Verizon expands IoT coverage to 170 countries

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Verizon's latest focus for global IoT is North America and Western Europe. (Pixabay)

Verizon Business is taking its IoT connectivity global, meaning it’s expanding its IoT coverage to 170 countries and activating global customers using eSIM technology.

Verizon has been offering IoT roaming in the past in select markets, but this new direction has it enabling permanent roaming in Canada and Western Europe, according to a company representative. It’s also allowing U.S. multinational companies to contract locally.

The global coverage offers organizations the chance to manage an array of IoT devices, including asset trackers, industrial gateways and sensors via the self-service ThingSpace platform, according to the carrier.

“The Internet of Things is changing the way businesses monitor devices and increasing the strategic business value of the data collected,” said Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin in a statement. “The number of IoT devices is growing exponentially and organizations prefer to align with a trusted technology partner who can offer the technical expertise and geo-scale they require. Our global IoT connectivity services are all underpinned by Verizon’s years of expertise and industry leading ThingSpace platform, not to mention a path to evolving into 5G Massive IoT.”

Erwin said during Verizon’s March investment day that it’s starting to see the benefit of industrial IoT investments, adding 10 million incremental machine-to-machine LTE connected devices in 2020 and delivering double-digit connections and revenue growth. This year, Verizon expects to see continued growth as it scales its IoT practice and installs devices supporting the evolution from 4G to 5G.

With the pandemic, Verizon is seeing unique demand in areas like DIY connected alarm systems and cross-border asset tracking, a representative said. Over the next few years, analysts at IDC estimate that 150,000+ IoT devices will connect every minute.

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A big motivator for Verizon in the global IoT sector appears to be rival AT&T, which spent years developing its IoT business and has offered global IoT services for a long time, including with many major car companies.

“I think predominantly they’re trying to raise the competitive bar against AT&T,” which continues to be the North American and global market leader in the cellular IoT operator space, said Andy Castonguay, VP strategic intelligence at James Brehm & Associates. The single SIM global roaming agreements “really put AT&T out in front and helped them secure a very large number of automotive contracts.”

In addition, Verizon is likely recognizing the fact that in addition to AT&T, the combined T-Mobile and Sprint represents a more capable competitor than years past.  

“That complexity is forcing everybody to reconsider their competitive strategies, but in particular, for Verizon, I think this is a move to enhance their reputation in the market for being a truly global player,” he said.  

There’s also encroachment in important ways from MVNOs and new players that are starting to offer more disruptive IoT packages of circuit boards with connectivity built in, he said, noting Kore Wireless and Blues Wireless.

“I think you’ll start to see, not just Verizon, but other MNOs start to alter their competitive stance to be much more flexible because they’re not only getting competition from each other in the operator space, but increasingly from the MVNO side,” he said.