Vodafone teams up with China Mobile to drive global IoT expansion

Vodafone teams up with China Mobile to drive global IoT expansion

A new deal see Vodafone IoT customers get access to China, while China Mobile customers gain access to rest of the world.

Vodafone has announced a new partnership that will see Vodafone IoT customers gain access to the Chinese market, while China Mobile customers gain access to the rest of the world.

Under the new agreement, each company will share new Internet of Things (IoT) project opportunities. Vodafone customers will have access to China Mobile IoT SIMS for deployments in China, and China Mobile customers will be able to use Vodafone’s Global IoT SIM and management platform to offer IoT-enabled products outside of China.

According to a statement released by Vodafone, it will manage all elements of the operational model for its customers, including onboarding, SIMs, and logistics, as well as billing and support. The company will effectively act as a single point of contact for enterprise IoT customers wanting to move into China.

In return, China Mobile will discuss the possibility of IoT sales opportunities with Vodafone for companies wanting to expand outside of China.

Expansion is important step

Vodafone’s global director of IoT, Stefano Gastaut, said that this is an “important step” in the global expansion of the IoT.

“China is leading the way in IoT adoption and has the world’s largest domestic market for IoT-enabled services. This agreement with China Mobile will give our customers a route to the exciting Chinese market and provide a bridge for China Mobile’s customers to the rest of the world,” he said.

China Mobile International’s head of Mobile Business Partnership, Dorothy Lin, said that having made over 200 million IoT connections last year, the company’s target in 2018 is to increase that figure by 60 per cent.

“Together with Vodafone, we will be able to offer customers the greatest possible reach in regard to IoT services. We are excited about the opportunities this agreement will bring to both companies and the industry as a whole,” she added.

Internet of Business says

China’s commitment to automation, the IoT, AI, and robotics is second to none, and its IT and electronics sectors are booming. However, there should be a note of caution for any companies looking to expand IoT services in China, and that has to do with the Chinese government’s plans for the technologies over the next few years.

China is rolling out a compulsory, Uber-style social ratings system, the stated aim of which is to monitor citizens’ behaviour across every aspect of their lives, using AI, the IoT, facial recognition systems, and more. Anyone who fails to conform to the authorities’ concept of a ‘good citizen’ risks being made into an outcast from Chinese society, in some cases denied the right to travel, buy goods, or be allowed access to basic services, according to the plans.

To enter the Chinese IoT market, therefore, would be to participate in an unprecedented experiment in IT-enabled social control. Vodafone’s customers may be overjoyed at gaining access to a self-contained market of over one billion people, but should be wary of exactly what they are agreeing to, and why.

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