

The company’s new platform will support the 5G network in future and it already supports 2G and 4G along with narrowband-IoT networks.

“it is quite a large market…Airtel being the largest b2b player with largest share, we will be able to capture substantial share due to network and customer strength. We have deeper knowledge and understanding in this space,” Chitkara added.

India’s cellular connectivity based IoT market is forecasted to grow to Rs 10,000 crore by 2022, driven by connected cars and appliances, Smart factories and utilities, and other use cases.

“NB-IoT network readiness is available across the country. Depending upon where we are activating the customer, we are activating NBIoT network accordingly,” he said.

Airtel has built this platform in house. Chitkara said that the telco has a complete digital ecosystem which has been built internally over the last few years. “We have built a strong capability on the digital side and a very strong talent pool to support the IoT business.”

IoT is a large ecosystem play and there are specialized players in the market. Chitkara said that there is a lot of innovation taking place already. “We want to encourage innovation.”

Airtel is aiming to create a complete ecosystem through collaboration with startups and other ecosystem players. “We will invite them to come on this platform and build solutions which can solve specific use cases,” Chitkara said, adding that these players can build new solutions on top of Airtel’s IoT platform.

“We can jointly develop solutions and pilot them before commercial adoption,” he added.

Airtel Business is the largest player in India’s B2B connectivity space and serves over 2500 large enterprises as well as one million medium and small enterprises, including startups. The company offers connectivity, data center, IoT, IQ platform and cloud & security. “All new initiatives under these businesses are growing at an accelerated speed,” he added.

“Enterprises have three key requirements for IoT. First, connectivity solutions that future proof their device and application investments. Second, the security of their data. And third, seamless integration with existing IT systems to make the IoT data actionable. Airtel IoT is built on these insights to massively simplify the IoT journeys of enterprises,” Chitakra added.

Bharti Enterprises on Wednesday said that it will form a joint venture with Dixon to manufacture set-top boxes, routers and networking devices, including IoT devices.

“We have a larger plan on the device ecosystem, which is being prepared,” he added.

Vodafone Idea, which rebranded into Vi, recently said that it expects to maintain its market share of 54% in the telco IoT connectivity space, which is expected to grow 10 times. It also expects to garner 10-12% market share in non-connectivity IoT space.

VIL recently said that it was on track for testing of its narrowband IoT or NBIoT network in India. It is doing small scale proof of concepts and are investing much of our time in that direction.




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