In the run up to Total Telecom Congress 2018, we caught up with Kirill Dmitriev, Vice President for Sales and Customer Service at MTS, to discuss developments in the global IoT market

What trends are you noticing in the development of the IoT sector at the moment

We are noticing structural changes in the IoT sector with market value shifting away from simple connectivity to services, platforms, B2B applications and systems integration. 

We also see changes in IoT deployment in terms of industries. Initially started with the transportation, the IoT is currently moving towards Smart City and Industrial IoT (IIoT). 

In Russia in particular, we see a growing interest in the IoT from government to use for Smart Cities and Energy,and MTS is very much leading on that front.

The trend from mobile-first to mobile-only will likely continue to grow, as mobile platforms will make more sense. 

The increase in data is pushing companies toward artificial intelligence (AI). The amount of data created by the IoT devices will simply be too large for humans to manage. It will require advanced analytics and machines. So AI is a necessity. We see a strong growth in analytics software and tools to provide real-time data streaming for IoT devices. 


What are the key challenges facing operators today?

The competition on the IoT market is intensifying. Different players including telecoms, IT service providers, device manufacturers are all trying to capture a portion of this growing market.  

Startups and new small players are making noise in the IoT arena getting involved in the race to develop the coolest IoT solutions. We can expect a series of new market challengers in the IoT analytics, machine learning and AI space as this data deluge is going to require sophisticated tools to manage. 

This market is also new for the operators, requiring business models and processes that are different from what has been used up till now. To be successful in IoT business, and to be able to compete, telecoms have to transform, to change processes and fit them around the IoT business. That’s just what we are doing at MTS. We are optimistic about our future prospects in the IoT. Thanks to the NB-IoT network coverage and our technical competency, MTS is exceptionally well positioned to become one of the largest suppliers of commercial IoT services in Russia.

As the popularity of IoT devices increases and IoT solutions become more complex, the greater will network security challenges be. Indeed, securing all these connected devices is difficult. Finding a solution to keep data safe is one of the key challenges. We have to take measures to ensure consumers’ data and privacy are safe. 


What predictions do you have for the state of the industry over the next 12-18 months?

The most obvious prediction is that the IoT will continue to expand, with more and more devices coming online every single day. Just as the IoT continues to grow, it will also become increasingly fragmented and due to this fragmentation the companies will deal with compatibility issues throughout their industries.

The Russian IoT market is only starting to scale up. However, we already see a growing interest from a variety of industries. Customers are more and more sophisticated. MTS actively stimulates the development of the IoT market in Russia. We launched the Open IoT Lab in Moscow to demonstrate and trial a wide range of IoT solutions based on NB-IoT technology.  Over 40 IoT-enabled solutions have been successfully tested and are currently being prepared for industrial production. We plan to expand further this innovation space and launch IoT labs in other cities across Russia. 


What new technologies are you particularly excited about at the moment?

We at MTS are betting on NB-IoT technology. We have already launched NB-IoT network in 20 Russian cities. By the end of 2018, we will provide NB-IoT coverage as well as integrated services for smart devices in all large cities across the country, rolling-out the nation-wide NB-IoT network. The launch of the NB-IoT network turns our pilot IoT projects into industrially scalable products to satisfy business demand in various industries.

We are also excited about LPWAN, NB-IoT, Massive MI,MO upcoming 5G. IoT devices will go to LPWANs. LPWANs operate at a lower cost with greater power efficiency than traditional mobile networks and able to support a greater number of connected devices over a larger area.

Apart from network technologies, we are also interested in fintech, Big Data technologies, smart analytics that we are actively developing and that we believe will provide a substantial effect being integrated into IoT solutions.  


What new markets are you particularly interested in at the moment?

At MTS, we focus on six key areas in the IoT – Smart City, Manufacturing, Transportation, Real Estate & Smart Home, Agriculture, Energy & Communal services. In particular, we see an attractive opportunity in one of the most archaic industry – Agriculture – mainly due to import substitution, which is a pecularity of the Russian IoT market. 

The Russia-wide Digital Economy plan is also helping us by a number of initiatives, such as Digital City which encourages municipalities to adopt new technologies.

We are very excited about this program, as it is not a single but a set of different IoT solutions for transportation, security, urbanization, communal services etc.  It aims to significantly improve the quality of life in different regions of the country. Since May, MTS has already signed strategic agreements with 20 regions of Russia to stimulate their digital development. Under these agreements, we will digitalize regional infrastructure and test our innovative digital solutions in IoT, telemedicine, smart education, FinTech, cybersecurity, Big Data, Clouds, and e-commerce.

Speaking about practical applications of IoT that are already in place in a number of industries, I’d like to mention our transport management and smart insurance solution. It is an exclusive "made in Russia" product, one of the best in the Russian market in this area. We improved our Smart Metering solution equipped it with better visualization of information collected from different devices. We are also about to launch video monitoring and analytics.