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China Mobile

China Mobile, AT&T collaborate on Internet of Things to drive its deployment on the mainland

Two sides say they will develop new technology platform that will seamlessly move an AT&T business customer’s IoT subscription to China Mobile’s vast wireless domestic service

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 11:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 11:32am

China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless network operator, has agreed to collaborate with US telecommunications conglomerate AT&T to help drive the deployment of so-called Internet of Things initiatives by businesses on the mainland.

“We believe this will help unlock new options and experiences for our customers, while achieving one of our core goals – increasing the number of connected devices on our network,” Li Feng, the chairman and chief executive of China Mobile International, said in a statement released hours before Monday’s opening of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is generally described as a vast network of smart, connected devices embedded with electronics and software, which gather and send data remotely over the internet without any human interaction.

Worldwide spending on IoT is forecast to reach US$1.29 trillion by 2020, up from an estimated US$737 billion last year, led by companies in the manufacturing, transportation and utilities industries, according to technology research firm International Data Corporation.

China Mobile and AT&T said they will develop a new technology platform that will seamlessly move an AT&T business customer’s IoT subscription to China Mobile’s vast wireless domestic service.

The behind-the-scenes switch will help simplify tracking the supply chain and provide greater efficiency for AT&T’s business customers looking to expand to China, according to the US operator.

“China is one of the fastest growing markets. It holds incredible opportunity for our global business customers,” Chris Penrose, the president of IoT solutions at AT&T, said in a statement.

AT&T serves nearly 3.5 million business customers, helping connect their devices around the world.

About 59 per cent of all mobile subscribers on the mainland are now on high-speed, mobile broadband 4G networks run by China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, according to Bernstein Research.

China Mobile, which had 552.2 million 4G subscribers at the end of January, operates the world’s biggest 4G network.

“The investments by China and the United States in IoT solutions are driving these two countries to account for double-digit annual growth rates and over half of the [global] IoT spending,” IDC senior vice-president Vernon Turner said in a report last month.

Recent estimates by global management consultancy Accenture showed that measures by China to improve its capacity to absorb IoT technologies and increase such investments could translate to a 1.3 per cent boost in the country’s annual gross domestic product by 2030, cumulatively adding US$1.8 trillion to the economy by that time.

Shares of China Mobile advanced 0.29 per cent to close at HK$86.75 on Monday.