Ericsson CTO says telcos must cash in on IoT opportunity

NICE, France--Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said the telecoms industry would be making a big mistake if it does not realise the size of what it has started in terms of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Ericsson CTO, Ulf Ewaldsson

Speaking with FierceWireless:Europe at the TM Forum Live event here, Ewaldsson said he has never seen a bigger opportunity for the telecoms industry than with IoT.

"We have clouds that are screaming for connectivity," Ewaldsson said, adding: "Industry after industry wants to bring software to their products, and they want to know who will provide their connectivity…We think it is going to transform every industry out there."

Ericsson is working with various industries on cloud strategies. Indeed, Ewaldsson took part in a panel session with Volvo on Tuesday to highlight the progress made with the Swedish automaker's connected cars. The Volvo XC90 now offers connected services based on Ericsson's cloud solution, for example.

The Swedish infrastructure vendor is also involved in a Volvo self-driving initiative planned for 2017 that will see "normal" people driving 100 completely autonomous cars on "special" roads during a test phase.

"The industry has the technology, it's about applying it," Ewaldsson said during the panel session. He noted that the biggest challenge for telcos lies in the transformation of their networks into platforms that enable other industries to realise their visions.

For Volvo CIO Klas Bendrik, the biggest challenge is roaming: "It's a big hassle," he said during Tuesday's panel session. Ewaldsson conceded that roaming is an area the mobile sector still needs to work out, noting it is less of a technology matter than a business and ecosystem challenge.

Ewaldsson also spoke of evolution within the mobile sector, saying he had never seen a greater diversity of strategies among mobile operators.

For example, at one end of the scale are operators that are interested in providing pure connectivity and not much else. "If you do that well…you could build an excellent experience," he said, citing Free Mobile in France is an example of an operator in this segment.

At the other end of the scale are operators such as Verizon and Telstra that want to go much further and provide more in-depth services based on their existing assets, including the provision and management of services.

The majority of mobile operators fall somewhere between these two extremes, and indeed form the bulk of Ericsson's customer base, Ewaldsson added.

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