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IoT is not just a technology; it is a business strategy, according to Craig Price, SVP mobility products and marketing, PCCW Global, who spoke to Telecom Review about the company’s IoT roadmap and the relevance of its Console Connect platform in the era of 5G and IoT.

Could you tell us more about your role at PCCW Global?
I head up the mobility products and marketing team for PCCW Global which is an affiliate of HKT, and is part of the PCCW Group. That team is responsible for mobility products including IPX, A2P, IoT and mobile payment solutions. I have 35 years of professional, management and senior management experience in the IT and telecom industries, working for various blue chip IT companies and telcos. I have also led sales/business development, marketing teams, customer delivery, product management and development teams and solutions consultancy teams, developed and managed various startups.

What are the changes you see in business and business models because of IoT?
New business models are coming up every day because of IoT. What seems very expensive or impossible to do in the past is becoming feasible and even commonplace. Industry 4.0, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, smart wearables, connected home appliances are all reality nowadays. For example, vehicle and fleet management has become so advanced nowadays that businesses can schedule almost exact delivery time and rerouting of food delivery trucks to avoid traffic delay and provide complete temperature history of the food it has carried to ensure food safety and quality. All these are not possible without the deployment of IoT technology.

The IoT (internet of things) is trending and is a very promising technology. What is PCCW Global’s view of the significance of IoT to the market?
IoT is not just a technology, it is a business strategy. Businesses are making use of IoT in improving product and service performance, reducing machine down time, collecting real-time customer behavior, and improving customer satisfaction. What’s more, there are many mainstream IoT applications deployed today specifically in industries, homes, telecom networks and smart cities resulting in faster, safer and less expensive services and goods. The impact is far and deep and affects everyone’s lives internationally.

PCCW Global provides a suite of solutions. What are the unique advantages of Console Connect IoT solution?
PCCWG has excellent international network infrastructure. PCCW Global has been a carrier for carriers for many years. It has been ranked top 10 in international IP traffic in the world. It has its own fiber, satellite, media, mobile, IP, IPX, IoT and SDI (software defined interconnect) networks as well as cloud facilities and datacenters. Our edge devices are connected directly to over 800 MNOs (mobile network operators) and therefore we can provide an almost 100% ubiquitous, direct, secure and orchestrated IoT service anywhere in the world. Furthermore, we can provide dedicated private links from our automated network platform Console Connect to all major public clouds or customers’ own private clouds. So literally a full connectivity service from edge to cloud and all managed and orchestrated by our own SDN service Console Connect.

Why is orchestration so important?
End-to-end IoT connectivity can be very complex; imagine all the local and international connections, leased lines and public internet, mobile and WiFi networks, private and public clouds, etc. Customers are looking for ways to simplify the ordering, deployment and change management of the network. The very nature of IoT is challenging as the traffic throughput per device can vary significantly and can be irregular at times, yet as the operating environment changes, throughput, bandwidth and frequency can change suddenly and in an exponential way. And mind you, we are talking about millions of devices here, so a scalable auto orchestration layer is crucial in effective network management, ensuring up time and maintaining service levels. Otherwise the economic benefits of IoT will be wiped out easily.

How does PCCW Global address the security concerns?
When properly configured and designed there is no need for our IoT connections to touch the public internet (the greatest source of frauds and threats) at all. Our device connection will go through 3GPP compliant 2/3/4/5G networks, then the IPX (international MNO operators’ private exchange), then to our SDI (software defined interconnect) platform, then via a private link to the destination public or private cloud. All these connections are orchestrated by Console Connect. In addition, we can also advise customers on security best practices to ensure that an even higher security level is achieved.

What is your experience in the implementation of IoT projects internationally?
PCCW Global has 45 offices internationally and has a reputable partner network of hardware and software vendors, system integrators, contractors and suppliers in the world. We have delivered many smart projects in Hong Kong, China, Asia, Middle East and Europe, supported by our excellent project management office and our three international NOCs (network operating centers) 7 x 24 round the clock. Customer satisfaction has always been our top priority.

Is there any regulatory issues enterprises should consider when deploying their IoT solutions?
We are very experienced and we understand that some countries do not offer permanent roaming, for example, and therefore we have local breakout solutions either in forms of an extended agreement with the local carrier or as a physical local SIM. All our proposed solutions are stable, reliable and legitimate. The customer should be aware of the risks if their suppliers do not fully comply with the local regulation.

How would 5G impact the IoT market?
Our Console Connect IoT solution is GSMA compliant and 5G ready today. Our parent company HKT will be rolling out 5G service in Hong Kong in 2020. We look forward to the exciting era of 5G. With much improved scalability and latency, the 5G impact will only be positive. New projects, new applications, new platforms and new devices are forecasted to come in a massive scale internationally within the next few years. All these will in turn drive down the marginal costs which in turn would drive more new projects and applications.

What is the coming IoT roadmap for PCCW Global?
We have a very well planned roadmap for 2020 and the coming three years. Our current Console Connect IoT service is primarily designed for enterprises, and soon we will be launching a carrier/wholesale version, followed by an MVNE product. We will also launch a multi-protocol connection service and an enhanced device management service. All of these developments are very exciting and impactful.

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