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Mar 04, 2019

How Does an Icebox Pay for a Data Plan?

By Junko Yoshida – EE Times

Every chip company selling modem ICs into cellular IoT devices must worry how their customers — device manufacturers — expect to make money on IoT.

It’s all about ‘provisioning’
Fortunately, more tech companies were talking about IoT monetization at the Mobile World Congress last week.

Altair Semiconductor, a Sony company, is one. Altair last fall announced its collaboration with Giesecke-Devrient Mobile Security (G+D) to integrate a Subscriber Identify Modules (SIM) card into Alter’s modem chip set.

With the announcement, Altair promised to integrate G+D’s SIM solution with Altair’s ALT1250 chipset and AT&T’s nationwide U.S. LTE-M network. The goal is to make commercially available integrated SIM by the first half of 2019.

When we caught up with Altair CEO Oded Melamed at the show last week, we asked why this is so important. He explained that IoT growth depends on a secure and scalable digital subscriber model for cellular-connected devices. If IoT devices can be provisioned much like mobile devices, monetizing them is straightforward for operators. “It’s all about provisioning,” he said.

Altair is optimistic about the cellular IoT market.

Melamed told us, “The coverage is finally here. When it comes to CAT-M, we already have a 100 percent coverage both in Japan and the United States.” With a broader coverage and better cost of solution (for hardware and services), which is “getting more affordable,” he said, the only remaining issue is ease of use. “With integrated SIM in the cellular modem, we are solving that problem, too.”

Among several devices — with Altair’s cellular IoT modem designed in — demonstrated at the show, Truphone unveiled what the company calls “the world’s first fully GSMA-compliant embedded SIM (eSIM) functionality on an IoT module.”

 

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