Mobile Ecosystem Forum foresees IoT security and sustainability standards in 2023

Dario Betti, CEO of Mobile Ecosystem Forum, talked with the trade body’s members to share their predictions for the mobile industry.

A businessman looking at a world covered in network connections.
Image: denisismagilov/Adobe Stock

While 2022 brought an end to lockdowns and a return to normalcy, it has also proved to be a challenging year, with inflation inhibiting market growth.

Will this year be better? What will it hold for the mobile industry? I asked members of the Board of Directors at Mobile Ecosystem Forum to share their thoughts on the mobile industry in 2023. These are their predictions.

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IoT security standards are coming

For Dawood Ghalaieny, CEO of Zariot, the increasing number and complexity of Internet of Things devices — and the amount of sensitive data they collect and transmit — means security is a critical concern. Ensuring the security of IoT systems is essential both for protecting the privacy and safety of individuals and organizations and for maintaining the integrity and reliability of critical infrastructure.

Consider the effect of everyone in the U.K. turning on their washing machine at the same time. Not only might it overload the national grid, but it could also lead to a temporary water shortage. Instead of washing machines, consider a similar scenario with IoT devices. As IoT devices such as EV charging points become commonplace, the risk and damage an attack might cause increases.

Unfortunately, the industry is failing to self-regulate when it comes to IoT security. Paying a premium to enforce IoT security or standards isn’t profitable, so there is no incentive for device manufacturers to worry. As a result, regulators are currently grappling with the issue and Ghalaieny expects legislation in 2023.

“This will make it more difficult for businesses to enter the IoT market and existing market players will need to be ready to develop stricter IoT security standards in response to this legislation,” Ghalaieny said. “Rather than simply pushing new products out to market, manufacturers will need to address security issues by embedding measures such as encryption, authentication, access control and vulnerability management into their IoT devices.”

SEE: Hiring Kit: IoT developer (TechRepublic Premium)

New mobile identity services

Currently, mobile operators are really struggling to find ways to grow their revenues beyond traditional services of voice, SMS and data. Jason Lunn, global connectivity and CPaaS at Cisco, says one asset mobile operators can monetize is mobile identity.

Over the coming year, Lunn expects we will see a breakout of systems whereby enterprises can query mobile operators to verify a customer’s age, address and credit status. This information is known and verified by mobile operators to establish a contract and tied to their phone number, which could become the unique identifier to verify all this information.

“It’ll be interesting to see how enterprises will take all those pieces of information and use it to formulate an opinion on a customer that can be used and monetized,” Lunn said. “It would make things much easier for customers — rather than filling out forms and completing Know Your Customer data, they could simply link their mobile number. In turn, this would also be very helpful to businesses.”

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Sustainability in the mobile industry

Lunn also believes that the mobile industry, which is a major contributor to global carbon emissions (3.5% of global CO2 emissions deriving from telecoms — double the amount from aviation), needs to take a hard look at sustainability. With the telecom industry growing very healthy, the amount of emissions will also grow unless things change quickly.

One thing that Lunn says mobile operators can do to become more sustainable is ensure their code base is as efficient as possible. That could mean using more advanced programming languages like Closure that require fewer lines of code, reducing the amount of computer power that’s required.

While this can be more difficult for older players in the market, as they will have a lot of legacy code and servers to update, for new players entering the market with more efficient technology, sustainability will suddenly become a competitive advantage. Big players need to look into sustainability and efficiency now to prepare for that coming future.

“We need a clear standard and benchmark for measuring CO2 efficiencies,” Lunn said. “If we reduce the computer power needed, how much CO2 have we actually saved? This would make it easier for enterprises to prioritize efficiencies that lead to greater sustainability.”

There is a lot of focus on sustainability and CO2 reduction at every level — from the U.N. to the U.S. tax code. Lunn thinks we will begin to see the fruits of that labor over the next year or so, with new legislation bringing clear benchmarks and responsibilities for the industry, and we need to be preparing for that change now.

From a consumer level, these changes may not become obvious for a while, but for industry players, these shifts will lay the foundations for the mobile industry of the future.

A headshot of Dario Betti.
Dario Betti

Dario Betti is the CEO of Mobile Ecosystem Forum.


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