Interview: Mohsen Mohseninia of Aeris on the latest telematics developments
Aeris and Fleet World recently conducted an on-line survey online survey of fleets to help shape the future of the fleet telematics sector. Mohsen Mohseninia, Aeris VP of market development, Europe, discusses the findings with Martyn Collins.
Our survey suggests it’s important for businesses to have a telematics provider that gives them uninterrupted coverage. What guarantees regarding coverage can you give and what sort of coverage does Aeris have in the UK?
“Aeris provides wider coverage utilising the Aeris Fusion IoT Network, which is a purpose-built, intelligent network with an industry-leading connectivity management platform that is designed to capture more data about IoT devices and their connections and providing unique capabilities you can’t find anywhere else. Of course, you can’t have 100%; at the end of the day, this is a cellular network. But we are maximising the coverage, through having a multi-carrier network in each country around the world.
“The other feature of our service is that we provide non-steered network services. This means that we allow the device to connect to any network that is available, without applying any financial restriction on which network it should be connected to and which it can’t connect to.
“The DNA of Aeris services is based on service quality, rather than cost. We believe very strongly, that by focusing on service quality, we are delivering a higher value for our customers as it reduces the total cost of the service for our customers.
“We have 550 networks nationally and internationally, so in the UK, we get access to all the Vodaphone and O2 towers, and they cover 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE/LTE-M and soon-to-emerge 5G networks, including the new Low Power Wireless Area Network (LPWAN) technology. It also provides the flexibility to our customers to choose their next device for their requirements.
“So, we’re providing a future-proved, multi-technology, multi-carrier network – which provides that assurance to the customer for full and reliable coverage.”
With the way we work changing so much over the last year, according to our survey, it’s more important than ever to have real-time access to monitor performance and data use. How can Aeris help?
“Aeris partners with telematics providers, providing our Aeris Fusion IoT (Internet of Things) Network. It helps telematics service providers to deliver a better quality of service to their customers – with significantly lower total cost. So, making real-time network information data available is a core of what we do. There are often some delays but that is measured in minutes rather than hours and days, which typically helps our customers to be more responsive to events that may be impacting their service delivery and their customers.
“We deliver real-time information through multiple systems and platforms – so we provide customers access to our connectivity management platform, that we call AerPort, which enables our customers to accurately monitor all devices and their respective data consumption. AerPort can be used anytime, anyplace, anywhere – it’s in a cloud, or alternatively via a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), that the customer can use to integrate their own management platforms, for their staff to access.”
Many fleets were mothballed in the first Covid lockdown last year, but they were still incurring costs for items like data costs. Does Aeris offer the flexibility to its customers to adjust their data costs should the worst occur?
“In a word, yes. Where you saw real impact was mainly around the insurance Pay-As-You-Go/UBI or the Universal Basic Income fleet segment. Cars were parked, and not being driven.
“For that reason, we have what we call: ‘Freedom to Operate.’ What that means is we allow our customers to move their devices from one rate plan to another – without incurring any penalties. We allow our customers to suspend their connection, and we allow them to cancel.
“Typically, in the industry, every SIM will be put on a particular rate plan at the start of a billing cycle. Customers choose the best tariff for the SIM to be on, at the start of the month, for example a 2MB tariff. But if they work out that their SIM would have been better if it was on a 5MB plan, they can switch to that plan the day before the end of the month, and therefore be billed for that 5MB plan.”
Telematics providers offering single SIMs for global expansion/coverage are popular with our readership. How are single SIMs beneficial to Aeris?
“A single SIM, also known as an eSIM, is a very useful tool to help our customers to simplify and take the cost out of their supply chain. Typically, if they’re deploying in multiple places around the world, they would often look at having different SIMs for different parts of the world – USA, Europe and Asia need a SIM for each region.
“In addition, eSIM allows them to have multiple profiles in one SIM. Based on the location of the device, then the SIM will have the intelligence to choose the best profile for that deployment. That can really significantly reduce the supply chain cost.
“So, an eSIM is a useful tool in allowing customers to switch from one profile to another. That brings a degree of protection and further future-proofs the service for the customer.”
From our survey, coverage appears to be very important to our users. How can Aeris be confident that it is able to offer the same level of service globally? Or is it dependent on the country?
“We at Aeris don’t rely on any of the network components of the roaming networks, because we have built our own core network. We actually manage and bring all the data from the device to our core and process it, then send it to our customers – depending on where they are. So, the variation that exists between the networks, disappears because we have a core network of our own and everything that touches our core network, is treated the same way – with the same quality.
“We are not reliant on third parties – it is run, managed, deployed and maintained by Aeris employees. So therefore, we can be a lot more confident in providing service levels to our customer – regardless of where they deploy. We take the variation out of the equation. We have so much confidence in the uniformity of the service quality that we can deliver for our customers, that we are even prepared to put our money where our mouth is and provide our customers with punitive-based Service Level Agreements (SLAs), although they have to be willing to pay for that level of service quality.
“Finally, having more than 550 networks available across 190 countries means that the biggest problem in service quality is lack of coverage. So, by having that vast array of networks that our SIMS can roam on, coupled with our core network, this allows us to make sure our customers get the same service for their devices whether they are deploying in Kenya, Uganda, UK, US, or in Australia, as the case might be.”
It seems our readership isn’t totally satisfied with the dash cam services that their telematics providers offer. What alternatives can Aeris offer?
“The reason why they are not satisfied mainly stems from two things. One is that the service is too expensive. Or two, the quality of pictures that they get is not as good or there are disruptions in the quality of the pictures that they get or a delay. Typically, what happens is that the telematics providers get a camera, put a SIM in it, turn it on and they give it to their customers.
“In reality, without doing a fine-tune configuration of that camera and optimising its interaction with that network, those quality issues will remain. We help our customers to see in real-time the interaction between cameras and network – we show the transaction – what is the camera saying. This allows them to fine-tune the code that actually drives the camera.
“Having the core network allows us to give that customer visibility of how that device is working on the network. What is the device saying, what should it be saying and what is it getting back. This is typically done in conjunction with our sales engineers, who are experts in this, and they can help the customer better tune their devices.
“We have spent a huge amount of time and energy in developing a high data product – which we call Fusion Global High Data. This is to make sure that the service is at a cost level, allowing our customers to be more competitive, in terms of what they provide to their customers. Fusion Global High Data is one of our fastest selling products today in the European market, the reason for that is its high quality at an affordable cost.”
The control of data usage is more important than ever to our users. What safeguards does Aeris have in place to secure customers’ individual data?
“We do not hold any information that relates to the end customer that is using the telematics device. We do not look at the data that is sent, but what we do have is a set of traffic rules. This allows that device to package its data and deliver it to the other end to the customer. Through that journey, there is no information about the customer there that we are aware of – or have access to. So, in that sense we are fully GDPR-compliant.
“The only personal information that we do have is that of the staff of our customers, who we need to have access to in order to conduct business. These are billing, operations or sales people. All that information is held in the Cloud. From a security point of view, in terms of what the device sends, it’s how we make sure that it’s come from the device, we make sure that it goes to the end – and is not tampered with along the way.
“There are many features that we have in our network that facilitate that. The simplest one being the standard VPN and encryptions that we put in place between the device and the customer, to products that we call ConnectionLock. This only allows the device to communicate and receive via one particular set of end points, ensuring that the device cannot be reached by any other means and cannot talk to any other device on the network and that it can only speak to that end point. So, those are some of the features that we bring to the table for our customers – to enable them to do that.”