Vodafone used the first day of Mobile World Congress to unveil deals with China Mobile and Lamborghini, as the UK-based company’s CEO said he had a dream of building a connected motorway. 

The operator also revealed it was selling its stake in the joint venture company that controls Vodafone Qatar at the industry event in Barcelona.

The IoT partnership with China Mobile sees Vodafone’s enterprise customers given access to the Chinese telco’s IoT SIM cards for deployments in China.

Vodafone said it would act as a single point of contact for its enterprise IoT customers wanting to move into China.

In return, China Mobile customers wanting to offer IoT services outside of their home market will get access to Vodafone’s IoT SIM and management platform.

The two telcos also said they would explore sales opportunities for Vodafone with companies wanting to expand outside of China.

China Mobile had 200 million IoT connections at the end of last year and said it planned to increase this number by 60 percent in 2018.

Vodafone’s Global Director of IoT Stefano Gastaut said: “This is an important step in the global expansion of IoT.

“China is leading the way in IoT adoption and has the world’s largest domestic market for IoT enabled services.

“This agreement with China Mobile will give our customers a route to the exciting Chinese market and provide a bridge for China Mobile’s customers to the rest of the world.”

Gastaut was also on hand to unveil a deal Vodafone has made with luxury car manufacturer Lamborghini.

The two companies will work together to introduce worldwide connectivity that will support infotainment services in models such as the Urus.

Vodafone, which described itself as Lamborghini’s global connected car partner, will provide the Italy-based company with access to its IoT network from 2019.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Lamborghini’s Head of Connected Car Nicola Porciani said: “The connected car revolution is an exciting field.

“At Lamborghini we are committed to create a cutting edge experience for our owners and to ensure them access to the greatest technologies.

“This project with Vodafone will make us sure to keep our tradition of innovation and excellence.”

The news will no doubt please Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao, a proud Italian, who used a press conference at Mobile World Congress to say how important he thought it was for technology such as the IoT to improve society.

“We are doing crazy things,” he told journalists, citing a control system for drones and teasing a project it is working with Nokia on to put a 4G network on the moon.

But he added: “My dream is to [build] the first connected motorway.”

He did not elaborate further.

The final announcement on a busy day for Vodafone saw the operator announce it was selling its 51 percent stake in the JV that controls its opco in Qatar.

The Qatar Foundation is paying QAR1.35 billion (€301 million) for the 49 percent it does not already own in Vodafone Qatar, which had revenues of €481 million and EBITDA of €134 million last year.

The two parties have instead entered into a partner market agreement with an initial term of five years from completion.

Vivek Badrinath, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone’s Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region, said: “We have experienced great success over the years in building our joint business in Qatar and always enjoyed a strong working relationship with the Qatar Foundation.

“As the company embarks in a new phase of its journey, we now look forward to continuing our involvement with the business through a long-term, branded partnership agreement and are committed to its ongoing success.”


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