7th CMI conference on ‘Mobile Communications in Developing Countries’ was a great opportunity for early researcher to share their findings regarding mobile communications in developing countries. The conference was organized by The Center for Communication, Media and Information Technologies at Alborg University, Copenhagen. This year the conference focus was on the issues regarding the development of mobile ICT in developing countries. Most of the conference papers and presentations covered the mobile markets, regulations, business strategies as well as issues related to the use of mobile communications for economic, social, and human development.
Through two days presentation and discussion session we understood the paradigms and business trend of developing countries mostly focused on Africa. New technologies are enormously changing the conventional way of corporate business, public service delivery, information accessibility and overall countries GDP growth. However, the developed countries mobile communication markets are already very saturated so that mobile companies are looking for other revenue sources than voice call. On the other hand, voice and SMS business are still booming in developing countries and internet based services is also growing promisingly. As a result, majority of the new mobile and internet consumer in the coming years will be from developing countries. So big companies like Vodafone, T-Mobile and Airtel Bharti considering developing countries a market at full-growth pace and they are interested to invest more and more in these countries.
The conference covers Network infrastructure sharing trend among African operators and mobile payment system’s success story like Kenya’s renowned service M-pesa, channeling 25% of the country’s GDP. All these presentations help to portray the current scenario of developing countries market where with my colleague Luis Martinez, we presented our analysis on potential impact and scope of IoT in developing countries titled as “M2M communications in developing countries”. Through this paper and presentation we pointed-out how M2M is an important sector for mobile operators of developing countries. In this context, our paper presents an initial study about the current status of M2M in Latin America and South Asia and Presented information remarks the potential of the considered markets to boost the growth of M2M solutions worldwide. Finally, we showed some specific requirements for M2M business models for developing countries and a description of the technical challenges to be considered at the moment of investing in M2M solutions for developing countries.
We noticed the region’s technology adoption trend is much slower than in the rest of the world. Currently, mobile operators in Latin America and South Asian regions are offering limited M2M services over 3G to LTE networks for simpler device connectivity. IoT solutions are mainly limited to vehicle tracking industry. This kind of service and the growing urge of automation and resource optimization (energy) of day-to-day system are anticipated to increase the growth of M2M market in Latin America and South Asia. But, as Voice and VAS services are still profitable for the operators they are not interested to look into other revenue sources which relatively acting as a major restraint for the growth of M2M market in these regions.
Latin America and South Asia have the world’s largest working-age population, a quarter of the world’s middle-class consumers, and the largest number of poor in the world. With more than two billion inhabitants, Latin America and South Asia are one of the most densely populated areas in the world with majority of developing countries with full of different socio-economic problem like some states of India has 62% non-technical losses such as energy theft losses. In addition, Latin American and South Asian mobile markets have dynamic type of target group. Zones with large rural mobile market actors will confront difficulties providing access to basic infrastructure and services such as electricity, education, healthcare and banking. In contrast, urban denser areas face challenges in terms of dealing with issues like congestion. So it is very difficult to assure coverage in this vast region with this user density.
In reality, these problems are driving the urge of having services that ensure security and reliability towards the society which is only possible by IoT driven services. Brazilian and Indian government already realized the importance of these services so they already changed their regulation for IoT and M2M services and other developing countries are on their way to do so. South Asian and Latin American countries are more and more looking into smart city, smart grid, mHealthcare, fleet management and other security services.
After the presentation, we had an intense discussion. The main conclusion of the discussion was, if M2M market in developing countries grows as we expected then we are going to experience a technology jump in those countries in coming future.