Exec Q&A: Paul Bullock, Group Head of MVNO at Wireless Logic

We spoke to Group Head of MVNO at Wireless Logic, Paul Bullock, about his career and the challenges faced by the IoT industry

Q&A conducted by Harry Menear

 

1. How have you found settling into your new role since September, Paul? 

“It’s been a wonderful experience – everyone at Wireless Logic really are team players and know ‘their stuff’ to make things happen. It’s great to come to work in a place where everyone is friendly and all work hard to continue to help businesses innovate and future proof through cellular connectivity. 

“We have experienced tremendous growth in recent months and have a number of interesting projects in the pipeline – I’ve joined at an exciting time and cannot wait to work with the team as we continue to grow and establish our presence in the region.”

2. What's it like working in the IoT/eSIM space at a time when trends like smart cities, big data analytics, and 5G are all intersecting?

“This is the best space in telecommunications and networking by far. The costs and capabilities of cellular internet of things (IoT) offer customers innovative solutions for local and global projects which can applied in so many areas. 

“However, at Wireless Logic we have the added benefit of overnight deployment and the ability to offer consistent solutions around the globe and cellular IoT is an ascendant technology for a widening group of customer types.

“Edge computing is particularly well suited to cellular IoT and private cellular networks – cellular is a mandatory component of pushing compute closer and closer to data origination.”

3. The IoT sector (especially OEMs) has faced scrutiny over security issues. Are there any other challenges you see facing the industry at the moment and how do you think they can be met? 

“The biggest threat to a business investing in IoT technology is its own attitude and commitment towards security. In some instances, businesses are leaving themselves open to potential threats due to a number of oversights, such as weak passwords, inadequate training or a lack of security awareness at the board table. These gaps stem from simple process deficiencies in either not following established practices or deviating from them, both of which can be kept in check if the organisation assumes the right attitude towards security.

“Investing in the people within your organisation is a great first step to promote the right mindset towards security. The simplest and easiest way to do this is to appoint a senior leader of security matters and assign responsibilities clearly, whilst investing in formal security training and cross-company awareness programmes that continually improve and enhance the knowledge of all staff.

“Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must establish trust with their customers from the start. Ensuring that all devices and solutions are ‘secure by design’ will minimise the risk of intrusion. For example, a key aspect within cellular IoT solutions is to implement fundamental secure networking to and from devices. First and foremost, businesses should opt for mobile devices that enable encrypted connectivity through a private network. Secondly, using a private APN (Access Point Name) for connectivity will minimise vulnerability and expose, by keeping the data on private networks. Then organisations can consider other techniques including device authentication and encryption.”

4. How do you see the global chip shortage affecting the IoT market this year? Is there an end in sight? How do we meet exponentially growing demand with reduced supply? 

“It’s still too early to say – the severity of the chip shortage and how it will affect future supply chains, is yet to be fully realised. Of course, there are the ongoing political tensions and the disruptions to manufacturing at the start of the pandemic, but the surge in remote or hybrid working and rise in consumer demand has placed a huge strain on the market. The demand for internet of things (IoT) from both a consumer-level and businesses has never been higher. A recent forecast by Forrester suggests that the chip shortage won’t be resolved fully until mid-next year, and naturally, this will place pressure on suppliers and manufacturers.    

“Sadly, there is no ‘quick fix’, but moving forward, we’ll need to improve the development cycle and increase production in local markets. This presents an opportunity for innovation, of course, but we’ll need to tread carefully and consider how this problem can be overcome or addresses sector by sector. In the meantime, customers will need to rely heavily on their chosen providers who can draw upon their market knowledge and expertise or partner networks to ensure that they can deliver ongoing projects.” 

5. What's on the cards for IoT in 2022 and where do you see the biggest changes/growth coming from?

“IoT is wholly normalised now and is a key instrument in driving economic and political objectives and creating new ways of operating at grand scale. The most-timely example is how IoT will help establish energy independence in Europe. Cellular IoT will be fundamental to delivering smart grids, micro-generation, micro-storage and energy trading. There has been a new raft of EU policy to help drive our economies in this direction and lay the foundations for delivering these projects. 

“We see continuing consolidation of the market in two dimensions. The first is that smaller players are running out of steam and will be integrated into larger networks. The second is that mobile network operators (MNOs) are realising that cellular IoT is best served by more agile and capable managed network providers rather than direct. This is resulting in MNOs making their networks easier to integrate through eSIM and IMSI donation but also, anecdotally, looking at whether their IoT bases are the appropriate assets to hold considering the financial pressures of consumer 5G.”

 

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