Bell Canada and BeWhere: Cost-effective cellular IoT solutions for asset tracking
Early movers in asset tracking show examples of low-powered cellular IoT devices that drive the cellular IoT market forward.
Article by Ericsson
- Insights into how BeWhere, an innovative Canadian IoT solutions developer, and communications service provider (CSP) Bell Canada successfully partnered for a joint market approach to accelerate enterprise customer acquisition and drive IoT revenue growth
- As a disrupter and first-mover, BeWhere is a market leader in asset tracking and connected sensors for cellular devices using newly deployed low-power wide-area IoT networks (LTE-M and NB-IoT)
- Bell Canada partnered with BeWhere to supplement its existing IoT solutions and Ericsson has now enabled a new business model for customers to manage their solutions through its portal.
A collaboration between Bell and BeWhere
As a Canadian-based and publicly traded company, BeWhere is an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions company that designs, develops and manufactures industrialized hardware with sensors and software applications to track real-time information on moveable assets and monitor environmental conditions. BeWhere focuses on two main areas that leverage the new LPWAN (LTE-M and NB-IoT):
- Asset tracking of outdoor equipment like construction gear, trailers and containers.
- Connected sensors to monitor environmental conditions including soil moisture, flooding and water pressure in urban supply distribution systems.
BeWhere partnered with Bell to meet the increasing demand for managing cellular connectivity of their low powered, low cost IoT devices.
The challenge: BeWhere as a disrupter and first-mover
Asset tracking of mobile equipment includes trailers, containers and generators. These are assets that do not have an onboard engine and/or power supply and can be costly to keep track of or recover for a business. Tracking can enable logistics, supply chain and transportation sectors to monitor and manage their valuable inventory and improve efficiency. As a market, asset tracking has existed for some time and the devices themselves can be very costly and power hungry. In contrast, BeWhere offers sophisticated low-cost and low-powered tracking devices, ultimately revolutionizing the current market. Because low powered cellular devices with Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Long-Term Evolution Machine Type Communications (LTE-M) technologies have low data frequency, BeWhere can provide solutions at a fraction of the cost of full 3G/4G/LTE cellular solutions.
BeWhere has established itself as a first-mover in the connected sensors emerging market, benefiting from its existing relationship with Bell and the common goal to commoditize IoT solutions to serve a new and growing demand for more data and operational intelligence, while keeping costs affordable for customers. Connected sensors offer the ability to monitor and manage a vast number of assets and their environmental conditions using the cellular network. The connected sensor market for low powered cellular is considered an emerging market. Applications include smart cities, smart agriculture and smart buildings.
Examples of BeWhere’s connected sensor solutions include:
City of Toronto: connected sensors measure pressure in the water distribution network of the city. This allows the city to act proactively and avoid major catastrophies and significant cost of repairs for example if a pipe were to burst.
Toronto Urban Forest: the Forestry department uses sensors to help measure the soil moisture for young trees which is very important for the three first years.
PCL Construction: flood sensor monitoring to detect adverse moisture conditions in new commercial construction projects.
To meet the growing demand for asset tracking and connected sensors, BeWhere works closely with solution providers such as Bell Canada.
The solution: Managing customers and connectivity together with a carrier
To manage BeWhere’s customers and connectivity, Ericsson provides the underlying platform for connectivity management with Ericsson’s IoT Platform including billing functionality, and Bell acts as the network service provider. Because of a close relationship with Bell, Ericsson has been instrumental in enabling Bell to develop a new business model. This entailed evolving from simply selling IoT network connectivity to selling end-to-end IoT enterprise solutions. This new approach has increased revenues for Bell with shorter sales cycles and a much faster IoT revenue growth rate.
Since most of BeWhere’s business is via partners and solution vendors like Bell, BeWhere has become an application enablement platform. Bell brings BeWhere directly to end-users or to their indirect channels to populate third party IoT applications like agricultural IoT vendors or telematics vendors.
The results: Valuable Enterprise and CSP benefits
BeWhere has integrated its go-to-market strategy with Bell Canada to provide their solutions through Bell Canada’s network enabling connectivity in more places and, as a result, has been able to ramp up sales at a much faster rate. Through this partnership with Bell Canada’s national salesforce, BeWhere is able to target existing enterprise customers. As a result, BeWhere was able to create efficiencies with costs relating to staffing a separate sales team, marketing and customer acquisition.
Powered by the underlying Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform, BeWhere created an IoT solution that is integrated with the Bell network and billing systems while scalable for the Bell sales channel. Working with Bell, BeWhere can also leverage the 36 global CSPs that join together to create the Ericsson IoT Accelerator global ecosystem.
Claude Arpin, IoT Senior Product Manager T at Bell Canada, on the partnership:
“The relationship with BeWhere has enabled me, as a product manager, to identify opportunities to strengthen Bell’s product portfolio. We have integrated BeWhere’s products into other solutions with partners in the transportation industry and smart city initiatives. It’s a fantastic supplement to our growing IoT product offering.”
Owen Moore, Chief Executive Officer and Director at BeWhere says:
“Engaging with Bell provided BeWhere with the significant advantage of having access before a network was available. Our partnership continued to evolve with the commercialization of our product into a distribution and sales engagement relationship. For others considering entry into the market, I couldn’t see trying to fund an internal sales team and have the success we’ve experienced without the support and relationship that Bell has afforded us.”