Verizon has quietly revamped its ThingSpace Internet of Things (IoT) platform so that it focuses on the operator’s core strength—providing connectivity.
According to Shamik Basu, director of product management for IoT platform and services at Verizon, the company is no longer providing the application enablement piece because it found that it was duplicating what was already being done in the public cloud space by companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
“When it comes to building an application enablement platform we thought we were duplicating what was happening in the public cloud space,” Basu said. “And developers have an affinity for public cloud.”
Instead, ThingSpace now offers connectivity through AWS so that customers can go to AWS and have an application running in a public cloud environment, and connect directly to ThingSpace.
This is a switch for ThingSpace, which Verizon initially launched in 2015 as a one-stop shop for enterprises that wanted a platform that could do everything from connect devices to develop applications. Of course, a few years ago the IoT industry was much more fragmented and confusing. And, companies wanted to work with firms that could provide more than just connectivity.
Basu said that Verizon has built a services layer that is close to the network edge that will provide security and diagnostic services in addition to connectivity.
While Verizon once boasted that the company was working with more than 16,000 developers that were using ThingSpace application program interfaces (APIs) to develop IoT solutions, Basu said that the company still works with developers, but not on applications. “We still have developers,” he said, but added that these developers are working in the hardware area, and developing connected devices.
NB-IoT vs. LTE-M
Verizon is closely pairing its ThingSpace platform with its LTE-M network, which it launched nationwide in 2017, and its narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network, which it launched nationwide in May. Basu said that there are many LTE-M devices that are activated on the network, and they are seeing that network scale quickly.
For NB-IoT, it’s still early, but Verizon is working with hardware makers to get modules certified. Basu said three NB-IoT modules have been pre-certified, and that developers are using those modules to build their hardware. He expects the first NB-IoT devices to launch on the network shortly.
Exponent Is Dead
Tied to its ThingSpace overhaul is the death of Exponent, Verizon’s venture that it launched in 2017 with the goal of offering digital technologies such as ThingSpace to other carriers, particularly those outside the U.S.
Basu said that Exponent was shuttered because the operator found that other operators preferred to work with neutral parties, such as software-as-a-service firms, on their IoT solutions. “We thought it was best for us to focus on our customers. It wouldn’t scale for us,” he said.