The Internet of Things featured prominently in Telstra’s AGM presentation today, which probably came as something of a surprise to many in the audience, because IoT is not something that Telstra has said much about to date.
Perhaps the most surprising piece of information, from CEO Andy Penn, was that “the Internet of Things … is the fastest growing part of our mobiles business today.”
Penn did not elaborate whether this was by connections, revenue or traffic. It’s most likely the former: IoT devices are typically low traffic and likely to be low revenue, at least on a per-device basis.
Between FY14 and FY15 Telstra grew retail mobile services from 16.0 to 16.7 million and mobile revenues from $9.7b to $10.7 billion, so either way IoT growth does not have to be particularly stellar to qualify for being the fastest growing part of the mobile business.
What’s much more significant is that Telstra chose to give so much attention to IoT in its AGM presentation – especially as IoT rated barely a mention in Telstra’s FY15 results briefing to analysts in August.
Here is summary is what was said about Telstra and IoT at the AGM
Chairman Catherine Livingstone
“Technologies are evolving rapidly, and the level of connectivity is growing exponentially, as broadband and wireless technologies become more embedded in our lives, and businesses.
Three key drivers underpin much of the change:
- Firstly, the rapid growth of video on connected devices;
- Secondly, the growth of the Internet of Things; and,
- Finally, the incredible power of cloud computing. …
Increasingly, mobile internet connections are embedded in electronics, buildings, vehicles, and other machinery, to create a vast Internet of Things. Already there are many more connected things in the world than connected people, and by 2030 it is expected that as many as 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. For example, the in-ground sensors in parking spaces detect when the permitted time limit has expired, and electronically notify the nearest parking officer.”
CEO Andy Penn
“As the chairman mentioned earlier there are three significant forces behind [the ever-growing demand for connectivity] – the growth of mobile, the emergence of cloud computing and advancements in machine learning in conjunction with big data and the internet of things. … The new significant trend is the Internet of Things. Billions of connected devices from vending machines to household appliances, aircraft engines to agricultural machinery and cars. … It is the fastest growing part of our mobiles business today.”
“The third significant area of technology innovation is machine learning and its interface with big data and the internet of things. Connected devices producing an exponential growth in the volume of data on digital networks and advanced algorithms are taking us into the world of machine learning. Through these technologies, computers can now see and hear better than humans and can learn as we provide them with more data. Software and devices can now be used to assist in diagnosis and treatments of a range of illnesses – including cancer – with speed and precision and at scale. In future, many traditional service activities will be done by computers more quickly, more cheaply and more accurately. It is these incredible global trends that are driving change in the shape and capability of our business. These trends that underpin our decisions to invest in new opportunities such as our intelligent video platform Ooyala and Telstra Health.”
In earlier blogs I’ve noted significant IoT initiatives from overseas telcos, such as Telus of Canada’s IoT app store and, most interesting, France’s leading mobile operator, Orange, announcing plans for a nationwide low powered wide area (LPWan) network for IoT.
Perhaps all Telstra’s talk of IoT is to soften up shareholders for some major IoT initiative, so that it does not come as a big surprise when it happens. The question is what, and when?