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Märt Kroodo, CEO, 1oT: On using eSIM technology to solve IoT connectivity – and where telcos stand

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For the Internet of Things (IoT), the vast majority of hype which gets bandied about is with regards to the sheer number of devices being connected. An article from McKinsey put this number at 127 new devices every second. Yet peel back the first layer of the onion and you get to the connectivity aspect itself, vital in its own right.

Meet 1oT. The company, a provider of cellular connectivity for IoT device makers, is based out of Estonia. The European country has various advanced emerging technology initiatives in place, not least its feted e-Estonia digital society, so it is no surprise that a thriving tech ecosystem exists.

1oT aims to solve the connectivity problem for providers across a global base, saving headaches with separate carriers, SIM cards, and device configurations. Ahead of IoT Tech Expo Global in London later this month, where 1oT is exhibiting, IoT News spoke with Märt Kroodo, CEO and founder of 1oT, around the company’s goals, the roadmap for IoT technologies, and where telcos stand in this new outlook.

IoT News: Hi Märt. Tell us briefly about your career to date and how you came to found 1oT?

Märt Kroodo: I got a Master’s degree in finance from the University of Portsmouth in the UK. Afterward, I kicked off my career in the field of stock analysis, but this got boring after about three years, and I moved over to Ernst & Young. There I focused on consulting with companies on fundraising and M&A activities.

One of the first clients happened to be Click & Grow, an Estonian startup developing urban farming technology. They were in search of another investor, which I failed to find as a consultant, but I decided to join the startup as a team member to finish the job.

During my time at Click & Grow, we moved our headquarters to the US and joined Y Combinator, the world’s most acknowledged startup accelerator that has helped push Dropbox and Airbnb to the market. Additionally, we moved our production to China and raised another 2 million dollars for the company.

One of the investors in Click & Grow was Mobi Solutions, an Estonian company that has launched many services built on top of telecoms, such as Fortumo & Messente. Soon after leaving Click & Grow, I sat down with Mobi Solutions and decided to found 1oT.

IoT: What role does 1oT fill in the market which no other company can provide?

MK: We are a truly independent connectivity provider and the market leader in providing a full eSIM experience for startups & SMEs. There is no other independent eSIM provider that gives a transparent self-service platform, where the client can control their eSIM and compare the pricing of different telecoms. We like to think of it as a telecom “Tinder”. Also, we take great pride in supporting clients with hardware related questions, which at the current stage of eSIM infrastructure is crucial for successful deployments.

IoT: Tell me about 1oT’s usage of eSIM technology as part of the company’s business case? What have prospective customers been saying?

MK: From both prospective or paying customers, we are only hearing positive feedback about our use of eSIM (eUICC) technology. Who wouldn’t enjoy having full flexibility to swap carrier deal over-the-air without the need to change SIM card inside the device? Firstly, prospective customers can be certain of global coverage and reasonable data prices no matter the region. Secondly, they can send their devices to hard-to-access areas because all the management happens over-the-air.

This offers peace of mind that only a few large enterprises have had the luxury to enjoy before. That is also the reason why we became the market leader in providing connectivity to e-scooter sharing companies throughout the world. They needed a quick and scalable solution for getting connectivity to avoid negotiations with different telecoms, different SIM cards & configurations and one flexible service for their global deployments.

Companies today are not buying MBs and GBs from telecoms – they want the full package, from a self-service subscription management platform, flexibility in pricing, to hardware support

IoT: Where do telcos/operators fit in this landscape going forward – as a chunk of their business case has traditionally been in IP, arrangements with infrastructure providers, etc?

MK: From the telco’s perspective, 1oT is bundling smaller IoT and M2M companies together to bring their traffic to telecoms. In this sense, we are considered as a sales channel for telecoms, particularly in the IoT vertical as we have developed very IoT specific product offerings that none of the telecoms can match. Independent middlemen like 1oT are even more crucial in the eSIM world and the market needs non-biased players that integrate many telecoms under one service and therefore we provide value that telecoms cannot offer with their eSIM services alone.

Today, companies are not buying MBs and GBs from telecoms. They want the full package from a self-service subscription management platform, flexibility in pricing and commitments, to competent hardware support.

IoT: Aside from interoperability – what other factors have to be considered before IoT technologies truly become mainstream in your opinion and why?

MK: In the most basic terms, we are trying to make sense of the connectivity world for our customers. Almost all of our customers who used other telecom services before coming to us say that they don’t understand why it all was made to be so complicated.

We are solving the fundamental issue of the IoT market – connectivity. There are 750 telecoms and 1250 virtual telecoms on the market. Additionally, there are multiple GSMA licensed cellular technologies and unlicensed technologies to choose from. Plus, if you only focus on cellular technology, there are countries with permanent roaming restrictions. To complicate matters even more, newcomers like NB-IoT & Cat-M1 are not mature enough due to the lack of roaming agreements.

Our number one goal is to help IoT device makers and service providers with connectivity so that they can focus on their core business. That’s improving the product, supporting their customers, and scaling to new markets, not spending time in contract negotiations with telecoms.

IoT: What role does Estonia have to play as a potential European powerhouse for emerging technology implementation (e.g. IoT connectivity, e-Estonia digital society) in your opinion?

MK: Estonia has been a frontrunner in the early adoption of new technologies and innovative tech solutions. As the telecommunications industry has traditionally been driven by large multinational telecom groups, there has been a lack of innovative and agile companies that have entered the market. We see 1oT as a key example of what the Estonian startup mindset can achieve in this industry as we are bridging the gap between smaller innovative tech companies and the larger telecommunications industry as a whole. At the end of the day, Estonia has already disrupted telecommunication with Skype (it was built in Estonia) and we see that 1oT can do the same with the connectivity side of the telecom world.

Also, there have been many other industries where Estonia has become well known as a European powerhouse, namely software development, and we see this trend expanding into other industries, such as telecommunications and IoT, that may have suffered from new ideas not being able to enter the market as quickly as they should to react to demand.

IoT: What are you looking forward to most at the IoT Tech Expo next month and what are you hoping to gain from the event?

MK: First and foremost, I’m hoping to see new surprising IoT use cases. Secondly, our team is eager to talk to IoT startups who are about to scale their business globally. The crazier idea, the better. Hearing all those plans are strongly driving our team as well. That rapid growth stage is one of the most exciting periods for any company. And it’s exciting to be part of those journeys and support them with their connectivity needs with 1oT’s complete eSIM solution.

https://123news.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/iot-tech-expo-world-series.pngInterested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

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Hats off to the UK for smartphone unlocking laws, and more tech news today

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Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, 27 October 2020

1. UK bans locked phones, hooray!

The UK has announced a ban on the sale of network-locked phones, finally ending one of the vices that carriers try and use to keep you loyal to them.

  • The BBC reported that while it typically costs about £10 to get a locked smartphone unlocked, studies showed that’s not the full story, with half of all those who try to do so experience difficulties:
  • “These [difficulities] can include facing a long wait to receive the code needed to trigger the process, as well as then finding that the code does not work.”
  • “We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked. So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort — and help them unlock better deals,” Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha was quoted as saying on the regulator’s website.

Finally: 

  • This is a welcome change, with most reactions saying finally, this is long overdue, and so on.
  • While some carriers in the UK were already keeping phones unlocked, the likes of giants including Vodafone and BT were not, and will now need to comply by December, 2021. Which isn’t soon enough really, but at least it will come into place.
  • The whole practice was a great scheme for carriers but really made little sense in any other business model in the world, where consumers pay for devices they can only use while paying a certain company. Telecommunications is unique, and carriers will always wield power when they can get away with it.

Elsewhere?

  • In Europe, this is generally the case already, and in Singapore, for example, locked phones are banned.
  • In Australia phones are generally unlocked too, except in some cases with prepaid phones where phones are often affordable but made cheaper through locks.
  • In South Africa, major carrier Vodacom started adding locks as recently as a year ago, reversing previous unlocked phones.
  • And of course, there’s the US, where locked phones are much more common. Some devices may only be compatible with specific networks too. For example, some phones like the OnePlus 7T require a specific Verizon variant as the standard unlocked model doesn’t work on Verizon. Which is strange!
  • Verizon, for example, keeps a lock for 60 days after purchase before then unlocking. And it’s completely legal to unlock a phone, which leads to guides like ‘How to unlock a Verizon phone’ being popular, for Verizon’s pre-paid devices.
  • Otherwise, unlocking a phone locked to AT&T on a contract may require that you’ve paid out a 24-month plan already and jumping through various hoops.
  • It may be that moves like this commendable one from the UK regulator heaps pressure on other countries, too.

2. The OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 were announced yesterday with the leaks right on the money. They’re more affordable or budget phones with headphone jacks, and with microSD card slots for the first time for OnePlus phones. We don’t know pricing yet but it’s going to be in a battle with the likes of the Google Pixel 4a and iPhone SE for the N10 (Android Authority). And wait, wasn’t every OnePlus phone supposed to have a high refresh rate screen? (Android Authority).


3. Samsung Galaxy S30 Ultra specs leak: An S20 Ultra with a new coat? Oh, and don’t expect a charger or earphones in the Galaxy S30’s box (Android Authority).


4. Fairphone 3 Plus review: Sustainability comes with compromises (The Verge).


5. Facebook is the latest to jump into mobile cloud gaming. I had a look, the games on offer are …extremely Facebook. Plus, digs at Apple’s iOS policies (Android Authority).


6. Microsoft adds mouse and trackpad support to Office apps on iPad (Engadget).


7. iPhone 12 drop test confirms the new screen helps durability, to an extent (Engadget).


8. Roku Ultra 2020 review: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, which makes it a tough sell over the Roku Streaming Stick Plus which is half the cost (CNET).


9. AMD agrees to buy Xilinx for $35 billion in stock, which may open up 5G and automotive electronics as Xilinx invented the FGPA (NY Times)


10. “Sometimes I think of how cakes are a miracle.” (Twitter)


11. Moon holds more water in more places than ever thought — but don’t overdo it. “To be clear, this is not puddles of water,” stressed lead researcher Casey Honniball (AP).


The DGiT Daily delivers a daily email that keeps you ahead of the curve for all tech news, opinions, and links to what’s going down in the planet’s most important field. You get all the context and insight you need, and all with a touch of fun. Plus! Rotating daily fun for each day of the week, like Wednesday Weirdness. Join in!



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Apple to charge more for apps in India and five other countries

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By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

October 27, 2020 11:43:30 am


apple app store price hike, app store price hike india, app store prices revision, apple app store controversy, apple app store tax, app store tax on developersApple App Store prices set to be increased in six countries (File Photo)

Apple announced on Monday that it will charge more apps in India, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa in the next few days. This change will apply to in-app purchases as well and the developer will receive updated price tier charts informing them about the change in prices of their apps. Specifically for India, there will be an increase of two per cent in addition to the goods and services tax of 18 per cent which is already in place. On the other hand, in Indonesia foreign developers will have to bear the burden of an additional 10 per cent tax.

“When taxes or foreign exchange rates change, we sometimes need to update prices on the App Store,” the Cupertino-giant said in the announcement posted on its developer website.

There is no confirmation whether the increase in prices will be applicable or not for other services like Apple Music, Apple TV+ and iCloud. On the other hand, this increase will apply on auto-renewable subscriptions as well. Also, it is yet to be clarified as to when the App Store users will be able to see these changes.

The statement further mentioned, “You can download the updated price tier charts now. Once these changes go into effect, the Pricing and Availability section of My Apps will be updated, and your proceeds will be adjusted accordingly and calculated based on the tax-exclusive price. You can change the price of your apps and in-app purchases (including auto-renewable subscriptions) at any time in App Store Connect. If you offer subscriptions, you can choose to preserve prices for existing subscribers.”

ALSO READ | Fortnite controversies timeline: All the news about the world’s most popular video game

In the near future, the prices of Albania and Iceland as per the other markets with value-added tax selling in US dollars. However, this is not the first instance where Apple has made changes in App store prices for specific countries. The prices were revised in Japan last year. Also, the last time India prices were revised was in the first quarter of 2017.

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Italy has reportedly blocked a 5G deal between Huawei and Fastweb

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Italy has reportedly blocked a 5G deal between Huawei and Swisscom-owned telco Fastweb.

According to multiple sources for Reuters, the Italian government stepped in to block a deal for Huawei to supply Fastweb with 5G core network equipment.

Many European countries have either banned or restricted the use of Huawei’s equipment but Rome is yet to announce its stance. If the reports are true, it would seem Italy looks set to take a strong stance against the Chinese vendor.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Italy in September and warned that Huawei poses a threat to national security.

Back in January, the UK decided to allow Huawei’s gear but with restrictions on the percentage of equipment which can be used in any network. Another stipulation was that Huawei’s equipment cannot be installed near sensitive locations such as military bases and nuclear plants.

However, the decision received significant backlash from allies, several MPs, and even human rights groups.

“Huawei is not a sort of ordinary international telecommunications company, it’s an intimate part of the Chinese state,” former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge in July. “And if you know anything about Chinese military strategy, they talk about the fusion of civil and military capabilities.”

Following another security review, the UK decided to ban Huawei’s equipment after deeming the risk too high in the wake of US sanctions which prevented the vendor’s access to American technology.

Several other countries announced bans on Huawei’s equipment in the months after the UK reassessed its position.

Last week, Sweden banned Huawei and ZTE from its rollout of 5G networks. In a statement, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority said that the “influence of China’s one-party state over the country’s private sector brings with it strong incentives for privately-owned companies to act in accordance with state goals and the communist party’s national strategies.”

The UK has launched consultations with its close allies – particularly those within the Five Eyes security relationship – to fund and procure alternatives to Huawei’s equipment.

Huawei has rejected all the allegations that it poses a security threat and has offered in several countries, including Italy, to undergo any scrutiny to prove its equipment is safe to use.

The Associated Press is reporting that Bulgaria, Kosovo, and North Macedonia have joined the so-called ‘clean network’ effort launched by the US. The EU has so far avoided taking an official stance on the matter.

(Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash)

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located 5G Expo, IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

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