Ushering in a new era

Ushering in a new era

dtac's national 5G rollout scheme to focus on the integration of Internet of Things as Thai industries look to adapt to changing trends fuelled by the pandemic, write Suchit Leesa-nguansuk and William Hicks

Anticimex installs one of its Smart traps — intelligent pest control, connected by Telenor Connexion.
Anticimex installs one of its Smart traps — intelligent pest control, connected by Telenor Connexion.

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology worldwide as companies are looking to integrate it into their 5G rollouts due to its range of business-to-business (B2B) use cases in sectors like manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and healthcare. Additionally, it enables cross-border connectivity.

"The pandemic has actually accelerated the adoption of IoT solutions as it has forced people, businesses and societies all over the world to change -- causing massive disruption to manufacturing as well as supply chains," said Seth Ryding, chief sales for Telenor Connexion, IoT business under Telenor Group.

Telenor Connexion is an IoT vertical under the Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor, which operates in Thailand under dtac. The firm is looking to integrate its IoT network solutions into various Thai industries to develop incentives for businesses to sign up for dtac's budding 5G network.

The IoT market is predicted to have reached US$120 million (3.7 billion baht) in 2018 and will grow to $2 billion by 2030, according to Telenor.

"Looking forward, we have a bright future ahead," he said. "Obviously, our 5G rollout syncs with IoT opportunities with many things are going to be smarter and more efficient."

Seth Ryding Chief Sales Telenor Connexion

Opportunities within IoT are divided into four key areas -- improved customer experiences, increased cost efficiencies, creation of new values or services, and improvement of product performance.

"These will contribute to driving development and support the acceleration of IoT deployment in Thailand over the coming years," Mr Ryding said.

Touchless operations and the need for social distancing in combination with increased demand for real-time data has accelerated IoT adoption for Telenor.

TECHNOLOGY IN NEED OF USE

"For example, the number of point of sales terminals is going to increase over time," he said. "I think other areas too like vaccine distribution will benefit from this technology. Whether someone likes or dislikes vaccines, they need to be deployed fast and being able to do that in a controlled way while monitoring for quality and safety is extremely important."

Telenor is working with vaccine producers in Europe and North America to use IoT solutions to expedite vaccine disbursement. However, the technology has not yet been brought to Thailand where the government has been widely criticised for its slow vaccine rollout.

"Let's take the vaccine situation for example. They are very sensitive, especially in terms of the cold temperatures required and sensitivity to light. So, you need to make sure that they are not exposed and you need to be able to prove that at the end of the delivery. You also want to be sure of that during delivery, so you can make changes in terms of your vaccination plan in cases where you know the product was harmed during transport." 

Reduan Hasan Khan Head of B2B Product Development and Service Delivery, dtac

The company has also partnered with Great Wall Motors, a Chinese auto manufacturing firm that recently acquired an automotive manufacturing plant in Thailand to launch their brand new HAVAL H6 HEV model connected through Telenor Connexion using a multi-network solution, which includes dtac, Telenor's local telecommunications subsidiary, said Reduan Hasan Khan, head of B2B product development and service delivery at dtac.

The company also works with elevator companies to use facial recognition technology and other tools to make elevators more efficient and limit the number of people who can use it at a time to encourage social distancing. The IoT elevator can immediately detect a person's face and designate which floor the person owns an apartment on.

"For example, if you increase the price of public transport during peak hours, you will see that usage decreases but you can also decrease the number of vehicles on the roads in order to decrease traffic density. So I think that is one area and another relates to smart buildings and elevators. Elevator companies historically used to be just elevator companies but now they talk up how they provide a transport service."

CROSSING BORDERS

A key use case for IoT networks is cross-border logistics where tracking information must be done in real-time across large areas covering massive fleets of vehicles that must be managed and logged onto databases.

"Through a partnership between dtac and an operator in Malaysia, we can provide cross-border functionality in terms of transport and logistics solutions by monitoring goods' location and ensuring the quality of the products. Not only can you see where the actual product is but also monitor and ensure the quality of the product. Another benefit relates to fleet management. The first question most companies and people have is are they en route and are they going the way they're supposed to? We know that a lot of cargo theft happens during deviations from routes and if you can call a driver directly when he or she starts to deviate, they can quickly correct their error. You also have the power of geofencing which means that if a vehicle goes outside of its dedicated route, an automatic alarm goes off."

He said Telenor's IoT devices can also monitor the performance of a vehicle, which can have huge implications for fuel consumption. The devices can alert fleet managers if a driver is accelerating and braking too much to encourage them to drive in a more even-keeled way to improve mileage.

"I think that it's only the mind that sets the limitation in terms of what kind of solutions you can create," Mr Ryding said.

SCALING UP

"We have a very clear position that we will be the connectivity specialist and will make sure that our partners or our customers can carry out medium and large scale IoT projects," Mr Ryding said.

"They need whatever is required in terms of connectivity -- speed and network -- and both local dtac networks and global networks through the IoT platform where the data comes from can be stored securely. Moreover, even an API for security can be created similar to virtual private networks and private VPN to control visibility and through a connectivity management portal."

Telenor Connexion is also exploring a remote monitoring use case in the healthcare sector to monitor the health status of patients at home to decrease the number of people who have to go to the hospital.

"Obviously many countries are still locked down or have a semi-lockdown and we really want to minimise the movement of people. You can actually extract real-time information on status from patients and it can include blood samples or heart rate measurement and these are things that keep people and societies safe," he said.

I think moving towards the new future, the sharing economy will be a very important part of the future and I think if you look at the utilisation of vehicles, excavators are great examples of a use case," he said.

"Usually, excavators were sold as units. However, now you can sell hours that the machine is used for or you can sell the weight that the excavator lifts. This means you're sort of moving towards a one-time payment solution towards recurring revenue. If you look at it in the long run, you'll get much more money over time from the recurring revenue model."

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