Q&A: Mikaël Schachne on the future of 5G and connected cars

By Harry Menear
Mikaël Schachne, VP mobility and IoT business & CMO, BICS sits down with us to talk 5G, automated vehicles and their impact on smart cities...

Back in August, we sat down with Mikaël Schachne, VP of mobility and IoT business & CMO at Belgian telecom provider, BICS, to discuss the future impact that 5G and IoT are having on the way we work, live and drive in our cities. What follows is an edited Q&A highlighting the leading role that connected cars and automation will have on the future of our cities and roads. 

How are 5G and IoT helping to bring connected vehicles into the smart city ecosystem?

Connected vehicles will have an ever-increasing number of applications. These all require low latency and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-everything communications. With all of these cars and vehicles hitting our roads, the sheer density of sensors involved means 5G is a must. It’s not just our roads either – flying taxis and drones will be filling our skies in the future too. 

What are some of the benefits of connected vehicles to companies tackling challenges like fleet management?

Connected vehicles bring a host of benefits – as do the growing number of connected ‘things’ contributing to smart city growth. Manufacturers, MVNOs and MVNEs, logistics, drivers and passengers, insurance companies, city planners and local authorities, entertainment and media providers (though the list goes on), all stand to gain. 

For ease, we can split these benefits into two main parts. First, there are benefits for vertical applications such as track-and-trace for logistics. Embedding connectivity into devices and things at the point of manufacture means that their location can subsequently be tracked, making supply chains more efficient. If a white goods factory knows when a specific part will arrive, for instance, it can more easily plan the assembly of its products. 

It’s not only physical assets that can be tracked and traced either. Factors like temperature and humidity in the vehicle in which assets are transported can also be tracked in real time using connected sensors. This is particularly beneficial in ensuring an unbroken cold chain and guaranteeing the quality of products.

Second are the benefits to telematics. Connected sensors and real-time monitoring of things can alert manufacturers or users to any potential issues before they become costly and timely problems. This opens the door for things like predictive maintenance and remote diagnostics.

What is BICS doing right now in the connected vehicles space?

BICS’ global MVNO/E offering allows businesses from a wide range of industries – including those with no prior telecoms experience – to instantly connect to, and monetise, IoT use cases. Connected car manufacturers can easily access our global network, that supports 2G/3G/4G/LTE-M/NB-IoT, and soon 5G. This means that they can launch a connected proposition across numerous global regions, with the flexibility of different connectivity technologies. 

Thanks to our global network of operator partners, automotive manufacturers can ensure that their connected assets remain connected to whichever connectivity provider they choose, and in whichever region the connected endpoints are.

Manufacturers, for instance, sell the same products (whether that’s a car, a health monitor, or a fitness tracker) across many different regions. Connected services need to be available 24/7 wherever in the world a product is travelling or stationed. 

Manufacturers aren’t connectivity experts though, and that’s where BICS comes in. Our platform features a portal and APIs, with a large panel of reselling capabilities. It enables manufacturers to have local partnerships in every country to support their connected services.

We’re also helping businesses transform to become MVNOs. Our MVNE platform allows businesses to become fully independent from mobile operators, meaning they no longer have to rely on this third party for connectivity or invest sustainable time and effort in signing dozens of bilateral agreements.

What does BICS' roadmap of the ongoing relationship between 5G and IoT look like over the next year?

Our global MVNO/E is future-proof, with support for 5G being rolled out in the coming months. Over the next few years we will also be developing international 5G-specific solutions, such as those that support network slicing, across multiple countries.

We’ve also recently announced our partnership with technology solutions provider, Avnet Silica, to deliver IoT connectivity to OEMs, devices and applications. The collaboration will enable Avnet Silica to directly embed 2G, 3G, 4G, NB-IoT and LTE-M/Cat-M1 connectivity via BICS’ SIM for Things IoT global solution. We hope this will help to accelerate the deployment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) over the next year and beyond. 


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