Cloud communications platform Twilio announced at Signal, its annual developer conference held in San Francisco last month, a global SIM for deploying Internet of Things (IoT) devices globally.
Evan Cummack, Principal Product Manager - IoT at Twilio, describes the new product from the San Francisco-based startup as “a single SIM with a single API running on a single platform with a single SLA and it gives you access to all of the best networks in the world.”
The objective, he said, is to solve two things for makers of cellular IoT devices — building and shipping devices all over the world and justify the cost and complexity of connecting a device.
"And so it happens that you start in one country and as you move to more countries around the world, the complexity of your supply chain grows with you. Multiple connectivity partners mean you have multiple SKUs, APIs to integrate the handset. And into the month, you end up with multiple bills, and they all have their nuanced ideas of how pricing and billing should work," he explained.
At a glance, the Twilio Super SIM allows IoT devices to connect to multiple operators and get global connectivity on a single SIM.
50 billion connected devices
Founded in 2008, Twilio enables users to use standard web languages to build voice, VoIP, and SMS apps via a web API. It counts among its clients many of the leading tech innovators, including Nordstrom, Airbnb, Lyft, Dell, Twitter, Zendesk, Hulu, VMware, Intuit, Twitch, Go Jeck and Uber.
On its IPO in 2016, it has raised $150 million at a valuation of $2 billion. Its valuation has since soared to $7.42 billion, according to Crunchbase. The company recently snapped up email communications platform Sendgrid for $2 billion to add email to its communications mix.
What does the company have to do with IoT?
“Two years ago, we launched a product called Twilio Wireless,” said Jeff Lawson, Twilio’s Co-Founder and CEO, in his keynote at Signal. “We are going to connect 50 billion devices to the Internet to power all sorts of new ideas and experiences in the coming years, and we are going to figure out the use cases for 50 billion things connected to the Internet will be accomplished by a whole lot of people.”
“Our job here is to connect every developer to any device or allow them to connect any device to a cellular network,” said Chetan Chaudhary, General Manager and VO of IoT Business Unit.
Stacy Crook, research director, IoT at IDC commented that deployments that leverage cellular connectivity can be especially tricky, as developers often have to deal with multiple carrier contracts and APIs to connect and manage their device fleets globally.
“Offerings that help simplify global cellular connectivity management for developers will be a welcome addition in the market," she said in a statement.
Cummack said Twilio has partnered with T-Mobile in the US and three other new partners for wireless connectivity —Telefonica in Latin America, the family of 3 brands in Europe, and SingTel, which has networks in Asia and the Pacific.
The playbook is using a globally distributed pure software with a multi-tenant mobile core network in the cloud.
"What it means is that wherever your devices are anywhere in the world we are going to connect you to the base network [...] and we are going to make sure your data travels on the shortest path possible all at the lowest possible in region rates,” he said.
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