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Smart transportation: The next opportunity for MNOs?

Autonomous vehicles are a hot topic right now, with automakers such as BMW, Audi, Daimler, Tesla, Mazda, and many others already developing vehicles and mapping platforms that will help to realise the promise of self-driving cars.

At the same time, transportation accounts for 6-12 per cent of GDP in many developed countries, notes Huawei. However, it also brings many problems and challenges, including traffic accidents, congestion and vehicle emissions.

As a result, smart transportation is considered as the solution to the problems above, as well as an opportunity for MNOs. Huawei identifies four major opportunities for MNOs:

  • Telematics services with Usage Based Insurance (UBI) and Fleet Management.
  • Smart parking services based on Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) network technology.
  • Emergency Service Network (ESN) based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks.
  • Enhanced Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) based on LTE-V or 5G networks.

More broadly speaking, Huawei categorises these as infotainment, telematics and data-enhanced automated functions, all of which offer significant business opportunities for MNOs, it believes.

As an increasing number of people choose not to travel alone – as highlighted, for example, by the rise of ride-sharing apps and services – there are opportunities for MNOs to provide in-car entertainment services via B2B data plans to service providers such as Uber or Didi.

Telematics, meanwhile, is an area that MNOs really should explore, as autonomous vehicles develop rapidly and governments help by exploring options for favourable policies and regulations. MNOs have their own advantages compared to OEMs, states the report, including wider customer bases, mature sales channels, well-developed call centers, higher awareness of data security and privacy, and better service continuity across automotive brands. MNOs could quickly enter the telematics market by enhancing their capabilities through acquisitions or partnerships with telematics service providers.

Huawei notes that UBI and Fleet Management are two hot topics in telematics, with the number of UBI users predicted to increase from 5.5 million in 2013 to 107 million in 2018, and the market size for Fleet Management services expected to reach US$21 billion by 2022.

In the area of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and autonomous driving, MNOs should be starting to actively participate in the development of technical standards and the building of networks, to support that, the report continues.

Another opportunity is smart parking, which is usually regarded as a part of smart city, and MNOs could become the end-to-end service providers in the smart parking market by partnering with government authorities, suggests Huawei. The report goes on to cover topics such as connected cars and managing the smart transformation journey.

While it makes for interesting, yet speculative, reading, it’s clear that as emerging technologies, such as NB-IoT, LTE-U and even pre-standard deployments of 5G, coalesce around developing IoT and smart applications, there will be significant new opportunities for MNOs and other service providers.

The challenge, however, is to find the right niche, and become an expert in that field, whether through innovation, acquisition or partnership. By acting now, providers can help to ensure that they are best placed to take advantage of this significant transformation that our industry is undergoing, and the opportunities that will bring.