Transforma logo

New Transforma Insights study ranks the leading global IoT Communications Service Providers

OCT 29, 2021
region: ALL vertical: ALL Internet of ThingsHyperconnectivityData SharingEdge Computing

Latest report from leading IoT industry analysts Transforma Insights highlights the need for Communications Service Providers that are serious about addressing the Internet of Things to pivot to being Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Providers. Vodafone ranks as the top global IoT CSP.

Transforma Insights today published its ‘Communications Service Provider IoT Peer Benchmarking Report 2021’ which analyses the relative strengths of 12 leading providers of global IoT connectivity in areas such as networks, platforms, vertical solutions and commercial strategy.

The market for cellular IoT connectivity has become increasingly complex and competitive recently. In these circumstances, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have to take a long hard look at their strategies and approaches to the market. There are effectively two options: find additional revenue streams or put in place systems and processes to cope with the pressures.

Pivot to be a Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Provider

This report focuses on the core role of the CSP, i.e. the provision of connectivity. To succeed in that endeavour requires a CSP to evolve to become a ‘Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Provider’. The assessment focuses on whether the CSP has put in place (or is in the process of putting in place) the necessary capabilities to deliver scalable connectivity to support at least ten times the number of devices at low cost points. The report rates each CSP based on their aptitude as Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Providers, across seven key areas (in declining order of importance) as indicated the chart below.


Vodafone is the leading IoT Communications Service Provider

Based on the assessment against those seven criteria, the top scorer in terms of having the capabilities necessary to be a Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Provider is Vodafone, followed by Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Telenor, KORE and Telia.

The opportunity associated with IoT for CSPs is not limited to the provision of connectivity. Many differentiate in other significant ways. Offering vertical solutions is one option. Many CSPs have very strong, in some cases market-leading, solutions in particular vertical markets. However, for most vertical markets the barriers to entry are high and simply pursuing a ‘me too’ approach to launching vertical solutions in every appealing segment is doomed to failure. Again, Vodafone scores highest for the strength of its vertical solution portfolio, followed by Verizon, Telefónica and Orange.

There are further opportunities in IoT associated with horizontal advisory, consulting and systems integration services. The challenge with this part of the market is that it is hard to scale. Nevertheless, it is a valuable part of the market. Those CSPs with strong consulting and systems integration capabilities include Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

The chart below summarises the Transforma Insights ranking. On the vertical axis is Hyperscale IoT Connectivity capabilities. The horizontal axis provides an aggregate score for delivering client-specific solutions, across both vertical solutions and horizontal advisory/consulting/systems integration.


It should be noted that even the highest scoring CSP still has some way to go to meet the requirements of what we consider to be an optimum Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Provider, as highlighted by author Matt Hatton: “CSPs must continue to evolve towards the goal of being a Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Provider, supporting the necessary suite of scalable technologies and capabilities necessary to profitably address the growing cellular IoT market opportunity.

About the report

Transforma Insights’ Communications Service Provider (CSP) IoT Peer Benchmarking 2021 report analyses the strategies and capabilities of twelve leading providers of global IoT connectivity: Aeris Communications, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, KORE, KPN, Orange, Tele2, Telefónica, Telenor, Telia, Verizon and Vodafone. The twelve operators have been chosen based on an analysis of dozens of operators in terms of scale and globalisation of offering.

The 82-page report leads with analysis of how the dozen operators are positioned to thrive as CSPs in IoT. Most specifically it looks at how able they are to pursue a strategy of being a Hyperscale IoT Connectivity Provider, including the seven elements of a successful hyperscale approach. It also examines other strategic approaches including moving ‘up-the-stack to address vertical solutions, layering on horizontal capabilities particularly around data analytics and management, and horizontal consulting/systems integration/support functions.

The majority of the report consists of profiles of each of the companies, featuring sections covering each of the following:

  • Background section provides information on the history of the organisation, its structure, size of the team, statistics such as numbers and types of connections, and other salient information.
  • Networks section look at capabilities to support connected devices using both public broadband (e.g. LTE and 5G) and narrowband (e.g. NB-IoT or LoRa) networks as well as private networks installed at the customer premises. This includes consideration of how able the CSP is to support connectivity around the world including via partners and alliances.
  • Middleware section focuses on a diverse set of platforms and the CSP strategies related to them, most prominently connectivity management, device management, and application enablement.
  • Data Management, including hosting, analytics and capabilities associated with post-event data management such as exchanges and trading platforms.
  • Solutions and Services covering the approach to addressing vertical sectors either through packaged propositions or through consulting and systems integration.
  • Other section which looks at competitive differentiators and capabilities not otherwise considered in the other sections. This includes security and devices.

The report is available to ‘Corporate’ level subscribers to the Transforma Insights Advisory Service. It forms part of a stream of research on IoT connectivity including recent and forthcoming reports on price erosion, the IoT MVNO landscape, and the LEO satellite market.

About Transforma Insights

Transforma Insights is a leading research firm focused on the world of Digital Transformation (DX). Led by seasoned technology industry analysts we provide advice, recommendations and decision support tools for organisations seeking to understand how new technologies will change the markets in which they operate.

For more information about Transforma Insights, please contact us at Follow us on Twitter: @transformatweet.