Telenor looks to sharpen its IoT business edge both at home and abroad

30 March 2021

A giant screen displaying different services using an IoT network. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO / AFP)

As analysts and market forces predict a continued turn to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) by business interests worldwide, service providers are circling IoT smart devices and systems that are being seen as transformative for enterprises seeking that elusive competitive advantage.

The latest entrant to declare its IoT ambitions is multinational telecommunications conglomerate Telenor, which last week announced its intentions to unify its global IoT operations, merging both its regional Nordics portfolio and its international Telenor Connexion portfolio under the brand Telenor IoT.

The transition will take effect immediately, so in the Nordics where Telenor is the market incumbent, Telenor IoT will be offered across all its business channels, while globally IoT customers will be serviced through Telenor Connexion and by selected local partners.

“The new operating model reinforces our competitive edge and makes our product portfolio easier to buy for any customer searching for world-class IoT operation and platform capabilities,” said Mats Lundquist, CEO of Telenor Connexion and manager of Telenor IoT, in a canned statement. “We are also getting scale benefits on new technology investments,” the top executive confirmed.

Telenor already purports to be among the top ten IoT operators globally by volume, amassing a stable of more than 17 million connected devices in 190 countries. The company claims to be among the top three service providers in Europe, but did not specify how many of its connected devices are located in and around its Scandinavian stronghold.

“The launch of Telenor IoT and unifying our IoT capabilities and competencies will make us better positioned to accelerate the digital future that will benefit customers, businesses, and society,” said Jukka Leinonen, Nordic EVP and Chairman of the Telenor Connexion Board, in a prepared statement. “The steps we are taking now is the culmination of several months of intense collaboration between colleagues in Telenor’s Nordic telco businesses, Telenor Connexion, and Telenor’s Nordic Hub.”

As mentioned, the integration of both IoT divisions into a singular Telenor IoT will be accompanied by a new operating model for the Norwegian telecommunications giant that seeks to “leverage on Telenor’s global competency, synchronize product development, accelerate the customer-facing business and improve technical support”.

The unification has also created the largest team of IoT specialists among Nordic service providers, comprising of 200 specialists situated in 18 countries ranging across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe. That is a positive outlook for the expected quicker IoT adoption in the years to come, along with the clear standardization that should follow as smart devices become a fixture of the connected enterprise.

And that trend is already flourishing, with Strategy Analytics forecasting that sales of eSIMs (heralded as the next evolution of the SIM card, an embedded SIM that does not need to be physically transferred between devices) for IoT applications will reach 326 million by 2025 – including eSIMS for difficult to access devices such as sealed medical devices, connected vehicles, and consumer electronic devices.

With a unified global IoT team, a standardized product lineup, and an internationally-aligned go-to-market plan, Telenor IoT aims to deliver the best of every business IoT competency segment for each client.

But industry insiders also point to a realigning of Telenor’s priorities, as the global market continues to offer stiffer competition for thinning margins and the distribution mediums for connectivity to enterprises continues to evolve. Telenor’s renewed focus on the local Nordic market for emerging solutions such as IoT eSIMs shows a rebalancing of priorities, back towards a shared or equal-footing for the homegrown market.