Dutch operator KPN and China Unicom have announced a partnership to cooperate on IoT networks. As a result, KPN customers will have access to IoT connectivity in the Chinese market, and Unicom customers can enter the European market. The operators will use SIMs based on the GSMA standard for remote provisioning to make it easy for customers to switch providers and use local subscriptions with a single global SIM. When Unicom devices enter Europe, the SIM card will switch to the KPN network in the Netherlands and benefit from the KPN roaming coverage in Europe, and vice versa in China. The first customers will start using the services at the end of 2017.
The exponential growth of the IoT market worldwide presents the mobile operators whose networks drive IoT devices with a great opportunity—and also places the onus on them to enable their customers to benefit from these devices across national borders. This agreement between KPN and China Unicom is a step in the right direction. This deal would benefit enterprise customers of both operators. With this service, companies can distribute their IoT products and services using a single SIM, so that as movable devices enter China or the Netherlands, they can seamlessly retain coverage. IoT device makers in China will be able to enter the Dutch market, and Dutch companies will be able to enter the Chinese market.
Carolien Nijhuis, KPN’s managing director for IoT, said, “This agreement will enable our customers to become global IoT players, since we are able to handle international requests quickly and easily. We are constantly looking for strong partnerships and have found a trusted partner in China Unicom.” On the Chinese side, Unicom executives stated, “With this solution we are offering ‘one SIM, one portal, one experience’ to our customers. The partnership between China Unicom and KPN will enable Chinese and European enterprise customers to bridge the digital gap between global IoT deployments.”
As with mobile money previously, the future of the emerging IoT sphere depends on maximum interoperability. We expect that MNOs will engage in more partnerships like this one, with more and more other operators over time.