Connecting the Americas with the Internet of Things: Recommendations from CITEL

Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure to represent AT&T at CITEL PCC.I – the Permanent Consultative Committee I of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission. CITEL is an entity of the Organization of American States that works with 35 Member States across the Americas to support economic and social development through communications. CITEL focuses on promoting infrastructure deployment, harmonization of spectrum, technology training, and helping countries create communications plans. PCC.I examines a wide range of telecom and information and communications technology (ICT) policy and standardization matters.

The day before our most recent PCC.I meeting in El Salvador, the rapporteur group I co-chair with Qualcomm Brazil organized a full day seminar on “The Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Communications – Approaches in the Americas.” The goal of the workshop was to share information on IoT use cases in the region and to discuss policy frameworks that can encourage even further growth in IoT adoption.

With devices crossing borders and the need for businesses to be able to easily deploy, having an interoperable approach across the region is important to the success of IoT.

IoT is enabling connections between devices and machines. It’s also delivering information that people and businesses can use to make tangible changes – helping make work and life better. With devices crossing borders and the need for businesses to be able to easily deploy, having an interoperable approach across the region is important to the success of IoT.

Building on the workshop discussions and previous contributions shared by Member States and Sector Members on their experiences, PCC.I adopted a new Recommendation that offers the following policy guidance:

  1. That the Member States employ flexible regulations developed through government and industry collaboration to encourage the development and adoption of IoT/M2M services throughout the region. In addition to telecommunications and ICTs, regulations in key adjacent industries, e.g., public utilities, healthcare, and transportation, among others, should also enable the development and adoption of IoT/M2M services.
  2. That the Member States monitor market developments to support IoT/M2M services.
  3. That the Member States establish, as a general principle, the principle of technological neutrality with regard to IoT/M2M services and not impose regulatory limitations related to the type of technology used for IoT/M2M implementation, thereby allowing operators to freely choose the most suitable technology for the provision of services.
  4. That the Member States allow for the extra-territorial use of numbering resources (i.e., E.164 and E.212 numbers) to support global IoT/M2M business models and the development of innovative products and services, while not compromising public security or national sovereignty.
  5. That the Member States foster collaboration with industry to encourage the adoption of appropriate security measures with regard to IoT/M2M services, including in their respective value chains and educating end users on IoT/M2M services, to avoid cyber vulnerabilities and prevent cyber-attacks.
  6. That the Member States foster their data protection frameworks to enable cross-border data flows between a machine located in the respective Member State and a machine in another country, recognizing the balance between the need for collection, processing and use of data and the end-users’ need for an appropriate level of privacy.
  7. That the Member States review equipment certification requirements to facilitate the adoption of IoT/M2M services, where warranted.
  8. That the Member States consider the implementation of tax exemptions or incentives to promote investment and research and development in IoT/M2M services.

The Recommendation provides a valuable framework for driving IoT and its economic benefits. Connectivity – fast, highly secure and mobile – is the engine powering the global economy. It’s helping create a better, more sustainable world – from connected cars and homes and healthcare applications; to smarter, more resilient energy grids; to tools that help cities manage traffic to reduce pollution and enable farmers to more easily monitor and manage their crops, livestock and equipment.

AT&T had nearly 28 million connected devices on our network at the end of the first quarter of 2016, including the Americas. In that quarter, we added 1.6 million. Consumers and businesses across the globe are looking for new and innovative solutions that make our lives easier and drive efficiency. If we can keep our policies flexible to enable its continued growth, the more people and businesses in the region will reap the socio-economic benefits IoT has to offer.