Verizon to start selling ‘IoT Fast Track’ advisory service to small businesses in Q1

The entrance of Verizon's new Policy and Technology center
The entrance of Verizon's new Technology and Policy center features a condensed history of the internet.

DALLAS—Verizon soon plans to begin targeting small business owners with its IoT services via the upcoming launch of its “IoT Fast Track” service. The $15,000 service essentially pairs small business owners who have IoT ambitions with internal Verizon consultants who can help them develop the details of their business plans.

Faraz Shafiq, associate managing director of the Global IoT Practice at Verizon Enterprise, announced the new service here at the 5G North America conference. He said the service would launch commercially in the first quarter of next year.

Shafiq clarified that Verizon’s IoT Fast Track offering would not specifically require customers to purchase Verizon network services for their IoT offerings. Instead, he said the service would only provide small businesses with all the details they would need to launch IoT services, including information on what technologies and suppliers they might need and what kinds of costs they can expect.

Not surprisingly though, Shafiq did add that Verizon would sell the business model plans as “implementation ready,” meaning that customers who did choose to use Verizon’s network to offer their IoT services would largely be ready to go as soon as they wanted.

Shafiq also noted that Verizon’s IoT Fast Track service is specifically targeted at small business owners rather than larger, multinational companies like auto makers that typically engage in cellular-based IoT offerings. The goal of Verizon’s IoT offering is to expand the company’s addressable market for its IoT services.

And Verizon has made no secret of its desire to build its IoT business. “The rapidly evolving Internet of Things market provides us with new business opportunities for our customers globally,” outgoing Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said during Verizon’s recent quarterly conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the event. The company said its IoT business, which spans smart cities, telematics, ThingSpace and other products, grew 24 percent year-over-year to $217 million.

On ThingSpace specifically, Verizon launched the platform last year to make it easier for developers and others to build for and use the IoT. The platform integrates IoT services ranging from LTE to Wi-Fi, and allows customers to collect and analyze their IoT data.

Indeed, Verizon's recent "State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016" report noted that the space gained legitimacy in 2015, and that it’s now "mainstream."

"Companies across all industries now have IoT squarely on their radar, which explains the projected 17 percent jump from 9.7 billion connected devices in 2014 to more than 25.6 billion in 2019, hitting 30 billion in 2020," the company said in its report.

Of course, Verizon isn’t alone in targeting the IoT from a network operator perspective. AT&T has long touted its progress in the space, mainly in connecting cars from various automotive companies to its LTE network.

More recently, AT&T said it enabled LTE-M network technology on its first site in San Francisco to support its pilot of the technology at the AT&T Labs in San Ramon. AT&T plans to make the technology “widely available” across its footprint throughout next year. LTE M promises to expand LTE coverage for IoT-style devices that can run for years on one battery charge.