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Opportunities for mobile carriers are real when it comes to the Internet of Things, but action is needed, Huawei’s chief executive told a company conference on Wednesday.

“We have to have a fresh mindset, smarter networks, and a stronger ecosystem,” Deputy Chairman and Rotating CEO Ken Hu said in his keynote speech at Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London.

One example, Hu noted, is an untapped subscriber base totaling about 1 billion: the dairy cow.

A special collar placed on a cow’s neck can provide valuable information to farmers about grazing patterns, moving habits, and milk production. NB-IoT technology, meanwhile, provides greatly improved battery life, cost, and coverage that enables cows to move farther and graze longer. 

The system allows farmers to generate an additional $420 per cow each year — a 50 percent increase in profits. 

Telecom companies have thus far helped dairy farmers connect more than 1 million cows, which Hu said benefits both industries. The collar and data service also brings in $10 per cow for carriers each year.

China and the U.S. each have more than 100 million cows, and globally, Hu said the service could reach 1 billion new “subscribers.”

“A connected cow is a cash cow,” Hu said.

Other options for new connections include the 20 million shipping containers, 100 million new bicycles, 300 million LED streetlamps, and 1.8 billion water meters operating around the world, but Hu cautioned that companies need to develop new models to capitalize on IoT technology.

“With people, service connection is quite similar, but for IoT the scenarios of the connections are extremely diverse and need specialized solutions,” Hu said.

He said telecoms need a better understanding of the vertical side and to become more familiar with IoT scenarios — including establishing strong partnerships with app developers. The Chinese telecom giant envisions app-centric, data-driven networks that will eventually be self-healing, intelligent, and fully autonomous.

Although the forum’s theme for 2017 is “Mobile Reshapes the World,” Hu suggested that it should instead read, “reshape the world with mobile.”

“Mobile technology won’t change the world by itself,” Hu said. “The responsibilities are on us.”

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