Much of the buzz surrounding this year’s Mobile World Congress has focused on “cool” tech innovations. There are self-driving cars, IoT-enhanced bee hives, smart textiles that monitor your health, realistic human chatbots, AI robots, and so forth. But, one piece of news that has flown relatively under the radar is the pending collaboration between carriers for 5G implementation.
A Team Effort
As Bloomberg reported, carriers from Vodafone Group Plc, Telecom Italia SpA and Telefonica SA are willing to call “a partial truce” to help each other build 5G infrastructure in an attempt “to avoid duplication and make scarce resources go further.”
Sounds great (who doesn’t love a solid team effort?!)…except for one thing: the pesky issue of competing for revenue streams in an industry fraught with financial challenges. As the Bloomberg article pointed out, “by creating more interdependent and overlapping networks, the risk is that each will find it harder to differentiate their offering.”
While this is certainly a valid concern, there is an obvious solution: If carriers are looking for differentiation in a collaborative environment, they need to leverage security as a competitive advantage.
Security as a Selling Point
As MWC19 is showing us in no uncertain terms, IoT devices—from diabetic smart socks to dairy milking monitors—are the way of the future. And they will largely be powered by 5G networks, beginning as early as this year.
Which is all to say, although carriers are nervous about setting themselves apart while they work in partnership to build 5G infrastructure, there’s a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves by claiming ownership of IoT device security.
As I recently wrote, IoT devices are especially vulnerable because of manufacturers’ priority to maintain low costs, rather than spending more on additional security features. If mobile service providers create a secure environment, they can establish a competitive advantage and reap financial rewards.
Indeed, best-of-breed security opens the possibility for capturing new revenue streams; mobile IoT businesses will pay an additional service premium for the peace of mind that their devices will be secure and can maintain 100% availability. And if a competing carrier suffers a data breach, for example, you can expect their customer attrition to become your win.
My words of advice: Collaborate. But do so while holding an ace—security—in your back pocket.