“Innovation is necessary in order to evolve” – an interview with Jose Ignacio Honorato from Telefónica

Innovation – a buzzword of our industry. For Jose Ignacio Honorato, Head of Mobile Devices & Smart Cards at Telefónica, innovation and close monitoring of new trends and technologies are his daily business.

Innovation is necessary in order to evolveAs one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, Telefónica is definitely shaping the market. To make sure that its customers always enjoy the latest and most secure technology it is working closely with digital security specialist Morpho. Honorato: "At the present time innovating is complicated. Everyone looks to reduce costs and tries to put a focus on the short term. In the current economic climate it is important that innovation is an investment with a clear return. Assuming these things, innovation is necessary in order to evolve." We asked Jose Ignacio Honorato to share his view on this interesting field in detail.

The first step in the deployment of new technologies is their testing and certification, which is carried out in your department. How do you approach new technologies, and what do you think will bring the most impact?

JIH: The complexity of SIM products is growing exponentially. Not only because of the inherent technical complexity of the card itself but also because of the fragmentation of devices in which they are currently used. Regarding the former, the technical complexity of the SIM, the deployment of new network technologies means that it is necessary to ensure that existing SIMs in use by customers are compatible with the new network infrastructure. For existing SIMs which are not compatible with a new network infrastructure (e.g. NFC-based services) additional effort is required to ensure that the products launched will cover the widest range of potential new services (transportation, access, financial, ...). On the second point, the fragmentation of devices in which the SIMs are used, with the emergence of the "Internet of Things" the number and variety of new devices that contain a SIM is unlimited and includes all the devices focused on the M2M world, among them the countless new types of wearables, etc. With all of these SIM cards, the OTA mechanism allows the secure and remote "correction" or reconfiguration of products out in the field with the customer, and is a critical and flexible element for any testing department. The remote post-sales support which OTA provides is increasingly important, since it is virtually impossible to test everything (prevention); at least you have the mechanisms to tackle bottlenecks in real time and remotely (reaction). This is especially important in equipment which is difficult to access, typically M2M devices, as often with these deployments you cannot easily recover or replace the SIM.

There is much talk of M2M, NFC and LTE. From your everyday life and experience, how do you see their current developments? What actions should be taken to accelerate their mass adoption?

JIH: The deployment of high speed networks (UBB, ultrafast broadband) is a fact and there is a real competition to be the first to deploy and incorporate these new services on / technologies (LTEA, eMBMS, multicarrier CA, Femtos / SmallCells). Related to the SIM, from our point of view there has been a lot of noise and some mixed messages regarding "LTE SIM". LTE deployments require the use of a USIM and the authentication algorithm Milenage, and in certain scenarios or when certain services are incorporated into these LTE networks, the cards may require certain releases with additional functionalities.

M2M is a great opportunity for the SIM community, and currently the deployment is progressive but slower than forecast. This is due to the need for new M2M services or functionality, and also because some legacy consumer applications are now relevant again in these more controlled environments. For example, issues around Quality of Service measurements or KPIs, event monitoring, remote control, etc. make sense now. M2M is also providing additional traction for certain features to the consumer world. Technologies that will be viable in the consumer world are materializing through the positive experience in the M2M world. This is the case, for example, with complex features, such as changing subscriptions OTA.

The case for NFC generates more questions. With a clear role for the SIM card (its contribution in terms of security is critical), and ecosystem complexity, the number of actors involved and deployment costs are adding complexity to mass deployment. In this context, we certainly see intermediate solutions that try to avoid these barriers in the environment.

Where do we see innovation, and what do you expect from an innovation partner of Telefónica such as Morpho?

JIH: Innovation is seen in all aspects of new devices and to provide automatic "intelligence." I mean those aspects that are normally performed in a transparent manner for the user but that make life easier for the customer or the operator. In many cases innovation optimizes processes or creates new models. At a high level we see two models of support: a proactive approach where Morpho, based on their R&D and their experience in other countries, are proposing technologies, pilots, etc.; and another, reactive approach, in which Telefónica identifies areas of work that needs to be undertaken and requires cooperation with Morpho. As with most companies, at Morpho and Telefónica resources are not infinite, and in the spirit of partnership we seek to identify together those projects that have broad support within our business units. Working together we can ensure that innovation delivers new and useful capability to our customers and real commercial opportunities for both of us.