Infrastructure vendor Nokia announced it plans to provide network connectivity services to companies looking to deploy IoT services, a move that essentially positions Nokia as a global MVNO for IoT. The company confirmed to FierceWireless that it is purchasing wireless services through the wholesale departments at wireless carriers to offer the IoT connectivity, “so we will become a customer of the service providers as well as a provider to them,” said a company spokesperson.
However, Nokia declined to name the carriers from which it is purchasing wholesale network services.
Nokia last week announced its worldwide IoT network grid (WING) service, noting the offering would provide services from both cellular networks and noncellular networks like satellite.
“Nokia will offer a full service model including provisioning, operations, security, billing and dedicated enterprise customer services from key operations command centers. The company will use its own IMPACT IoT platform for device management, subscription management and analytics,” the company noted in a release.
Nokia’s new WING service is essentially a global MVNO for machine-to-machine communications. Traditional MVNOs like America Movil’s TracFone purchase wholesale wireless connectivity from the likes of Verizon and AT&T and then resell those services under their own brand, while also providing their own customer management, billing and authentication. TracFone is the nation’s largest MVNO with more than 20 million customers across the country, but there are a range of other consumer-focused MVNOs that sell phones and services to Americans.
And much like Nokia, there are few traditional MVNOs that specify the identity of their network provider or providers. In some cases, that’s because the network providers wish to remain anonymous and sometimes because the MVNOs don’t wish to muddy their branding message with the name of another company.
Nonetheless, Nokia said its approach to the MVNO space will grow the overall IoT sector by providing customers with “a global IoT connectivity and services grid with a unified view of IoT devices, subscriptions, billing and customer care.” And for participating wireless carriers, Nokia said its WING would allow them to use their excess network capacity to “serve enterprises that require near global IoT connectivity, rapidly and with little effort, to realize new revenue streams.”
Interestingly, Nokia’s acknowledgement that it could sell both cellular and noncellular IoT services paves the way for the company to add services from companies like Senet and Sigfox alongside IoT services from the likes of traditional wireless operators like AT&T and Verizon. Senet is building a LoRa-based wireless IoT network in cities across the country, while Sigfox is building its own slow-speed IoT network in countries around the globe.
For their part, both Verizon and AT&T are working to tweak their existing LTE networks to support the kinds of low-power, slow-speed IoT connections that many customers want. Indeed, AT&T just announced it will deploy its nationwide LTE-M network ahead of schedule, bumping the launch up to the second quarter of 2017, and will roll out the technology in Mexico by the end of the year as the IoT ramps up.
Nokia’s entry into network services for IoT comes at a critical time for the company. After finalizing its merger with Alcatel-Lucent, the company recently posted a fourth quarter profit of $682 million, above analyst expectations.