October 4, 2023
Japanese telco Softbank has fleshed out its plan to launch Internet of Things (IoT) services in 19 additional markets.
It is going on a massive hiring spree that will quadruple the size of its IoT salesforce, and ramping up its marketing efforts. It has set a target of reaching 2 million connections across Asia-Pacific by the end of fiscal 2025, or to put it another way, March 2026.
With Transforma Insights forecasting that IoT connections in Japan and Southeast Asia will reach 3.4 billion by 2032, there is plenty of headroom there.
To help it with the heavy lifting, Softbank is relying on 1NCE, an IoT connectivity services provider based in Germany.
The company offers a range of IoT SIM cards that can connect to operator networks in 165 countries. They are compatible with 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE-M and NB-IoT. They are also 5G-ready.
There are three different types of SIM on offer. There is the basic SIM card, a rugged industrial SIM card, and a SIM chip that can be soldered directly to a device.
What is particularly eye-catching about 1NCE though are its price plans. For €10 up front, it offers a 10-year contract and 500 MB of data, with throughput of up to 1 Mbps. The industrial and SIM chip products carry an extra cost of €2 and €2.50 respectively. These two also support eSIM, enabling them to be transferred to other operator profiles and devices as needed over the lifetime of the tariff.
Predictable spend, flexibility and broad coverage are sure to be an enticing combination for any enterprise planning a cellular IoT deployment.
Softbank certainly must think so. Back in October 2021, Softbank – together with Deutsche Telekom – participated in a $50 million funding round for 1NCE. Last June, Softbank also struck a distribution deal with 1NCE that comprised those aforementioned 19 markets in APAC, but didn’t provide any further detail on its plans for regional IoT expansion.
Since then, it has been marketing 1NCE in Japan, and now it is getting ready to extend across the region. As well as supplying SIMs, 1NCE will also help Softbank launch an online store to promote their joint effort.
“While we’ve been providing IoT services primarily in Japan and contributing to the DX (digital transformation) of various industries there, going forward we’ll collaborate with strong business partners like 1NCE and leverage our expertise gained in the Japan market to fully establish ourselves in APAC,” said Daichi Nozaki, senior vice president of global business at Softbank. “Doing this, we’ll work to contribute to the digitalisation of the entire region and solve social issues.”
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