Cellular IoT connectivity? African operator MTN delivers it ‘out of the box’

Nick Earle of Eseye

With 17 mobile networks across Africa, operator MTN has been partnering with Eseye for a few years. This has now led MTN to join the AnyNet Federation, created by Eseye to grow cellular services scalably on AWS Cloud. The UK-based solution provider offers mobile network operators (MNOs) ‘out of the box’ cellular IoT connectivity and over-the-air (OTA) management. Here Jeremy Cowan, editorial director of IoT Now Tansport, talks to Nick Earle, Eseye’s chairman & CEO, to find out how MTN and its IoT customers can benefit.

IoT Now Tansport: How did the partnership between Eseye and MTN, the African mobile network operator, come about?

Nick Earle: Eseye’s Africa team has been working with MTN for a number of years, developing a relationship that has matured into MTN’s membership of the AnyNet Federation.

IoT Now Tansport: How do you provide ‘out of the box’ connectivity to integrate with AWS IoT Core? And how scalable is it?

Nick Earle: Cellular IoT is brilliant but it is also complex, with global deployments more so, and customers experience many challenges as they take their project from idea to implementation. There are decisions to be made during the planning, firmware optimisation and build stages – multiple mobile network operator partnerships are required – and the ongoing processes for the management of devices and data need to be designed and implemented.

Out-of-the-box, highly resilient, cellular connectivity and over-the-air management are an attractive proposition for IoT estate managers seeking to minimise costs, maximise revenues and to enhance brand reputations, even save lives, with successful IoT deployments. For any use case, if a site visit costs US$200 (€177), across an estate of ten thousand devices, the numbers soon add up.

To address this, Eseye has created out-of-the-box, highly resilient cellular connectivity for global IoT device deployments. Its products, technology and services enable customers to manufacture once and to deploy almost anywhere, in turn pushing valuable data onto their chosen, and increasingly important in this chain, hyperscale cloud provider.

Eseye delivers ‘out of the box’ connectivity, with OTA future-proofing through its AnyNet Secure eSIM multi-IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) technology and its Managed Connectivity Platform. This connectivity is delivered when a device is built with prepared and optimised firmware and deployed with an embedded AnyNet Secure multi-IMSI eSIM. It works because a single AnyNet Secure SIM carries multiple mobile network operator profiles that can be configured for Bootstrap use and dynamically selected for regional use.

When the device is switched on for the first time the AnyNet Secure eSIM is designed to present the Bootstrap IMSIs so that the modem can quickly register, wherever it is in the world. This connectivity connects OTA via an APN onto Eseye’s Global Managed Services Platform. The Eseye platform then steers the connectivity to the preferred, regional mobile network operator to meet the reliability and performance requirements, as well as any local legislation.

The AnyNet IMSI and Managed Services Platform then continue to steer and reconnect dynamically, enabling well designed devices to achieve connection availability of over 99.7%. Simply put, for the customer this technology means that they can manufacture a single device SKU and deploy almost anywhere in the world, with highly resilient out-of-the-box connectivity and OTA management.

Added to this is Eseye’s AnyNet Secure for AWS integrated connectivity. This is designed to be the easiest IoT cellular solution available on the market for AWS customers today. Eseye is AWS’s sole cellular connectivity partner with AWS IoT Core and Services and is tightly integrated with AWS, boasting the following unique features: It is the only sole cellular service to bill through AWS directly; the only one Provisioning through AWS directly; the only one with simplified Remote Provisioning (RCP) Technology through AWS IoT Core; and the only one with Advanced Coverage (ACA) Technology.

Jeremy Cowan

The AnyNet Secure for AWS eSIM works through a connectivity management section, created by Eseye, within the AWS IoT Console. The data is passed using MQTT for seamless posting onto the AWS IoT Core. It is then processed by the IoT Rules engine, or a LAMDA function within the cloud.

This allows all device connections from across the world, made by the AnyNet Secure multi-IMSI eSIM, to be automatically viewed, activated, certified and renewed from within an AWS Account, delivering a simple, scalable and highly secure solution for AWS customers. From single device SKU (stock-keeping unit) manufacture, single billing, single global customer support, and now highly simplified AWS IoT integration the costs of deployment, up-scaling and ongoing management are kept to a minimum.

IoT Now Tansport: I understand MTN is also working with the AnyNet Federation. Can you tell us about the Federation’s goals for growing cellular services on AWS Cloud? 

Nick Earle: The AnyNet Federation was founded by Eseye and launched at Mobile World Congress in March 2019 where MTN’s founding membership was announced. The AnyNet Federation is a new worldwide alliance for MNOs meeting the needs of IoT customers, delivering significant global cellular services onto AWS hyperscale cloud. The AnyNet Federation goals for growing cellular onto AWS cloud are to make the complex global landscape for IoT easier for their customers, by delivering a single, global, cellular M2M solution, over the AnyNet Secure Multi-IMSI eSIM and managed connectivity platform.

This can be deployed seamlessly, across major world markets and removes the requirement for multiple regional MNO contracts. The customer is billed through their AWS account and the MNO is paid, with AnyNet Federation members are always being the primary regional supplier in a global MNO network selling connectivity onto AWS.

IoT Now Tansport: Is the customer billed by AnyNet Federation partners or through their account by AWS?

Nick Earle: AWS IoT customers are billed through their AWS Marketplace account and may not even be aware which Federation network operator is connecting their device.

IoT Now Tansport: Is AnyNet able to deliver a single cellular M2M solution and management view for all markets?

Nick Earle: Yes, the single AnyNet Secure eSIM M2M solution and management view works in all markets. The AnyNet for AWS solution mirrors AWS Marketplace regions that currently span 79 countries.

IoT Now Tansport: How big is the AnyNet membership and how is Eseye supporting it?

Nick Earle: MTN are the first to join and we expect to make several new member announcements in the coming months. Eseye is supporting the AnyNet Federation by providing the business administration throughout the set-up, the AnyNet Secure eSIM and managed services platform and AWS integration technology.

Jeremy Cowan of IoT Now was talking to Nick Earle, Eseye’s chairman & CEO.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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