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Innovative IoT Showcase at Mobile 360 in Asia-Pacific: Partnership Enables Mobile Industry’s Expansion Beyond Connectivity


The IoT’s increasingly rapid growth has opened up vast new opportunities for operators to look beyond their traditional commercial horizons as providers of connectivity – as countless services, devices and objects come online for the first time.  While provision of connectivity to these remains the core of the mobile industry’s work – and development of the infrastructure required will be a priority over the immediate term – that process has made the mobile industry the fulcrum where previously it was one pillar among several.  This means that, rather than simply enabling digital innovations by connecting them, operators are increasingly poised to act as essential partners in their design and delivery – even offering their own end-to-end solutions in a wide range of areas including AI, data analytics and intelligent automation.

This more complex role for the mobile industry was the focus for much of the GSMA’s APAC IoT Innovation Summit last week, at this year’s Mobile 360 in Kuala Lumpur, which convened leading regional operators and their partners in industry and government to discuss how the latest innovations in IoT have helped operators continue to grow and look Beyond Connectivity.  It’s an exciting time to be working in APAC: the region accounts for around 40% of the global market for Mobile IoT (GSMA Intelligence, 2019), and an astonishing 97% of all NB-IoT (ABI Research, 2019).  Total revenues in APAC from IoT as a whole are forecast to reach $386 billion by 2025 – more than in any other region on earth – where in the same year connected devices will reach 11 billion, more than twice the number in Europe.  Several operators in APAC now have open labs to help share learnings on shared challenges, a highly encouraging indication of the cooperative spirit needed if current momentum is to be enhanced.

Partnership with Mobile Operators Has Become Crucial in IoT Success

Consultative initiatives are the lifeblood of the IoT’s growth, a fact plainly acknowledged by delegates and speakers throughout the Summit. “There’s no way for us to go beyond connectivity without working with partners,” explained Azrin Aris, Director of Emerging Solutions & Innovation at TM One, who are partnering with the Malaysian Government’s Public Works Department on deployment of smart traffic systems.  “We don’t just ask governments for money – we need to understand how to make out solutions sustainable, and we do that by conducting workshops – we’ve since been able to save 30% on costs by adapting 11,000 legacy traffic light systems. In the first workshop alone we identified 70 use cases using the existing infrastructure, and are now developing a horizontal platform to help us deliver to all the different verticals. If we cooperate, everybody wins, and that’s our aspiration – to grow the industry, and take it forward.”

Sharif Lukman Mahfoedz, Group Head Enterprise Product & Marketing at XL Axiata, Indonesia’s second largest operator, has a very straightforward message for XL’s partner organisations: “we are focusing on IoT – we know IoT is going to touch every sector, and our mission is: we want you to grow.” That nose for growth has led XL to partner with Sierad Produce to make chicken farming intelligent in Indonesia. With 5% of poultry in the country dying in captivity prior to slaughter for food, a more controlled environment for livestock is plainly needed – yet only 2% – 3% of poultry farming uses automated smart processes. CEO of Sierad Produce Tommy Wattimena Widjaja explained that these smart processes can already more than halve the premature mortality rate, not only making the industry more profitable in the immediate term but making Indonesia’s farmers more viable in credit applications and helping boost the wider economy.

Throughout the session we were brought up to speed on a rich array of developments in IoT from across the world’s most connected region, from smart utilities in Pakistan to intelligent homes in Singapore.  Pakistani operator Jazz for instance has 59 million individual customers and over 30,000 business accounts – leaving it poised to transition to a partnership model while remaining accountable to a large base of individual subscribers. That’s led them to pilot a smart energy metering partnership, with reductions in cost reduced ten-fold from the reduced overheads, a plan they hope in future to sell to the national government.  Singtel’s smart home management with partners iglooworks by igloohome meanwhile was demonstrated as the company celebrates sales in 90 countries – with aims to send physical keys the way of the username and password, by controlling access via NB-IoT. There were too many compelling demonstrations at our IoT Innovation Expo to do justice here – we’d recommend taking a look over them here to get up to speed.

A Few SuperStars Have Emerged from Deploying Innovative IoT Solutions

Among the most important aspects of the process of IoT innovation is making solutions which knit together the enormous complexity of the components on which they are based, without adding friction or complexity for the user.  “To disrupt healthcare through IoT, you need a very user-centric model,” explained Hudson Lee, President of Imeus Health. “The most important part is the health record, some of which can be lost when people switch doctors – we cannot use AI without the right information, but once we have that we can build a lifetime plan accessible by app. Without such a plan we generally only seek help once we’re sick, and then it can be much too late. So the idea here is to connect all devices and entities to one place so we can make healthcare more effective and efficient.” This is as good an exposition as any on what IoT innovation of this kind is all about – if it sounds dizzyingly complicated, it shouldn’t, at least not if it’s being done right. It’s just new. A few other companies are also developing leading industry IoT solutions including 5G Drone Technology, and AI-assisted Cattle Farming. Catch up on what you missed here.

IoT Innovations Do Not Stop Here

Progress in the IoT’s development has been coming along at speed in APAC over the last year – and with the dawning of the 5G era, the coming one looks still more promising, as LTE-M and NB-IoT are merged into 5G standards to further enable services requiring low latency and large bandwidth. To help play a part in shaping the IoT’s future, why not join the GSMA’s Developer Workshop at the Sierra Wireless Innovation Summit in Paris this month, on 23 October 2019 – register here if you’d like to come along.

APAC IoT Innovation Summit & IoT Expo @ Mobile 360 – Digital Societies

Start: Thursday 26 September 2019 8:30 am
End: Thursday 26 September 2019 5:30 pm
Venue: Mayang Sari Grand Ballroom, Lower Level 3, JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur
Location: 183, Bukit Bintang Street, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Attend this IoT Summit at the M360 Digital Societies to learn the latest Mobile IoT development and deployment, understand how industries adopt the technologies and obtain insights into regional IoT innovators and ecosystem communities…

Mobile internet is a crucial component of digital societies

Mobile internet is changing lives and livelihoods around the world. It is a fundamental driver of our increasingly digital societies. Mobile internet provides the sole means of online access and engagement for millions of people globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). As a result, in LMICs mobile internet is a key facilitator for the shift of public services onto digital channels, the development of local digital content and services ecosystems, and for access to otherwise unobtainable help, advice and information.

This success is particularly clear in Malaysia, the host of the GSMA M360 Digital Societies event that ran this week. The country has made strong progress in building and shaping a digital society – demonstrated by the extensive Malaysian Digital Association’s Award winners in recent years. Malaysia is just one example of many countries in the wider regions of East Asia and Pacific as well as South Asia have that have made strong progress in rolling-out and leveraging mobile internet.

Recognizing the importance of mobile internet for digital societies (and other initiatives), the GSMA Connected Society team (in collaboration with GSMA Intelligence) launched the 2019 State of Mobile Internet Connectivity report this summer. The report features data and insights from the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index (MCI). The Index measures the performance of 163 countries – representing 99% of the global population – against the four key enablers of mobile internet adoption. The four enablers (see figure 1) are crucial foundations, and amplifiers, for the mobile internet adoption and usage that is a central prerequisite for a digital society.

Figure 1. The components of the Mobile Connectivity Index

So, why are these four enablers so important?

First, mobile internet infrastructure provides the internet coverage needed to deliver online products and services over mobile – many of which are at the heart of digital societies. Significant investment by operators has resulted in strong improvements in infrastructure around the world, including particular growth in 4G coverage and mobile broadband coverage across Asia. 3G and 4G are now both available to many in both South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific.

Network quality has also significantly improved, with numerous countries now having internet speeds that allow citizens to explore the benefits that mobile internet can deliver. This is particularly important as the majority of citizens in LMICs rely on mobile internet to get online, as highlighted in responses to the GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey. In some countries, mobile is essential. For example, in Myanmar, 94% of respondents who had used the internet in the last three months accessed it exclusively on a mobile phone.

Affordability is a key driver of mobile internet adoption and use. The latest iteration of the Mobile Connectivity Index highlights that mobile data continues to become increasingly affordable in every region. South Asia, in particular, has some of the best levels of affordability worldwide, considering LMICs only. Across these countries, average affordability of data is lowest in South Asia at 1.2% of monthly income. Operators such as Reliance Jio in India are making real efforts to ensure the affordability of their services.
However, internet-enabled devices remain expensive for many – particularly the poorest. In East Asia and the Pacific, for the poorest fifth of society, an entry-level device capable of accessing the mobile internet costs 89% of their monthly GDP. This issue is starker in other parts of the region. Notably, in South Asia, an entry-level device costs 269% of the poorest fifth’s monthly GDP. As digital societies evolve citizens will want to engage with many aspects of them through their mobiles. Therefore, ensuring the affordability of smartphones and data is essential.

Citizens also need to have the digital – and wider – skills and knowledge to participate in a digital society. MCI’s consumer readiness enabler assesses digital skills and other consumer attributes concerning mobile internet access and usage. When surveyed as part of the GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey, citizens in LMICs in East Asia and South Asia identified a lack of digital skills as the biggest barrier to mobile internet use – cited by 35% and 37% of respondents. These were the largest percentages across all low- and middle-income regions. Continued improvements in digital literacy are needed.

Beyond this, the mobile gender gap needs to close, and equitable access to and ownership of devices is needed. These factors are particularly relevant in some parts of Asia, where the mobile internet gender gap – which measures how much less likely a woman is to use mobile internet than a man – can be significant. The GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019 highlights that South Asia has the widest mobile gender gap of any region in the developing world. Here, women are 58% less likely than men to use mobile internet. A more extensive analysis of these figures can be found in this blog post.

Finally, the success of any digital society is premised on its relevance to citizens. This is a particularly important factor across South Asia and East Asia and Pacific regions. Across LMICs, GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey respondents in East Asia and South Asia saw the mobile internet as less relevant to their lives than those living elsewhere. 23% of citizens in South Asia cited ‘relevance’ as a particular barrier to mobile internet use – compared to 12% of Latin American respondents.
In aiming to measure progress in this area, the MCI enabler of content and services assesses the availability of secure online content and services accessible and relevant to the local population.

Here, we see that the extent of social media and social networks has increased considerably across several countries in the Asia and Pacific regions in recent years. The development of local content and services is also increasing. In this regard, Indonesia is one of the top ten most improved countries in the Mobile Connectivity Index since 2014. The country has seen a considerable increase in the development of local content, with a 200% increase in the number of applications available in local languages since 2014. However, across all countries there remains space for more locally developed products and services – particularly those in local, and non-English, languages.

Malaysia, as this year’s M360 host, is recognized as an ‘Advanced’ country in the Mobile Connectivity Index and has made strong progress across all of the above four enablers. There has also been sustained progress by many countries across East Asia and the Pacific, and South Asia – progress that can be tracked in the national data found on the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index web tool. This provides country comparisons and allows exploration of the four Mobile Connectivity Index enablers, and underpinning dimensions and indicators, in detail.

The developments highlighted by the 2019 State of Mobile Internet Connectivity report reaffirm the key role that mobile internet plays in any digital society. However, as the extent and scale of digital societies increase, it is crucial that this progress is matched – and supported – by the availability of affordable and accessible mobile internet connectivity that ensures that all can benefit from such societies. With this in mind, delivering, enabling and supporting the efforts of mobile internet operators and other stakeholders to achieve this must continue to be a priority.

If you enjoyed this blog you may be interested in the Connected Society program’s upcoming webinar which explores the state of mobile internet connectivity. Click here for more details and to register your place.

Leading 5G Business Innovation, ZTE releases 5G Cloud XR Application White Paper

By: ZTE Corporation
XR (Extended Reality) refers to a real and virtual man-machine interaction environment generated by computer technologies and wearable devices, including VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), MR (Mixed Reality), and HR (Holographic Reality). With the booming development of the Internet of Things, AI, and 5G, the XR-related industry is constantly attracting attention and admiration from markets and enterprises. However, it is difficult for local stand-alone XR to develop on a large scale due to lower user experience, high user cost, lack of unified content distribution platform, and lack of effective protection of content copyright.

Cloud XR effectively solves the pain point that strict the development of XR, and strengthens social communication and assistance, providing powerful support for the development of digital media communication. Cloud XR is the best large-scale development path of the current XR industry.
Based on the analysis of the challenges and development trends of XR applications, ZTE released the 5G Cloud XR Application White Paper, focusing on the business requirements and seven solutions of the Cloud XR typical application scenarios in 5G era, and provide a technical solution and user experience assessment system for the challenges of XR development.

Cloud AR remote guidance

The 5G + Video + Cloud AR solution has the features of high definition and intelligence. With the high bandwidth and mobility of 5G, the network can avoid the dependence on cables to support the fast expansion and it will support transmitting 4K, 8K, and 16K high definition streams. AR-based video conference makes terminals more diversified and combines with AI to make the system more intelligent and convenient.

Remote Application Demonstration Based on Cloud MR

With the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G, simultaneous positioning and mapping are introduced to enable videoconferencing to meet a wider range of application scenarios. MR glasses are used to enhance the real-time display of video conference, making video interaction more intuitive, more stereoscopic, and more realistic.

Cloud AR Security

HD road conditions are transmitted to the analysis and scheduling system in real-time through the 5G network. At the same time, the drone and other cameras are interconnected with the security monitoring system fixed on the ground, to build an all-round stereo security system.

Cloud VR/ AR interactive education

Panoramic images, panoramic videos, and 3D models present history, culture and other courses can meet the requirement of teachers for VR education, and the requirements of users for viewing AR virtual models.

Cloud VR UHD Immersive Video

With 5G ultra-high bandwidth and MEC edge computing capabilities, the problem that mobile phone users inside the venue cannot see some scenarios due to angels can be solved by a multi-perspective live broadcast. And users outside the venue can enjoy better service experience based on VR HD immersive live broadcast.

Cloud VR Video Game

Based on Cloud VR deployed on edge MECs, VR games implement the processing of nearby VR applications and the distribution of results. The implementation includes real-time media processing, GPU acceleration and image rendering functions which require huge computing capacity, thus reducing the transmission delay.

Cloud HR Holographic Conference

Video conferences based on holographic images make conference terminals more diversified, and blended reality display with naked holographic imaging and MR glasses makes video interaction more intuitive, stereoscopic and immersive.

As the global leading provider of communication equipment and solution, ZTE will continue to work with partners to research and innovate 5G and next-generation communication technologies and the applications, explore the business models and operational models of 5G Cloud XR applications and support the digital transformation of the societies. We believe that Cloud XR technology and applications combined with 5G technology will greatly change the way we work in many different segments of work, life, entertainment, and learning.

ZTE is a provider of advanced telecommunications systems, mobile devices, and enterprise technology solutions to consumers, carriers, companies and public sector customers. As part of ZTE’s strategy, the company is committed to providing customers with integrated end-to-end innovations to deliver excellence and value as the telecommunications and information technology sectors converge. Listed in the stock exchanges of Hong Kong and Shenzhen (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), ZTE sells its products and services in more than 160 countries. To date, ZTE has obtained 25 commercial 5G contracts in major 5G markets such as Europe, Asia Pacific, MEA, etc.

The views and opinions in this piece reflect those of ZTE Corporation and not necessarily those of GSMA.

OEMs on eSIM: friend or foe?

By Oxana Latypova, Kigen SIM Solutions at Arm

One of the most critical steps towards enabling more scalable cellular IoT is the evolution of the underlying SIM technology, primarily embedded SIM (eSIM) and its companion, remote SIM provisioning.

According to the recent survey of stakeholders across the whole connectivity ecosystem, it is clear that the industry is well aware of the importance of eSIM. For example, 67% of respondents view eSIM as a positive development and more than 80% agree it will overtake traditional SIM.

However, the OEMs’ perceptions of eSIM are less certain. In this survey, device makers have demonstrated the least awareness of eSIM if compared to other response groups. Those who are aware of eSIM overwhelmingly see it as a positive development, but sadly, a substantial proportion delays their eSIM adoption plans citing perceived complexity of eSIM projects and cost as the main reasons. More in-depth information on the findings concerning OEMs can be found in this blog.

With regards to these top concerns, we believe that the total cost of ownership benefit of eSIM will become more obvious with time. The number of successful adoptions of eSIM by OEMs continues to grow and the growth of the ecosystem is gaining momentum.
GSMA is doing a tremendous job on bringing eSIM to the masses, but there are realistic and practical things that we all can do to help OEMs ease their journey to eSIM. From providing support with building business processes to demos and comprehensive onboarding, we all can help them understand that the benefits of adopting eSIM outweigh the delivery efforts and the risk of missing out on the ongoing IoT boom. Let’s help OEMs to unlock the full potential of cellular IoT together.

Arm Kigen team regularly creates various guidance on eSIM and iSIM.
Want to understand remote SIM provisioning better? Get our handy ‘How RSP works’ guide.

The views and opinions in this piece reflect those of Arm and not necessarily those of GSMA.

Building the Assistive Tech Programme – Growing Our Engagement

By Michael Nique | Assistive Tech

Without mobile phones, we would be in darkness.” Collected through our digital access gap research in Kenya and Bangladesh with our partner Altai, this quote from an older man with hearing impairment living in rural Kenya summarises well why we do what we do. As we build the Assistive Tech programme to drive digital inclusion for all, we have been busy over the summer collecting evidence and individual stories and connecting with the stakeholders who will help us in our mission. Here we look at some of the highlights from the past months and what is coming next.

Discussing inclusive innovation in Rwanda

During M360 Africa in July Bernard Chiira, who leads Innovate Now in Nairobi, announced the call for applications for the Inaugural Cohort for Africa’s 1st Assistive Technology accelerator and explained the large untapped potential of AT innovation in Africa. In a follow-up discussion I had with Bernard and John Warnes from UNHCR working with refugees with disabilities, we touched upon the themes of affordability and availability of AT solutions and how global supply chains could be better leveraged to improve access to AT, how important user centred & inclusive design is to ensure no one is left behind, and the need for creative business cases in the private sector. In Rwanda, where expanding access to internet is a priority, I had the chance to meet Rene William Ngabo, the president of Rwanda Assistive Technology Access (RATA), an NGO with the mission of ensuring accessible ICTs for persons with disabilities (PWDs) across the country. Rene explained with passion his mission to train but also place trained people in internships to facilitate their integration in the labour market (the employment-to-population ratio of persons with disabilities aged 15 and older is almost half that of persons without disabilities).

Collecting Insights from the field in Kenya and Bangladesh and the GReAT Conference

Thanks to the support from the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI) and the programme AT2030, we are currently collating the results from our digital access research in Kenya and Bangladesh, giving us unique insights into the ownership, access and use of mobile phones and services by persons with disabilities. In a session with our partners GDI, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and an expert from Leonard Cheshire, these early learnings reinforce the impression that mobile is increasingly a lifeline in places where institutional services are limited. However, persons with disabilities are still less likely to own and access a mobile phone than a non-disabled individual in their country, or more likely to use lower-end phones and not benefit from the accessibility features offered by higher-end smartphones. The results for Kenya were presented in collaboration with the GDI Hub in Geneva in August at the WHO GReAT Consultation, a global gathering of public and private stakeholders preparing the next Global Report to highlight the current need, demand and supply of assistive technology, as well as outlining good practices for innovation and recommendations to improve access. Full results will be published later this year.

Engaging with mobile operators and preparing our side session in Kuala Lumpur

It is also a crucial time for us to engage and work with mobile operators on the question of inclusiveness in their business, and for their customers. Disability inclusion champions begin to emerge: for example, Safaricom in Kenya continues to develop their voice biometric platform to enable customers with visual impairments to access M-Pesa services; or Zain which recently outlined their inclusive disability strategy WeAble , building the foundations for a more inclusive digital ecosystem. To further our engagement with mobile operators and other stakeholders, next week on 25 September, we are hosting a first dedicated assistive technology workshop during the M360 Digital Societies conference in Kuala Lumpur.

In this session on “How people with disabilities can represent an untapped market for mobile operators in emerging markets”, mobile operators such as Singtel will share more about their accessibility and inclusiveness strategy, and we will foster a discussion on industry recommendations for effective strategies for driving inclusion of PWDs across all services and products within the mobile & digital ecosystem. Please do get in touch if you are interested to learn more or attend.

We are looking forward to making progress in our mission and sharing individual stories on how mobile technology is an important connector and enabler as an Assistive Technology.

THIS INITIATIVE IS CURRENTLY FUNDED BY AT 2030 – LIFE CHANGING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR ALL, AND SUPPORTED BY THE GSMA AND ITS MEMBERS.

The mobile gender gap in Asia: A region of rapid but unequal growth

by Matt Shanahan, Insights Analyst, Connected Women

The GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019 highlighted that there is a persistent mobile gender gap in low- and middle-income countries, where women are 10% less likely than men to own a mobile and 23% less likely to use mobile internet. The scale of the mobile gender gap varies considerably both between regions and within them. In no part of the world is this more evident than in Asia, which includes both some of the most digitally advanced markets in the world, as well as some of the most digitally unequal.

This blog is part two in a series of regional deep dives covering themes discussed in the Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019. The findings are based primarily on the 2018 GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey, which has over 20,000 respondents from 18 low- and middle-income countries, including six in Asia.

South Asia vs East Asia & Pacific: Neighbouring regions with contrasting mobile landscapes

South Asia has the widest mobile gender gap of any region in the world, by some margin. Across the region, women are 28% less likely than men to own a mobile phone, and 58% less likely than men to use mobile internet. This presents a stark contrast to the neighbouring region of East Asia & Pacific, where the mobile ownership gender gap is only 1% and the mobile internet gender gap is 4%.1

To some extent this can be explained by the presence of more developed countries in East Asia & Pacific such as China; GDP per capita is a strong predictor of the mobile ownership gender gap in a country, in general, the higher the GDP the lower the mobile gender gap (see Figure 1).

However, even when excluding China from the analysis, the gender gap in East Asia & Pacific is significantly below that of South Asia. With countries such as Myanmar exhibiting a similar GDP per capita to that of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, why is the gender gap consistently so much wider in South Asia? The existence of the mobile gender gap is grounded in a complex set of social, economic and cultural barriers, which manifest particularly strongly in South Asia.

Several Asian markets have seen impressive growth, but their gender gaps persist

The last few years have seen unprecedented growth in mobile access and use in many Asian markets, though the benefits have not been felt equally by women. Particularly notable have been the changes in Myanmar and India. In Myanmar, the liberalization of the telecoms sector in 2013 was followed by rapid growth in mobile ownership; while in 2013 only 11% of the population owned a mobile, ownership levels are now second highest out of the Asian countries surveyed. Despite this, as seen in Figure 1, the gender gap in mobile ownership remains substantial, with women 15% less likely than men to own a mobile phone.

Similarly, over the past five years, India has seen dramatic growth in its mobile market. As competition has intensified in India, data prices have reduced drastically helping drive substantial growth in mobile internet use – 4G growth has been particularly strong.2 Despite this growth, India remains one of the most digitally unequal countries in the world. Nowhere is this digital divide clearer than when comparing women and men.

While both Myanmar and India continue to have substantial inequalities in mobile ownership between men and women, the gender gap in India is far wider than economic indicators alone would predict. Although GDP per capita in Myanmar is lower than in India, its mobile ownership gender gap is considerably smaller. It is important therefore to consider how country and region-specific social norms influence women’s access to technology and particularly underpin South Asia’s disproportionate mobile gender gap.

The barriers to mobile ownership and internet use are both economic and normative

As outlined in research undertaken by the Harvard Kennedy School in India, the barriers to ownership and use of mobile phones can be split into two broad categories – economic and normative – where normative pertains to the existence of wide-ranging, deep-set social norms that inhibit gender equality. Research by the GSMA has found these normative barriers to be particularly prominent in South Asia. For example, women in South Asian countries, including India, are perceived as being vulnerable to corruption by the internet, meaning women’s use of mobile internet can put the reputation of their family at risk. These normative barriers can result in women’s use of the internet being curtailed.

Understanding and addressing the causes of the significant mobile gender gap in Asia is particularly important since the majority of new users in the region are accessing the internet for the first time on their mobile phones. Two-thirds of India’s internet users only access the internet on their mobile phone, and this figure increases to a staggering 94% of internet users in Myanmar (see Figure 2).

Mobile is an extraordinary driver of growth in Asia – a concerted effort is required to ensure women benefit equally

Mobile is proving to be an important driver of socio-economic development in Asia. In 2018, mobile technologies and services in Asia Pacific generated $1.6 trillion of economic value (5.3% of GDP). However, even as mobile grows rapidly in many parts of Asia, women continue to be disproportionately left behind. To ensure that women in Asia are not excluded from the increasingly digitized economies and societies of the future, concerted action must be taken to understand and address the barriers to women’s equal access to mobile where the gender gaps are widest.

For full details on the mobile gender gap across low- and middle-income countries and key recommendations to all relevant stakeholders for tackling the remaining mobile gender gap, see The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019 and the accompanying Methodology documentation

Big Data Engine Leads to AI Generation

By: GIGABYTE & Infinities

More and more companies are eager to embrace AI, but facing difficulties to start. The cycle of AI workflow involves experimentation, exploration, and perfection. In different stages, the resource scale and tools used to differ. According to the experience shared by AI scientists, it usually takes two to three weeks to prepare the infrastructure for the cloud environment. Reports also point out that AI scientists usually spend 35% of the workload on infrastructures. It is quite time-consuming!

To solve the problems mentioned above, GIGA-BYTE TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD., InfinitiesSoft Solutions Inc., and Bigtera Inc. are to provide an AI/Data Science cloud platform to streamline data, tools, and workflows in AI training & Big Data analysis. This cloud platform allows you to virtualize and share the GPU and CPU resources of your bare-metal hardware deployment, maximizing time and cost efficiency when running GPU-based AI/DNN training or CPU-based analysis workloads.

AI-Stack enables companies to use AI faster and easier, without spending too much time thinking about how to deploy for the computing/development/training environment required to adopt AI/Big Data. AI-Stack provides a ready-to-use work environment for AI and data scientists/engineers, enabling AI professionals to spend their time and effort on AI and development rather than the basic environment.

AI-Stack provides enterprises with a self-sufficient, controllable, sharable, and horizontally expandable private cloud/computing environment to provide enterprises with reliable, powerful, cost-competitive, resource-efficient and efficient AI and big data development environment. AI-Stack supports GPU and AI process automation, reducing the complexity and learning curve used by AI engineers and scientists with Tensorflow, Caffe and other deep learning tools. With AI-Stack, AI engineers and scientists can focus on AI and Machine Learning tasks without spending a lot of time on system maintenance, tuning, and deployment.

The views and opinions in this piece reflect those of GIGABYTE & Infinities and not necessarily those of GSMA.

eSIM future-proofing: how can mobile operators support all eSIM devices?

By Emir Aboulhosn, VP Connectivity Domain, Digital Labs, IDEMIA

Forecasts predict that by 2025 there will be two billion shipped eSIM-enabled devices. While traditional SIM cards are associated with one mobile operator, embedded SIMs (eSIMs) can be provisioned over-the-air by downloading any mobile operator’s profile. They are a key component to the connectivity revolution and digital transformation that are changing the world we live in.

As the number of eSIM-enabled devices grows so do the requirements and considerations that mobile operators must consider, calling for a framework that can handle the increasing complexity in standards, specifications and requirements for each device and their respective use cases.

A cloud-based approach for a flexible and modular framework
The best approach for mobile operators to meet the different requirements is to adopt a framework that is made up of many interconnected components, each of which can be modified and updated independently. Without having to invest heavily in each use case and its unique requirements, the cloud supports the growing trend of virtualized telecom infrastructure for non-core network components. Cloud-based platforms offer the flexibility, agility and cost savings needed to support the latest and largest variety of eSIM devices at scale.

Microsoft and eSIM convergence for enterprise and consumer connectivity
Consumers and Enterprise customers alike have a growing need for the connectivity that eSIM enables. Microsoft’s vision for eSIM connectivity has extended throughout the company and cascaded to all parts of its business.

For consumer-use, Windows allows for the purchase of subscriptions directly from the mobile operator through a native Windows 10 app, called Mobile Plans, requiring mobile operators to integrate their subscription manager with the Windows backend.

For enterprise-use, connectivity is activated and managed by the enterprise’s IT administrator through a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform, requiring mobile operators to integrate their subscription manager with the enterprise’s MDM platform.

Thanks to Microsoft’s collaboration with IDEMIA, mobile operators can enable both consumer and enterprise use cases with a single integration. They can not only save on integration costs but also benefit from IDEMIA’s pre-integration with not just one, but multiple MDM vendors. This is a key example of how a cloud-based, modular approach can both reduce costs and open new eSIM use cases for mobile operators.

Discover IDEMIA’s Smart Connect Platform
IDEMIA’s eSIM platform, Smart Connect, provides a highly flexible and scalable solution that can meet mobile operators’ needs. It takes a cloud-first approach with elements hosted either in GSMA SAS-SM certified data centers or in the public cloud. Smart Connect supports a wide range of eSIM devices and use cases including Consumer, Enterprise, M2M and more.

As more devices are launched in the coming years, at IDEMIA, we hope to see more mobile operators take this cloud-based approach to eSIM and fuel with them the growing demand for an always-connected world.

The views and opinions in this piece reflect those of IDEMIA and not necessarily those of GSMA

REGULATIONS AREN’T THE ONLY WAY TO PROTECT CUSTOMERS. THEY MAY NOT EVEN BE THE BEST WAY.

By Vince Kadar

Now in its second decade of growth and processing over 1.3 billion dollars a day, mobile money is a maturing and highly competitive industry. This puts regulators at the regional, national, and international level in a challenging position. They must develop regulatory platforms that support the interoperable systems on which an increasing number of people depend, while also preventing sophisticated digital fraud and money laundering operations.

It comes down to this: how can regulators help keep users safe inside the global remittance system, and keep nefarious actors locked out of it—all while encouraging innovation and competition?

The Know Your Customer (KYC) protocol is a good example of this high-pressure push-and-pull. KYC regulations were originally drafted in the baroque era of institutional banking when the process of identifying clients was predicated largely on face-to-face interactions. Many of today’s regulators have modernized this protocol to allow for electronic KYC methods. Where yesterday’s bank client once stood in front of a teller waiting to be recognized, for example, mobile money users might simply scan a fingerprint. These updates allow for frictionless customer experience, but they also introduce new opportunities for bad actor’s intent on exploiting the system.

While regulators continue to wrestle with this fine balance between innovation and risk, a potential solution has emerged from a different organization altogether: the GSMA.

WHY THE GSMA MOBILE MONEY CERTIFICATION MATTERS

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. They aren’t regulators, and their suggested best practices are just that: suggestions, not binding legislation. Rather than weaken their stance, this distinction affords the GSMA even more credibility, in my opinion. Everyone has to follow regulations, after all. They’re the basic table stakes. They’re designed for enforcement. The GSMA’s suggestions, on the other hand, do something else. They rise above the table stakes. They’re designed for inspiration—that’s their strength.

The GSMA Mobile Money Certification, which launched last year, is their latest and most distinguished vehicle for inspiring the world’s best mobile money operators to reach for a new threshold of trust, transparency and consumer protection.

A PROGRAM BASED ON SECURITY AND CUSTOMER PROTECTION

Mobile operators vying for certification are independently assessed against almost 300 detailed and specific criteria, each one indexed to the highest industry standards in the world. Operators must receive an absolute perfect score to be granted certification. Some criteria align with regulatory expectations, but most are much more demanding. Each falls into one of eight important principles:

  • Safeguard customer funds against risk of loss
  • Combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and fraud
  • Manage staff, agents, and third parties correctly
  • Operate the service well and reliably
  • Ensure the security of the systems supporting the service
  • Communicate fees, T&Cs, and information transparently to customers
  • Effectively address customer service requests and complaints
  • Protect customers’ personal data.

ON TELEPIN’S PLATFORM, TIGO TANZANIA IS AMONG THE FIRST TO BE CERTIFIED

To date, eleven mobile money operators have achieved certification, representing more than 148 million customers. One of the first was Tigo Tanzania, whose Tigo Pesa app runs on Telepin’s mobile money platform.

Tigo’s journey began in 2014 when it launched Tigo Pesa, the first mobile money service in Africa. A year later, Tigo chose to replace its incumbent mobile money services provider. They wanted a partner with a more stable platform from which to launch their next phase of growth. Facing the prospect of migrating 13 million existing customer accounts, they knew they had to choose their next provider carefully. Flexibility would matter; they needed someone able to co-develop novel APIs to optimize the experience for the 100 or so billers and the 20 banks that were already active in Tigo’s system. Even more importantly, they needed a partner who could guarantee security at scale. They planned to grow fast, and as they did, they would need to keep their customers’ data secure. Trust, after all, was everything. Without it, those 13 million accounts could go elsewhere overnight.

That’s where Telepin came into the picture. Our record of world-class security and scalability earned us the contract, but it was our approach to providing Tigo’s customers with a platform that met their needs, secured their money, and kept them coming back for more which made the real difference. After a year of working together, Telepin had helped Tigo earn an 18% increase in its user base.

We helped Tigo earn something else, too: a score of 100% in the GSMA’s Mobile Money Certification assessment, as judged by an independent panel.

We’re proud of what our technology helped Tigo to achieve. But our pride as a company runs deeper than that. We’re proud to be part of history in the mobile money industry.

The GSMA’s Mobile Money Certification is the only program in the world designed to recognize mobile money operators, and its launch signifies an important inflection point in the story of this industry’s meteoric growth. Regulators will always play a necessary role in protecting consumer interests and encouraging competition, but those of us building, deploying and monitoring this technology are interested in something far greater than even the most stringent regulations require. With a robust certification program like this one challenging all of us to continually strive for an extraordinary standard of excellence, we believe this industry is capable of truly remarkable change and growth.

The views and opinions in this piece reflect those of Telepin and not necessarily those of GSMA.

Preparing telecom’s infrastructure to close the digital divide in APAC

In the run up to Mobile 360 – Digital Societies, we spoke with Suresh Sidhu, CEO, edotco Group to discuss the current infrastructure landscape across APAC and what needs to be done to advance 4G and 5G in the region.

Can you describe the telecom infrastructure landscape in Asia currently?
Asia’s telecom infrastructure landscape varies depending on the state of connectivity in each country – some countries are at the early stages of data adoption and require more standard connectivity infrastructure for coverage whereas the more advanced countries will be looking to next-generation solutions to meet increasing capacity demands.

For example, we have nations like China and South Korea with an advanced infrastructure landscape, which are equipped with next generation solutions that are ready to meet 5G connectivity requirements. On the other hand, we have developing nations like Pakistan and Bangladesh that need the right shareable infrastructure to provide connectivity in hard-to-reach areas while rolling out improved infrastructure in urban areas to meet evolving 3G and 4G connectivity demands. Apart from that, we also have countries like Malaysia who have begun adopting next-generation telecom infrastructure solutions to prepare for the increase in capacity requirements that come with 5G transition.

How does infrastructure rollouts vary from country-to-country?
Aside from coverage requirements as mentioned above, cost, regulatory standards, geographical aspects and accessibility play a role in determining infrastructure roll out as well.

Diving specifically into regulatory standards, the deployment of infrastructure is affected by a myriad of elements, which can differ right from varying license conditions and framework maturity to the availability of amenities and off grid on grid facilities. Regulation should be primarily focused on encouraging infrastructure sharing and promoting competition for improved service levels, two elements which play an important role in determining the progress, infrastructure roll out and overall telecom infrastructure landscape from country to country.

How will the infrastructure landscape change as the industry transitions towards 5G? What new technologies will we see deployed?
5G requires the densification of telecom infrastructures to realise its full potential. With the expansion of Internet-of-Things (IoT), increased interest around the development of smart cities and adoption of 5G, we will need to start planning for the right solutions that can cope with the increased capacity demands. With Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) needing more access points that are capable of handling high data rates per individual user, we’ll see an increased deployment of infill solutions such as small cells, which connects mobile devices to mobile networks over a small area using low-powered radio access points. Fibre will become a key enabler, as it will allow for the high throughput required. Integrated shared antennas hosted by neutral parties will be a key cost-effective option as well.

How can countries prepare for 5G roll out?
Many countries in Asia have been undergoing 5G trials. This helps the nation identify the issues they need to address before fully adopting 5G. Malaysia for example is now undergoing a ‘5G Testbed and Trials ‘exercise. The working group for this initiative also seeks to bring together interested parties to collaborate, develop, test and deploy proposed 5G use cases.

Ensuring regulatory standards are harmonised and supportive in terms of providing the right incentives for investments in 5G infrastructure and the development of 5G applications and services is also key. With the growing demands, we need to allow infrastructure providers to also provide active’ services such as BTS hotels and shared antennas. As I mentioned, with 5G comes increased capacity demands and countries will have to accelerate implementation of dense urban solutions: i.e. small cells, IBS and so on. Aside from the telecommunications ecosystem, key to realising this is to ensure close collaboration with other key players such as building owners, local councils, city planners, developers, shopping mall owners, regulatory and government agencies.

Last, but not least, is to ensure we do 4G well. A dense 4G national layer with great backhaul helps the right foundation for 5G deployment.

What topics will the International Infrastructure Summit at Mobile 360 – Digital Societies cover? Why is the Mobile 360 – Digital Societies event so important for the industry?
Mobile 360 – Digital Societies examines the components of a successful digital society and analyses what can be done to progress nations towards this goal. Some of the key topics that will be discussed revolves around 5G, connectivity, digital commerce, digital identity and policy making. It is vital to bring together government ministries, regulatory bodies, mobile network operates and various players from the ecosystems on one platform, so we can identify and meet the needs of a successful digital society.

Suresh Sidhu will be delivering a keynote at Mobile 360 – Digital Societies and opening the International Infrastructure Summit – The Right Stuff: Infra for a Digital Future sponsored by edotco.