M2M Monthly: a guide to recent machine-to-machine and IoT developments

15 Dec 2016

Telia Norge has announced the launch of a commercial NB-IoT network – claiming a first for Scandinavia in the process. The telco’s initial focus is on the ‘Smart Agriculture’ sector, and its solution has been developed in conjunction with local company 7Sense, and designed to make irrigation systems more convenient and accurate. Abraham Foss, CEO of Telia Norge, commented: ‘This is the start of the rollout of a technology that represents a new industrial revolution. It also marks a milestone on a journey where Telia goes from being a pure mobile operator to become a modern technology company that aims to be a digital facilitator in society.’

In the trial space Telekom Austria Group has become the latest operator to test NB-IoT technology on its live network in Austria. A network was set up in Moenchhof in Burgenland, east Austria, with an Intel modem connected to a sensor to track temperature, air pressure and humidity. Each metric was transmitted in real time and findings were depicted on a graphic interface.

Further, an electrical energy smart meter using 4.5G NB-IoT technology was successfully tested in Portugal last month, with domestic telco NOS underpinning the project by deploying the entire 4.5G NB-loT network based on Huawei infrastructure. Huawei and Janz CE have designed and manufactured the new meter, using modules from u-blox, EDP Distribuicao and NOS.

Going forward, Orange Belgium has announced that it will implement NB-IoT and LTE-M on its mobile network in 2017. The rollout of both technologies will involve a simple software upgrade to Orange’s existing 4G network, which currently covers 99.8% of the Belgian population. Both technologies will be operational in the first half of 2017, and will cover the entire national territory in 2017. Initially, the networks will be used for tests with Orange, its partners, and its business clients, before being launched commercially in the second half of 2017.

Elsewhere, Vodafone Ireland has revealed that it will launch an NB-IoT service in January. Light Reading quotes Lauren Morris, manager of Vodafone Ireland’s IoT business, as telling attendees at the recent IoT World 2016 event in Dublin that NB-IoT would be available for testing in the Irish market from January, with a full commercial launch to follow.

In Latin America, Orange Group and Porto Seguro Conecta are collaborating to support IoT projects in Brazil to meet the demand from multinational corporations. The agreement has enabled Orange to provide its global customers with IoT coverage in Brazil through the MVNO’s established platform. Orange claimed that Porto Seguro Conecta’s extensive experience in IoT connections in Brazil – primarily used for tracking car and residential alarms and IoT applications – is instrumental to the agreement.

Latvian operator Lattelecom has announced plans to launch Latvia’s first IoT network in capital city Riga, in 2017. The network will use LoRaWAN technology, and initially be used to enable and manage city-level services. The new platform has been successfully tested in Riga and several other cities in Latvia, while a nationwide rollout will be dictated by the level of interest expressed by local municipalities and enterprises.

India’s Reliance Group has partnered with Cisco Jasper to launch a new venture – named UNLIMIT – to provide Indian enterprises with IoT solutions. As such, Reliance claims to be the first Indian telecoms provider to set up a dedicated IoT business unit.

Meanwhile, according to the Saudi Gazette, Mobily of Saudi Arabia has also tapped Cisco Jasper for an M2M/IoT solution. The newspaper notes that the new platform is now completely hosted at Mobily’s data centres, and is available Kingdom-wide.

Dutch telco KPN, in conjunction with vendor duo Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, has successfully conducted Europe’s first trial of Cat-M1 (also known as LTE-M) technology in the operator’s test labs in the Netherlands, using the MDM9206 LTE modem. Cat-M1 supports mobility and medium bitrates, allowing for a wider range of IoT use cases – including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), wearables and smart metering for utilities. The network and device testing of data communication on Cat-M1 – a new 3GPP standard for IoT use cases and scenarios – utilised the 800MHz frequency band.

ZTE has confirmed that its smart on-board diagnostics (OBD) connection solution had been selected by Telia, to power its telematics service, Telia Sense, which launched in Sweden on 1 November. Telia Sense combines ZTE’s IoT device, developed by ZTEWelink, a subsidiary of ZTE that focuses on M2M/IoT, with a cloud-based platform and app from SpringWorks, a telematics platform provider.

SK Telecom (SKT), Ericsson and BMW have announced what they described as ‘the most advanced 5G outdoor mobility trial, including the first multi-vehicular 5G trials’. The trial was conducted successfully on a 5G test network installed at the advanced BMW car test track in Yeongjong-do, South Korea. The trial with the connected test cars was said to have demonstrated that 5G performance will support V2X (Vehicular Connectivity) services that require low latency and consistent high bi-directional throughput.

Gemalto is supplying its LinqUS On-Demand Connectivity (ODC) subscription management solution and GSMA compliant Embedded SIMs (eSIMs) to China Mobile. As a result, a new subscription profile can be securely provisioned in any cars equipped with an eSIM, and end-users will enjoy in-car connected services throughout the lifecycle of the car, such as infotainment, navigation support, safety or vehicle diagnostic.

France-based SIGFOX, which describes itself as the world’s leading provider of connectivity for IoT, and Thinxtra, the SIGFOX operator in Australia and New Zealand, have announced an agreement to roll out SIGFOX’s IoT network in Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) in 2017. According to a press release, the Hong Kong government has addressed the importance of IoT in its agenda, and having recognised it in the ‘2014 Digital 21’ blueprint for ICT development, introduced a new initiative ‘Energizing Kowloon East’ the following year with the express aim of carrying out a pilot study in that district to examine the feasibility of developing a Smart City there.

Meanwhile, SIGFOX and Omantel have announced plans to deploy the former’s IoT network in the Sultanate. Omantel will work closely with SIGFOX’s global IoT ecosystem, including manufacturers of components and objects, to offer a wide variety of connected solutions for smart applications, energy efficiency, agriculture, security and other uses. The companies expect to offer network coverage to 85% of Oman’s population within 18 months. According to unverified local press reports, the two companies have gone as far as forming a 55/45 JV called Internet of Things LLC, with Omantel holding the larger stake.

Sticking with SIGFOX, the IoT provider has teamed up with Connected Finland, the exclusive SIGFOX operator in Finland, to extend their partnership to Estonia, via Connected Baltics. Rodolphe Baronnet-Fruges, SIGFOX executive vice-president (networks & operators), commented: ‘Estonia is producing more start-ups per head of population than any other country in Europe. The country also has one of the world’s most advanced e-governments that have paved the way for a number of globally successful Estonian start-ups and built a huge community of developers.’ SIGFOX expects to be active in 30 countries by the end of 2016.

Finally, SIGFOX has revealed ambitions to go public in 2018, with the aim of connecting 100 million devices to its low power wide area (LPWA) network in two years. The news comes after it raised EUR150 million to fuel its global expansion last month, taking its total funding to EUR300 million. Investors include the French government, Salesforce and operator Telefonica. Speaking to The Financial Times in an interview, Ludovic Le Moan, SIGFOX CEO, commented: ‘We made EUR12 million last year, over EUR30 million this year and our goal is to cross EUR100 million in 2018 and go public. The goal of this round is to be the last fundraising before doing an IPO and providing liquidity to our shareholders.’

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Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Estonia, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, A1 Telekom Austria Group, China Mobile, Cisco Jasper, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, KPN, Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Nos, Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel), Orange Belgium, Orange Group, Porto Seguro Conecta, Qualcomm, Reliance Communications (RCOM), Sigfox, SK Telecom (SKT), Telia Norge, Telia Sweden, Tet (Lattelecom Group), Vodafone Ireland, ZTE