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Huawei X Labs White Paper Identifies Opportunity for Telecom Operators to Accelerate Connected Farms

May 31, 2017

[Shenzhen, China, May 31, 2017] Huawei X Labs today released a white paper that highlights the potential for telecom operators to help farmers increase efficiency and productivity through smart agriculture. The report identifies significant opportunities for telecom operators to provide end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) services to contribute to the entire agriculture value chain. Huawei X Labs estimates that by 2020 the total addressable market for telecom operators in agriculture will be USD 12.9 billion from vertical integration, partnership and marketing, and value added services.

In the face of accelerated global urbanization and the declining number of farmers, smart agriculture is becoming increasingly critical as a key measure to enhance agricultural productivity. With the expansion of smart phones and internet penetration as well as increasing adoption of technology in agriculture, better measurement and management of vital aspects of farming are foreseeable by using Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors can communicate real-time information to assess the conditions of soil, crops and the air, predict weather patterns, and monitor equipment and vehicles. Smart agriculture fosters productivity and efficiency by guiding farmers to make the best decisions at the right time for optimized production.

However, the report shows that connectivity still remains a key obstacle for smart farming as connectivity services in agriculture have not yet reached the maturity levels that they have reached in other verticals, such as retail and automotive. Additional barriers that need to be overcome to drive smart agriculture include the cost of deploying and maintaining services, lack of industry standards for data management applications, and the fragmented nature of the agriculture sector.

The report highlights that narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), which has strong industry support as an effective global standard for low power wide area (LPWA) connectivity, will deliver a step-change in the number and type of things that can be connected to the Internet by offering efficiency, the reliability of licensed spectrum, low cost, secure connectivity and a long battery life. By integrating LPWA connectivity into their existing IoT platforms, operators will be able to achieve further economies of scale, lower prices and enable new IoT applications. By collaborating with LPWA technology providers, Huawei X Labs finds that by 2020, telecom operators can generate an estimated revenue of USD 4.46 billion.

The report also provides detailed applications of IoT for smart agriculture that represent significant opportunities for telecom operators. These include precision farming, variable rate technology, smart irrigation, drones, smart greenhouse, yield monitoring, livestock monitoring, payment systems, information platform and agricultural trading platforms. In addition, the report examines smart agriculture business cases to demonstrate the benefits of smart agriculture solutions.

Qiu Heng, President of Marketing Operations, Huawei Wireless Solution, said: “Connected farm is the future of farming. Connecting, collecting and analysing data in real-time through fast and reliable IoT applications is becoming crucial as farmers need to maximize their yields while reducing their costs. Huawei X Labs report highlights the incredible opportunity open to telecom operators to expand their services beyond pure connectivity and offer end-to-end IoT services that can be used throughout the agricultural value chain. By innovating collaboratively with telecom operators, we aim to help them implement smart IoT solutions that enable the connected farm to become a reality.”

To realize the potential of IoT solutions in smart agriculture, requires collaboration among all parties in the ecosystem including telecom operators and LWPA solution providers to focus on developing innovative capabilities, technology solutions and partnerships. X Labs is Huawei's brand-new research platform for wireless networks. It intends to bring together customers, technology providers, and partners from vertical sectors to explore future mobile application scenarios, drive business and technical innovations, and build an open ecosystem. X Labs consists of three laboratories with each dedicated to explore people-to-people connections, applications for vertical industries, and applications in household.