The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for massive growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem as businesses accelerated digital transformation to meet customers’ needs.

In addition, the ongoing expansion of the 5G ecosystem is further propelling IoT growth across all markets. With the total number of IoT connections worldwide expected to increase from 1.8 billion at the end of 2020 to 6.2 billion in 2030, according to an Analysys Mason report, the outlook for IoT is promising. 

Ensuring seamless roaming across networks is a crucial requirement for the IoT ecosystem to work efficiently. Kaleido Intelligence’s recent IoT Roaming: Market Strategies & Forecasts 2022 report forecasts 27% average annual growth in roaming IoT connections between 2021 and 2026, as demand skyrockets for sensing, monitoring and telemetry applications. 
A new business model to capitalize on new business opportunities
To support this expanding demand for IoT connectivity, China Mobile International (CMI) is investing heavily in strengthening its digital infrastructure. The networks upon which IoT connectivity depends have been evolving and getting more complex, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to IoT connectivity. For example, several technologies are being used for IoT, such as Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), among others. 
To address the challenges associated with IoT roaming, CMI has developed a new business model: iConnect IoT Roaming. It includes updated roaming tariffs specifically for IoT usage on different technology networks, including 2G, 3G, 4G, NB-IoT and potentially even 5G. 
The traditional wholesale roaming model is built for human users, but IoT comes with some particular roaming requirements. Typically, IoT devices might have a very low usage compared with smartphones, for example. The new business model takes this into account to better manage IoT roaming for devices.
A key issue faced by service providers is that they lack tools to identify, measure and charge for IoT usage because they do not have an effective tracking mechanism for IoT roaming. CMI addresses this with several ways to detect IoT traffic, including TADIG code, IMSI and APN. 
In the long term, CMI is working on two parallel tracks, one for IoT roaming and the other for local SIM/eSIM that should enable IoT ecosystem growth worldwide. 
CMI is promoting this new business model to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) as a more sustainable way for MNOs to monetise IoT roaming and generate a return on their investment in building the digital infrastructure. The model can also make it easier for MNOs to provide IoT connectivity to one another.
Customized and cost-effective IoT roaming solutions for various scenarios
CMI’s iConnect IoT allows it to provide cost-effective IoT roaming solutions that cater to different scenarios, including physical SIM, eSIM or IoT roaming in various networks from 3G to 4G to NB-IoT and even 5G. While the China SIM is for in-country usage, global SIM offers extensive worldwide coverage and caters to the need for deployment in different geographies. China SIM is especially geared to meet the demand from specific industries, like connected cars from the automotive sector.
A crucial advantage of CMI’s iConnect IoT roaming solution is that it can be deployed quickly. It also ensures low data usage. 
This facilitates several new use cases that will bring businesses new capabilities and operational efficiencies. For instance, it can be used for product testing in manufacturing units in China. Further, IoT roaming can be used for the trial of smart devices that detect temperature, power usage, or smoke and humidity, for example, before they are exported to other countries. 
The CMI network is an infrastructure-based IoT model suitable for Chinese companies expanding their operations internationally or for overseas enterprises starting a business in China. The service provider also offers bespoke solutions and can holistically evaluate a business and provide a customized and cost-effective IoT roaming solution that addresses its unique requirements. 
Build an open IoT ecosystem to drive innovation
CMI’s IoT Solution is built on an open and collaborative IoT ecosystem. The service provider has collaborated with 500 global operators on IoT connectivity to create an enviable global IoT network capability. 
Furthermore, it has established a win-win business model with IoT software and hardware suppliers to provide customers with best-quality solutions. 
CMI has also taken care to ensure that its comprehensive IoT solutions comply with related regulations in key markets worldwide, as well as China. By leveraging its vast and extensive digital infrastructure, huge customer base and market scale, CMI can provide cost-effective one-stop IoT solutions to global customers and unparalleled cross-border IoT capabilities.
CMI has already set new global benchmarks by building an IoT connectivity management platform. The platform advances the growth of the IoT ecosystem by addressing the key challenges faced by customers. As businesses adopt IoT use cases to accelerate digital transformation, they stand to benefit by using CMI’s IoT platform for IoT connectivity and its cost-effective Connectivity Management Platform, IoT Roaming and IoT solutions for effective management of their IoT operations.